A Q&A With Walk-On LB Kelan Chairs

Mississippi State redshirt sophomore walk-on linebacker Kelan Chairs talks one-on-one with Gene's Page.

Kelan Chairs, how did you wind up playing for Mississippi State?
"Coming out of high school I had offers from a lot of small schools. But with the potential that I felt that I had I wanted to play for a bigger school. I had talked to (Mississippi State assistant) Coach (Greg) Knox when he came down and was recruiting some players on our team. I got in contact with him and he made a call for me. He got me up here for the spring and let me visit the school to see f I would like it. He had me come here as a preferred walk-on. And ever since then I have been striving to be great, doing what I do to try and be successful at the school."

How different is it to be a walk-on when you are out on the field?
"Being a walk-on you have to be mentally tough. There is a lot of adversity due to the obstacles that you have to deal with. But at the same time you have to earn the respect of the other players and the coaches. But first you have to have respect for yourself. You have to stay strong. You have to keep God first and pray to him. Things aren't always going to go the way that you want them to. You just have to go out there and keep working and grind every day. Things aren't going to be easy for a walk-on. You have to find your opportunity and make the best of it."

When do you feel you first earned the players respect?
"I'm not sure if there was any one time. Ever since day-one when they first recognized me because I knew Ryan Brown because we played against each other in high school. I knew Damien Williams. And Torrey Dale and I have known each other a while. Once I got here we had a conversation in the dorm and they told me that they were with me, they were my bros. Once I got out and worked hard players started recognizing me saying Kelan Chairs can play football."

What has been the proudest moment for you?
"My proudest moment is my parents supporting me throughout all the adversity that I have had to go through. They stay on my side and always support me through it all. I just thank them for that. I also feel like I could call on any of the players at any time. I know if I needed anything I could call on them and they would be there for me."

What are your goals?
"I want to continue working hard and continue to strive to be great. Special teams players play a big role on the team. Some people don't go to the League and play every snap on defense or offense but they can still make a living off of special teams."

You played on special teams this past season. Talk about that.
"After game five I started on returns. Arkansas was my first kickoff return. I played in the Southern Miss game but going out on kickoff returns in a big-time SEC game was great. "

What did that feel like?
"It felt great. I started in an SEC game. When I was in the middle of the field and looking around it felt great. I saw my parents and thought that I had to make them proud. It was great knowing that my team had the trust me in that I would go down and make the block. I felt really special."

When you walked onto the field in an actual game was it emotional for you?
"Yes sir. On my jog to the middle of the field it felt like the longest jog that I could have, the longest."

Now I guess you want to increase your playing time in a game.
"Yes sir, I want to increase my role on the team."

On the defensive side of the ball, what does your position coach and defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, tell you?
"He talks to me about technique. He tells me to be aggressive and be tough out there. You have to have your teammates' respect because you know they have to trust you when you are on the field. He tells me to keep going out there and work hard and everything will pay off."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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