Gene Swindoll

Mississippi State redshirt freshman Nick Fitzgerald talks one-on-one with Gene's Page about playing his first college game against Southern

Mississippi State redshirt freshman Nick Fitzgerald talks one-on-one with Gene's Page about playing his first college game against Southern Miss.

Did the coaches tell you beforehand that you would likely play against Southern Miss?
"There was always the opportunity that I would play if we ended up getting up big against Southern Miss. It just kind of didn't end up working out that way because they were a lot better team than they were last year. Give credit to them, they played really well. Then, towards the end of the game was when they were comfortable enough to put me into the game."

What were you doing on the sidelines during the game?
"Between series I was warming up Dak, kind of keeping his arm loose. I had my headset on listening to the coaches talking about different things that were different than what we gameplanned on."

Did doing all of that prevent you from having butterflies during the game?
"Throughout the week, everyday I had butterflies just thinking about it. I would just get my iPad and read over stuff, trying to get that out of my mind. If I felt nervous, I prepared even more. Finally on gameday on the bus ride over I may have been a little nervous. Once I got on the field and started stretching I wasn't so much nervous as excited because I wanted to play."

What happened when you found out that you were about to go into the game?
"During the series we were kind of backed up, so they didn't want to put me in. But if they got the first down they were going to put me in."

Did you know that or did you find out after the fact?
"No, they were talking about it on the headset. So, I was getting prepared to go out there and make a couple of run plays and run the clock out. On the first play we got a first down. Then I was looking for my helmet on the sidelines. I couldn't find it and had no idea where it was. I was running around trying to find my helmet. They told me to get in and I had no idea where my helmet was. Then, the next play was a penalty and it backed us up 10 yards. So, it was first or second and twenty. They grabbed me and told me to go in and play and do my thing. I got out on the field and got a little cheer from my mom."

What did you do once you got in?
"He gave me the play on the sideline. I jogged out and yelled out the play to let them know what it was and let them get lined up. I clapped and caught the snap."

How did you feel during the first play?
"I was excited. I think I was ready. The nervousness was gone. I think I was just ready to play."

You had a really good run. How did it feel to make such a good run?
"It felt great. I hadn't played in a year and eight months. In your first play you have a run play where you got the read that you wanted. I pulled the ball, got some great blocking and ended up going down the sidelines."

Were your teammates able to congratulate you after the play?
"I jogged under the ball getting ready for the next play, maybe getting a little fist bump here or there."

What did your position coach, Brian Johnson, say to you after the game about your performance?
"He walked up to me in the locker room and told me great job, good reads, I looked composed out there. It made me feel good about myself."

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