1-on-1 with Johnathan Calvin

Mississippi State junior defensive end Johnathan Calvin talks one-on-one with Gene's Page.

A lot of people probably don't know this but you have only played five years of football, three years of high school football and two years of junior college football. Before you became a football player you were a basketball player. What positions did you play in basketball?
"At Murrah (High School) I played power forward and center. But I also played AAU ball and played everything. I played with the Jackson Celtics."

When did you decide to start playing football?
"When I got older I realized that football was my ticket (to college). Basketball kind of helped me with football because it made my feet quicker. When I am out there at defensive end and do my shake move, I look at it as if I am doing a crossover (in basketball). In basketball I was a center, too, so I was a physical guy in basketball. I loved contact in basketball. I carried that to the football field. Basketball helped me a lot. So, I am really glad I did play basketball."

What was it like going from basketball to football?
"I started playing football in the 9th grade. What really shocked me was in the 9th grade all of the seniors told me that I wouldn't start. Then the season started and I was starting. It was my first year to play football and I was starting. It was great."

Were you comfortable playing football as a freshman?
"At first It was confusing. I was just learning blocks, things like that. To be honest, I am just now learning the game. At Co-Lin I just played. I am just now learning everything from Coach (David) Turner."

So you are a perfect example of that player people say his best football is ahead of him?
"Yes sir, I was just going on natural talent. I didn't have the experience. Now I know to read when the guard is pulling. I just know stuff like that now. That all came from working with Coach Turner."

Since it helped you prepare for football, do you still play basketball?
"I do still play it. I go to the gym and hoops sometime. I don't play against the MSU guys. I go to the Sanderson Center and play there. I love basketball. It is a fun game."

Before we started this interview you said a couple of schools were looking at you in basketball. You were more of a big man in high school but your height wasn't good enough to play a big man position in college. What were those schools recruiting you to play?
"I know I am 6-foot-3 but that is not very tall for basketball. I would have had to play guard. But I decided to choose football instead because I love football."

Since you are still relatively new to the game of football, what are things that you still need to learn about it?
"I am really still working on everything. I am trying my best to master everything. One of the things that I am working on is my hand placement. It is good but not the best."

What do you think you are really good at on the football field?
"I am very good at rushing the passer. I am very good with my hands, too. When I first got here I was a good pass rusher. But now I am better than I was. When I first got here I came off the line he would tell me to get to the spot first. At first I was frustrated because I didn't understand what he was talking about. Now I understand what he meant."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network.

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