State Safeties Adjusting to Life Without Leader Market

They already miss their teammate, unit leader, and friend. The schedule doesn’t stop in Kendrick Market’s absence, though. So, “Now everybody has a role,” Jamal Peters said. “Starter, ones or twos. Everybody is going to be a one, everybody is going to be a two.”

In Peters’ case, he will go into this weekend’s home game with Troy and for that matter the rest of the 2015 season as a regular in the safety rotation. Then again, even had senior starter Market not been lost to injury true freshman Peters was already on a faster track for increased playing time. One bad Bulldog break just accelerates the process in the Mississippi State secondary.

“It changes a lot,” Peters said. “Coach is saying I’m going to be playing more and I’ve got to learn the playbook. I’ve got to have attitude to get ready to play more.”

This attitude ought come easy for this kid. Handed a kickoff team opportunity for the very first play of this 2015 season, Peters made instant impact on that play. Since then he’s become a fixture and special teams star.

Plus, he got an early initiation into the game. “I got a huge hit, I don’t have the butterflies any more.” So in that role the game is already slowing down for this freshman. What about his primary position of safety, though?

Coordinator Manny Diaz and Coach Tony Hughes have given Peters as many live snaps as practical through five games. Chances to play at both Auburn and Texas A&M show both the faith in his raw abilities, and some pretty fast maturing under fire. Oh, and an honest attitude, too.

“It changed a lot, I ain’t really scared to go out there, I’m more confident than I’ve ever been. I feel really better going on the field and getting more reps.”

A moment last Saturday evening also demonstrated that Peters is already expected to step right in whether a starter is healthy or not. At one point he shifted so far out of a safety spot that for all the world it seemed Peters was playing cornerback. It wasn’t, he explained.

“I was playing like a nickel back, it was really more a ‘cheetah’ package. Coach told me I’m going to be playing like a little linebacker because I played it in high school.” For that matter Peters looks like he could easily go to a true linebacker position if necessary.

Instead he and classmate Mark McLaurin, another true freshman safety activated this year; and redshirt Brandon Bryant are the future of the safety spots in State’s defense. This year they have the luxury of learning behind older Dogs Kivon Coman and Deontay Evans. For that matter Market was already a player/coach in the safety meeting room.

Now, he’ll just be coaching up the kids full-time.

“He told me keep working hard and I’ll be an outstanding football player for Mississippi State,” Peters said. “Really just go out there and have confidence, don’t be down. A lot of people say I have a lack of experience but he says just keep pushing it and I’ll be alright.”

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