Steve Robertson - Genespage.com

Mississippi State freshman safety Mark McLaurin talks about playing as a true freshman in the SEC

At the end of his high school career, Mark McLaurin celebrated a state championship on Scott Field at David Wade Stadium. Flash forward and McLaurin is now making plays on that same surface for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. One half of a talented frosh tandem of safeties, McLaurin is beginning to make his presence felt.

All incoming freshman hope that they have the chance to play early in their college careers. For McLaurin, the team's needs at safety and his own hard work combined to provide the opportunity for the Collins, Mississippi native to play as a true freshman.

"I had a meeting with Coach (Dan) Mullen right before the season started and he told me that I was going to play this year," McLaurin said. "It first it's kind of scary. I really didn't want to get redshirted, but I would have done that if he wanted me to. I know that can help you in the long run, but I was really hoping to play this year."

Once Mullen explained the situation, McLaurin felt he was ready to step up and provide support in the Bulldog secondary and on special teams.

"Coach Mullen said that he felt like I was ready and I felt like I was ready to," McLaurin said. "That gave me some confidence. He told me that he wanted to see me work hard on special teams and defense and go and make a play for him."

The bright lights of the big stage attracted McLaurin to Mississippi State, but no moment has been too big for him. The talented safety reports that seeing himself on film has only driven home the fact that this it the big time.

"This has been a great experience so far," McLaurin said. "I always wanted to see myself on film and on TV. It's a great feeling to see that and to hear from all of the people back home that see me on TV and stuff like that. It's just a great feeling."

McLaurin has factored more prominently in the rotation at safety since the Bulldogs lost senior Kendrick Market for the season. McLaurin reports that his snap count is up, but his job remains the same.

"I just have to go out there and make plays," McLaurin said. "When coach puts me in, I just have to go out there and do my job week in and week out. I just have to do my job and help this team keep winning games. That's the main thing is that we all have to our jobs, so the team can be successful."

Adjusting to life and times in the SEC is very difficult, but McLaurin's task has been made a bit easier by a friend who has helped carry the load. McLaurin and friend Jamal Peters have been able to lean on each other and learn to compete at a high level at a young age.

"Me and Jamal have a great relationship," McLaurin said. "In high school, we were friends, but it was all about going to get out team a win and then we could be friends again after the game. We used to take it out on each other on the field and then shake hands after.

"Now we have to come together and make each other better. We have worked hard to use our strengths together and help each other get stronger where we are weak.It helps that we get to work together, so if one of us doesn't understand something we can help each other figure everything out.

We are just coming together and trying to make Mississippi State a better team. I feel like we have a bright future together and with Brandon Bryant playing with us as the future."

Now the Bulldogs are ready to roll and host Louisiana Tech in a big game in the middle of the Misisssippi State home stand. McLaurin expects a big time atmosphere come Satuday.

"We know that they like to throw and they like to run it," McLaurin. "They have the big quarerback from Florida that transferred (Jeff Driskel). They have some great receivers and a running back who can play anywhere.

"We aren't overlooking them. We know how hard it is to get a win and we're preparing to play hard this Saturday. We know that they want to win just as bad as we do, so we have to work hard to be ready for the challenge this weekend."


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