And here Kendrick Market is, back on the practice field right on schedule. Well, almost. The ranking safety on Mississippi State’s roster is not regarded as 100% ready to roll. “I’m limited on most things, so whatever I can do I’m going to do.” Yet that is more than many figured Market would be able to do by the season, much less here on opening day of preseason.
For those who’ve forgotten, or more likely tried to forget the image, Market was last seen being carried off the field in Oxford. A ruptured Achilles meant no Orange Bowl appearance for the starting safety.
Not on the field, that is. “It was crazy. I was on the (mobility) scooter, jumping up and down because I knew the play (that) was coming.” It was also not fun to watch his proud defense shredded by a triple-option attack Market knew, just knew he could have helped slow down.
What he did not do was slow his personal pace of recovery. Oh, Market knew the odds weren’t good. He’d seen fellow safety Jay Hughes lose all but one period of the 2013 season with the same sort of injury.
“I was scared, I didn’t know how long it was going to be.” What Market did know, was rehab wouldn’t last as long as most claimed it should. “Because I rehabbed three times a day,” he said. Hughes offered both moral support and practical advice during his comrade’s recovery.
By the same token, during spring camp it was Market providing support and advice. He could have stayed on the sideline watching…but no. Market would walk out there behind Deontay Evans, Kivon Coman, Brandon Bryant, and tip them off about what the offense was going to try. Coach Tony Hughes welcomed the unofficial mentoring, which helped keep Market mentally involved while he couldn’t run plays himself.
Thing is, for all the spring friendship this is when jobs are earned. And Market does not intend to stay on the sideline watching and cheering. Evans, Coman, Bryant, and the newest safeties have to make room for the old Dog.
Though, “They know it’s competing,” Market said. “I mean, they get on me when I mess up and I get on them. So it really ain’t a job.”
Speaking of new pups…Market may be the one youngsters look up to for leadership. But he has to literally look up at Jamal Peters and Mark McLaurin. In fact when the true frosh arrived in June “My first thought was they were going to linebacker! But over the summer when I saw their footwork and how they run I said nah, they’re going to stay back here.”
Preseason also gives Market his first real chance to run the fresh schemes installed during spring by returned coordinator Manny Diaz. Do we really need ask how Market feels about the new direction on defense? But we do anyway.
“Diaz is going to bring a lot of blitzing, a lot of pressure. He’s going to be very exciting.”
Market is already excited just to be back in some degree of practice action. He did admit to Monday soreness. And he will let his head over-rule the heart when it comes to pacing himself these early days, maybe even weeks.
Because, it’s his senior season ahead. Market intends to go the distance this time by being practical in practice.
“And I ain’t just going to kill myself. If I can’t do it I’m not going to do it.”