Rufus Warren signed on with the Bulldogs out of Gentry High School in Indianola, Mississippi to play tight end. Due to injuries and a team need, Warren bulked up and made the move to offensive tackle as a junior.
Warren won the starting job at left tackle this past spring and then shared time with redshirt freshman Elgton Jenkins during the 2015 season.
While the season holds some fond memories for Warren, the warm embrace from Mississippi State fans as he dealt with the disappointment of not being able to play in his final home game is something he will always cherish.
"That meant everything to me," Warren said of the ovation. "I've spent five years here and I have put in all of the work. It just feels wonderful to know that people notice that and that they appreciate it. Those 65,000 people at the Egg Bowl saw how much I was hurting and everybody knows how much this program means to me.
"It was a very emotional moment for me."
Warren was scratched from the Bulldog starting line-up after undergoing a procedure for a kidney stone ailment. Now that he has had some time to heal, Warren is enjoying his final practices as a Bulldog.
"It feels good to be back," Warren said. "I have had a couple of weeks now to rest and recover, so I feel fresh. I feel good. I am ready to go."
Mississippi State will take on NC State in the Belk Bowl on the afternoon of December 30th. Warren reports that he and his teammates are grateful to have one more game to play together and that they are hungry for a win.
"We worked all season to be able to play in the post season," Warren said. "I feel sorry for whoever we have to go up against. I have to get that last game back and we're all still angry about the Egg Bowl. We are ready to get back onto the field one more time."
The visit to Charlotte will be the second time Warren has visited North Carolina. While his first visit was of a recreational nature, it did not involve a football helmet.
"I have been to North Carolina once and that was to hike the Appalachian Trail," Warren said. "We didn't see any of the cities of North Carolina when we went. We were just on the trail the whole time. I haven't been back since then, but I am excited to go this time."
With his college football career down to a matter of days, Warren has already begun to think about a life without football as part of his daily routine.
"Right now, my main focus is to get my degree," Warren explained. "I still have to do an internship in the spring. I want to get my job and then just start working. I have already started applying for a few jobs. I want to be prepared, so that when all of this is over, I can go right into the work force."
Warren reports that his decision to come to Mississippi State remains one of the best of his life. The lessons learned on and off the field appear to have helped the Mississippi native mature.
"These past five years have taught me how to be a man in every situation," Warren said. "I was soft when I came here. I was basically one of those people that had everything handed to them as a young person.
"When I came here and got around these coaches, it made a difference in my life. They taught me how to take responsibility for myself and to become a man. I will remember all of that the rest of my life."