This, he said, is a particular source of pride as Calhoun’s college career comes to its end.
“Just seeing where this program has come since I’ve been here. You know, coming from the Shira to over here. Coming from not winning a lot of games to being one of the top teams in the nation.
“You know, all the hard work we put in just so this program could get the national spotlight it deserves. I think about all those times, all the friendships I’ve made. All those things come to mind when I think about my time here at Mississippi State.”
A good time. Historic, in fact. Cornerback Calhoun is part of what, with a win this weekend, would match the most victories ever by a four-year Bulldog class. This group of 14, which includes redshirts and bonus-year players, have helped Mississippi State score 33 wins in 2012-15. That trails only the 1939-42 period of 34 wins…and since that fell in the era when freshmen didn’t play varsity ball this exiting class can be entirely unique.
They certainly have set the standard for success at Scott Field with 22 victories. Now Calhoun’s class takes to the home field one last time, the ‘graduation’ ceremony all seniors expect…until it actually arrives.
“It seems surreal,” Calhoun said. “I really can’t believe it’s over. It’s coming to an end. I just know it’s going to be a really emotional night. I really just hate it’s coming to an end, but you know all good things to an end. I just pray that I could leave on a good note.”
A Saturday evening celebration would answer all Mississippi State prayers. And, bring back the Golden Egg after a year’s exile. Morton native Calhoun has known about State-Ole Miss forever of course. But only participating provides the purest perspective…and as Calhoun said, former Dogs aren’t shy reminding current generations what is at stake.
“They always hit us up and how big the game is. And it’s important to everybody in the state of Mississippi. It’s just a truly important game for everybody for bragging rights and to get the trophy back.”
For that matter Calhoun has seen the Egg Bowl blow-up beyond a merely Mississippi matter. “It’s becoming a significant game.” For the first time ever, this rivalry features ranked opponents in consecutive years. Last year both squads went on to participate in the New Years Six bowl system; this time around speculation is the victor will head to New Orleans for the holidays if other SEC scenarios play out so.
Calhoun watched the 2011 Bulldog win as a redshirt. It was a year later “When we went up there, that’s when I got a true taste of how big the game was. Just seeing how much they hate us and knowing how much we hate them, too! It dawned on me this game gets bigger and bigger every year.”
The thing is, after kickoff emotions can get in the way. Or worse. That’s a message Calhoun is giving to pups just getting exposed to the rivalry.
“I would tell them at the end of the day its still football. The team that’s going to win is the team that executes the best. We tell them how important the game is, but then against we still have to tell them to do our assignment.
“Because at the end of the day if you don’t execute you’re going to go out there and get beat.”
Which for a Senior Night is nigh-unthinkable. Bulldog teams have won seven of the last Senior games, the lone hiccup in 2010 and that one in double-overtime.
A couple of upperclassmen, who happen to be Calhoun’s comrades in the secondary, will get their recognition Saturday…but can’t play. Probably cannot even jog out from the locker room after mid-season injuries.
But CB Will Redmond and S Kendrick Market remain on the job as best they can. “It’s unfortunate they got hurt, it’s probably one of the worst things that could happen,” Calhoun said.
“But those guys are still positive about everything, still willing to help the younger guys, still willing to motivate. They talk to us before every game, before every practice.”
Something Market and Redmond shouldn’t have to tell the pups is just how fragile a football career can be. Young players should be able to see that easily if not comfortably. For his part, Calhoun—the surviving senior in the secondary—said those bad breaks have not made him hesitant.
Just the opposite. “I’d say I’ve stretched to go 100% all the time,” Calhoun said.
“Because you never know when it’s your time. Any play, any second this game can be taken away from us. So I stress to the younger guys not to take any play or any time with each other for granted, because you never know.”
Speaking of never know, there were moments last Saturday the Bulldogs thought they had another SEC wins clinched. Then, Arkansas seemed certain of an epic comeback. Upon which things got really entertaining in a punch-trading fourth quarter not decided until Mississippi State linebacker Beniquez Brown blocked a field goal.
Never mind giving up 50 points and what seemed like miles of yardage. The Bulldog defense came out of the victory confident in both themselves and their offensive peers for crunch time. And there’s no bigger crunch time than an Egg Bowl.
“Any time you get a win it gives you momentum going into the next week,” Calhoun said. “Just the way we won shows we never gave up. And we know if we ever get down we can still pull it out or whatever. The way the game ended getting a win definitely gave us momentum going into this week.”
The biggest of weeks by Bulldog standards any year; and bigger than that for seniors. And if one of those gets a little louder welcome onto Scott Field, well, Calhoun says his fellow co-captain Dak Prescott has earned special attention. “Everybody knows that! I won’t be surprised if he has a special video or something like that!
“But it won’t be any jealousy, he’s definitely been a leader ever since I’ve known him. He really just took this program under his wing, we followed him. So he deserves everything he’s going to get Senior Night. I hope he gets a standing ovation, cowbells ringing for five minutes. I’ll be just as happy for him just like it was me.”
Well, happy that the great day has arrived. True happiness hangs on the final score.
“My last game at Davis Wade,” Calhoun said. “Just being able to go out a winner, being able to celebrate with our fans on the field with the trophy.”