Thomas Prepared for First Bulldog Action

Mississippi State won a hard fought recruiting battle two years ago, when they were able to land McCalla, Alabama star Cory Thomas. Thomas redshirted last fall in an attempt to get bigger and stronger and prepare for the rigors of interior line play in the Southeastern Conference. Now a year wiser and stronger, Thomas is ready to make his contribution to Mississippi State football.

Cory Thomas profile

"I feel good," Thomas grinned. "I am just working hard to learn Coach (Manny) Diaz' defense. I am just getting the hang of things. It's really pretty simple. It's like Coach (David) Turner is always telling us. We have to just pay attention and listen to what the linebackers are telling us. Everything just falls into place if we do that."

For Thomas, the Diaz scheme is the second defense he has had to learn in his two years on campus. While there are some philosophical differences, Thomas reports the Diaz install is going well.

"It's really not that bad," Thomas said. "With all of the calls and the directions, we just have to listen and pay attention. We just have to play with our heads. It's less thinking and more reacting in this defense. I like it."

Thomas earned the admiration of Bulldog fans when he made a late flip from Tennessee to Mississippi State just before signing day 2014. While the Bulldog faithful have high hopes for the personable Thomas, the talented defensive lineman reports that he feels no added pressure from those expectations.

"I don't feel any pressure at all," Thomas said. "I am just ready to get out there and show my team and the fans just what I can do. I am just ready to play football."

The transition from high schooler to expected SEC contributor has been aided by the helpful advice of defensive line mate Chris Jones.

"Chris is like my big brother," Thomas said. "When I first came in, they told me he was going to sort of be my big brother. Whenever I need something, I can call him. He is always there to help me get what I need. He is always there to help me with plays and around the facility. He comes and gets me on Saturday mornings sometimes to work out and get in the playbook."

Jones' job as a mentor looks to have helped Thomas in his attempts to impress Bulldog D block boss, David Turner.

"Coach Turner has taught me a lot," Thomas said. "He's been hard on me since I got here. It's all real this year and he's been turning it up on me. He has been staying on me about staying low coming off the ball and using my hands more.

"I have been working hard on my steps too. All of that is important. You have to come at the ball the right way. Believe me, all of that really matters. You have to get your steps right to be sure you're going the right way and getting in those gaps.

"It's to learn those sort of things from Ryan Brown and Nelson Adams, because they have been here. They know. You can ask them about anything and they will help you get it right." Thomas is hopeful that the Bulldogs can do some historic things this fall.

"My goal is for us to win the SEC West," Thomas said. "That is what we are all out here for."

With Preston Smith, Kaleb Eulls and P.J. Jones all moving on the Bulldog roster, Thomas is expected to play a large part in the defensive line rotation. Coach David Turner historically has played double digit defensive lineman each and every game. Thomas is now working to ensure that he gets more than his share of snaps.

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