Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Kicking Competition Continues

Mississippi State entered fall camp looking for a starter in all three kicking disciplines. Sophomore Logan Cooke gained some experience last fall kicking off, place kicking and punting. As the days to the season opener at Southern Miss hit single digits, Cooke is still competing for a starting role.

Two-a-day practices are over, school is in session and the Bulldogs are counting down the days until their schedules take on a more routine feel.

"It's mainly just a mental aspect," Cooke said of the transition. "You go from working your butt off in practice to trying to get the mental aspect down and getting ready for each game. It is not as strenuous as it is just paying attention and learning the plays we are supposed to learn for the game."

Last fall, Cooke thought he would likely redshirt. An injury to Devon Bell forced Cooke into action against Auburn. This off season, Cooke enters the season expecting to play.

"This year there is no telling who is going to do what," Cooke said. "Mentally, I have to prepare myself to do anything and be ready when my name is called. This year, I am a lot more calm than I was last year. I kind of understand what is going to happen to a point."

Bell and Logan Cooke are both working their way through the fall camp paces as the Bulldogs prepare for the 2015 campaign. The competition appears to have been rather intense, but the outcome is still to be determined.

"I don't think we're going to know anything for sure until about two minutes before kickoff," Cooke said. "Last year, in the moment knowing right before kickoff was really good.

"Everybody is neck and neck.  The field goal is tied between Westin Graves, Devon (Bell) and even Bryce Brown. It's so close, that it might a be a deal where they find a kicker through the first couple of games. 

"Everybody's got a shot at kickoff. It's the same deal between me and Devon. We're pretty even right now. We're both having good days every time we kick and punting is the same way. 

"I really think we're in a good situation where you have these battles between the first, second and third guys. You know that if one guy goes down that your second guy is going to step up and do the job."

With Cooke burning a redshirt year a season ago, one might considering putting the redshirt designation back on the talented sophomore to save a year for down the road. To date, any discussions about that topic have not included Cooke.

"It hasn't come up yet," Cooke said. "Whatever happens, happens and we're just going to go with it. Another year is another year, but a year on the sidelines isn't going to be too much fun.

With a year of college experience under his belt, Cooke believes he is much better equipped to handle the kicking chores than he was as a true freshman making his college debut in a top five match-up against Auburn.

"Consistency is a big key," Cooke said. "Last year, I was just trying get in there and do my job. Now I can get in there and do my job at a higher level. As a freshman, if I got in there and did my job and hit a 42, 43 yard punt, then that was a good deal. Now I want to be the best that I can be rather than just do my job."

In his first college game, Cooke had the chance to throw a pass, a punter's dream. Cooke's attempt fell into enemy hands. Needless to say, the Columbia Academy alum would love a shot at redemption.

"I get ragged about that a lot, but there were a lot of factors that went in to that," Cooke said with a laugh. "I played some quarterback and a lot of wide receiver in high school, so I miss the football side of it. Any chance I get to do that, I enjoy it.

Cooke grew up a Bulldog fan, so having the chance to wear the Maroon and White is a dream come true for the personable sophomore. With a year of SEC play now in the books, Cooke is eager to get back out there and be a part of more Bulldog victories.

"I love it," Cooke said of being a Bulldog player. "Going through the recruiting process and looking at schools, I was always looking around, because I didn't know what options would be there. My prayer throughout the whole deal was that God would open the doors that needed to open and close the ones that needed to be closed. Lo and behold, he closed about every single one except State. It worked out and I am perfectly happy here."

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