Steve Robertson -

Mississippi defensive end Johnathan Calvin talks about stepping up and stepping in for Ryan Brown

Johnathan Calvin made the move from Co-Lin Community College to Mississippi State in hopes of being a starting defensive end. Calvin spent most of the season as a reserve defensive end supporting A.J. Jefferson. With senior starter Ryan Brown lost to injury for the Belk Bowl, Calvin is making the move to the other side of the defensive formation as well as taking one more step up the depth chart to starter.

"I feel great about it," Calvin said of his starting opportunity. "I think it's time for me to step to play and take on more responsibility."

It took the Jackson, Mississippi native a few games to adjust to the speed of the game in the Southeastern Conference. By mid-season, Calvin was a regular in Coach David Turner's rotation. The Murrah High School alum recorded a season high six tackles on the road at Texas A&M and then followed up that showing by recording four tackles in back to back weeks against Troy and Louisiana Tech. 

"I think that my season went okay, but I feel like I can do a lot better in everything I do," Calvin explained. "I am ready to do more to help the team and go out and try to get this win in the bowl game."

The Bulldogs will certainly be counting on Calvin when they travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on NC State in hopes of securing a win in the final game of the season. Sadly, senior Ryan Brown will be cheering from the sidelines.

"Ryan told me that it turned out that he had been playing the whole season with a cracked bone in his foot," Calvin said. "He told me that it was time for me to step up. I went to practice with that mindset."

Brown has offered a helping hand to his replacement. Calvin reports that his adjustment to the starting role has been a smooth transition thanks in large part to Brown's words of wisdom.

"Ryan is still in the meeting room with us," Calvin shared. "He is watching us and he is always asking about how practice goes. He is still with us and that's very important. He is giving me tips and pointers. 

"I was used to playing on the right side, so he's helped me get used to playing on the left side."

Coach Dan Mullen harps on how little things become a big deal over the course of a college football game and season. Calvin reports that Brown has helped him focus on the nuances of playing the weak side of the Bulldog defensive front.

"When I first got over there, I was false stepping with my left foot," Calvin said. "Ryan was telling me to get my feet back. He has been helping me with things like that. He's really helped me a lot."

In addition to lining up in a new spot, Calvin has had to get used to playing with different personnel. Instead of lining up to the right of Nick James, Calvin will put his hand in the ground to the left of Chris Jones.

The high number of reps that bowl practices offer have allowed Calvin some time to build chemistry with those around him.

"I have adjusted a whole lot," Calvin said. "It's like I knew everything from the right side, but I feel like I have adjusted pretty fast to the left side. Those guys over there have helped me. I didn't know a lot about the left side, but they have all helped me adjust."

New faces in new places are only part of the challenge to the Buldog post season. The Wolfpack of NC State will be playing a game in their home state, which brings an even greater challenge to the Bulldogs.

"They like to run the ball and they try to play with your eyes," Calvin explained. "They have a lot of movement. They run a lot of the same plays out of different formations or with different movements. We just have to really prepare and watch film."

Calvin will be announced as a Mississippi State starter for the first time on December 30th. The talented defensive end hopes that a strong showing against the Wolfpack of NC State will give him the momentum needed to hold on to that starting spot next spring. 

"Coach Turner has been telling me that it's my time to step up now," Calvin said. "He told me that he wants me to work hard, make plays and just step up and be a guy out there."

Calvin and the rest of the Bulldog will leave for Charlotte Christmas night to begin their on site preparations for the Belk Bowl on December 30th. Tickets for that contest remain available through the Mississippi State ticket office.

Gene's Page Top Stories