Gene Swindoll

Clayborn Ready to Snap

Heading into his junior season, Mississippi State offensive lineman Jamaal Clayborn is an old dog. After spending two years as a Bulldog regular at offensive guard, Clayborn is ready to show that he has learned some new tricks as the starting center for Coach John Hevesy's personnel group.

Jamaal Clayborn played as a true freshmen two season ago. With a pair of college seasons under his belt, the Jackson, Mississippi product is ready to take on a starting role.

"It's going well," Clayborn said of the transition. "Every day is a work in progress. I am just trying to get out there and get better every day.  I have a great coaching staff. Coach Hevesy always puts me in the right position. Dak (Prescott) is a great communicator and I have my fellow O lineman to help me out on different calls. It's a group effort."

While the fall practice sessions have been a collective experience, the individual work Clayborn put in with battery mate Dak Prescott were an important part of the off season commitment to excellence.

"We worked on it every single day," Clayborn said. "Every day we had practice, work out groups and anything afterwards. We were on the field with the receiving corps. My O line came out there. We worked together, worked on communication."

Earlier this year, Clayborn took the snaps before a Davis Wade Stadium crowd as the Bulldogs went through the annual spring game. That experience proved to be a good one for Clayborn, but the rising junior was prepared for that moment.

"In practice, we have the music blaring to simulate the crowd," Clayborn shared. "It wasn't much of a difference playing in front of a crowd. I feel more confident in what I am doing. I am just trying to get better every day."

The spring practice sessions were a continuation of the efforts Clayborn put in during the team's bowl practices at the end of the 2014 season. Entering his first season as the Bulldogs' trigger man, Clayborn believes he has the foundation needed to be successful.

"The biggest thing is communication," Clayborn said. "Getting everybody on the same path and getting everybody lined up to be more successful. You could get a sack or a tackle for loss. Anything could go wrong if your communication is not to a 'T'."

While Clayborn has not bene in recent contact with departed senior snapper Dillon Day, the pair had the chance to share some time last season once the decision was made to anoint Clayborn as Day's replacement.

"He told me that every day is a work in progress," Clayborn said. "There are still things that I have to get better on and that I just need to go out there and give my best every day."

In just over a week, Clayborn will be making his first snaps under the lights as the Bulldogs travel to Southern Miss. The talented junior is eager to tee it up and get after it.

"I feel confident," Clayborn said of his pre-game mindset. "Coach Hevesy put us in a great system to be prepared to do the task at hand. We are a hard working program, so we just work on our daily routine every day."

Clayborn and the Bulldogs took part in a pair of game type scrimmages to better prepare them for Saturday's action. The veteran interior offensive lineman reports that his group did their jobs as did the rest of the team.

"I think we did a lot of things well," Clayborn said of the offensive line. "We have a great defense, probably the best in the SEC. We have great defensive lineman, Chris Jones, Ryan Brown and A.J. Jefferson are great players. They are going to make plays also, so it's a back and forth battle. It's SEC football. It's going to be pros and cons.

"I think we did everything right. We ran the ball well. We passed the ball well. Our defense made stops. It was good on both ends."

The Bulldogs will get the weekend off and then game week will be here. As the final fall camp practices have concluded, Clayborn is ready to get into the game week routine.

"I am just focused on getting back into practice and watching film," Clayborn said. "I just want to take it a day at a time."

The Bulldogs will resume practices on Monday to finalize their game plan for the season opener at Southern Miss. FoxSports1 will carry the broadcast with a kickoff scheduled for just after 9 PM central time. 

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