i saw you at a combine in high school. You had good size but not quite SEC size. Now you look like an SEC lineman after a redshirt season. Talk about your physical transformation during your redshirt year.
"When I first got to college I was just a 300-pound guy who had 25% body fat. After I got here, by the end of the summer it was all gone. Now I am down to 18% body fat. (Mississippi State strength and conditioning) Coach (Rick) Court is doing a wonderful job with me in the weight room, transitioning my body."
What is your weight now?
"I am 300, 305. I have slimmed down and added muscle. I basically burned a lot of fat off and turned it into muscle."
Physically, you are SEC-ready. Are you mentally SEC-ready?
"I am still learning and have room for improvement. I am just trying to get better day by day and learn as much as I can from the older guys."
Does defensive line coach David Turner compliment you on things that you do well?
"Yes, I would say it is my hands."
Were your hands a weakness when you first got here?
"It was actually a strength but I got better with them. When I got here in the summer, people like Kaleb Eulls, Chris Jones and P.J. Jones taught me things that I didn't know. Once I got it all together and got into fall camp and got with Coach Turner he said he liked my hands, liked my hand placement and different things like that."
Are the use of your hands more important in the SEC than they were in high school?
"Yes, I would say they are. In high school you can basically run through people. In the SEC you have to use your hands to help you get off blocks."
[As I was interviewing Cory Thomas, Chris Jones came by. I asked him what he likes about Cory. Below is his answer.-Gene]
Chris, what do you like about Cory Thomas?
Chris Jones - "I like his explosiveness. He is big, explosive, very powerful. I don't think he knows his own strength. He has stupid strength. He is quick off the ball. He just needs to work on his technique."
Are his hands something that he has been working hard to improve?
Chris Jones - "Yeah, Coach Turner has spent a lot of time with him trying to get his hand placement down pat."
[Now back to Cory Thomas.-Gene]
You just heard what Chris Jones said about you. What does it mean to you hearing it from someone as good as him?
"It means a lot coming from someone like Chris Jones. He has talked to me a lot since I have been here. I watched him on the field while I was redshirting, trying to learn everything that I could from him."
What are you feeling, knowing that you are about to play an actual college football game in a few weeks?
"I am ready to get out there and show the fans and the coaches what I can do."
Another redshirt freshman defensive lineman is Braxton Hoyett. You two came in together. What do you like about him?
"I like his pop off the ball. That is something that Coach Turner likes about him, too. And once he gets going he is really hard to contain."
Did you and Braxton already know each other before you got to Mississippi State?
"We knew each other in high school. We did camps together during the (recruiting) process. We texted each other. He was trying to persuade me to come to Mississippi State. He texted me the night before signing day. He was, basically, on me. When we got here we were roommates, so that got us closer. But before we got here we were already kind of connected."
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 email@example.com.