Coach Jackie Sherrill:
"The only concern you have is the softness of the fields. But that's something that you have to deal with. We will have our artificial field as soon as they finish it."
Good things that he saw.
"There are a lot of good young defensive linemen and some guys in the secondary that look like they are going to help us. Offensively, we have to find one or two players. We have to find the tight end and we also have to get settled on a front five (offensive line) and get the other guys ready as backups. Everybody else is pretty well set."
What did you think about the inside drill?
"I was impressed with the defensive linemen."
Impressions of Marvin Byrdsong. "There is no question that (Marvin Byrdsong) is a big-time player. The good players will show up in any kind of weather. He is a player."
Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper.
Talk about why you moved Kevin Dockery from corner to safety.
"We moved him during the spring because we thought we needed more athletic ability at safety. He has picked up on it really well. He has to become a better tackler during two-a-days. If he does that, then he is going to be a real good safety."
Talk about the ripple effect of not having Kamau Jackson, including having to move Jason Clark from linebacker to defensive end.
"We moved Jason back to defensive end, which probably fits him a little better. Really, the move that makes us stronger is moving Tommy Kelly inside. Tommy weighs 300 pounds and he runs a 4.7. He is a better fit at defensive tackle. If he continues to come on like he is coming off the ball right now, we are going to have something special with he and Ronald Fields. Clarence McDougal is now in the starting role at linebacker. He played hard enough in the spring to be a starter. Right now, I am pleased with his play."
Talk about the guys on the second unit.
"We are looking for two first-team units. We are looking for two units that can play on the field. I feel comfortable that of the 22 players we need, we are probably at about 15. We have to work the kinks out of the secondary, but those guys will keep coming around. We may have a couple of surprises. I think some guys think they have it, but we have a couple of freshmen defensive linemen that are pretty doggone good. We also have some really young cornerbacks that are playing really well."
Are you willing to name names as far as the defensive linemen are concerned?
"Andrew Powell, Corey Clark, Devrick Hampton. Those three guys are monsters inside. I am pleased right now watching them in drills. It's early, but you talk about coming off the ball and being in a football position of attacking, they are big boys. Corey Clark is 300, Andrew Powell is 314 and Devrick Hampton is 292. Those are three guys that I wanted to see hit. And boy did they hit today. If they are good enough to play, we are going to play them."
What do you like about Andrew Powell? He is kind of a surprise to me.
"We thought Andrew was going to be out of shape but he is pretty good. We thought he was going to be too out of shape to play, but he, right now, runs good and has been in the Florida sun working out. It is still early, but he definitely has a chance to play."
Defensive line coach John Blake.
Are you happy with the move of Jason Clark to defensive end and Tommy Kelly to defensive tackle?
"I feel really good about those. Tommy gives us that big body inside to come off the ball and be thick in there. The thing that is so important right now is we to get the best guys on the field and in the best position to play."
So you feel defensive tackle is the best position for Tommy?
"No question, but he will play end for us. I think we can play him in the end situations, especially with the way the young tackles are coming on. I am very impressed with (freshmen) Andrew Powell, Corey Clark and Devrick Hampton."
What's so good about the young defensive tackles?
"They are mentally tough guys. The heat doesn't bother them. The way I push them and the way I get on them doesn't bother them. They are very tough kids, mentally and physically. That is what is so impressive about them. They have a long way to go but they have a lot of potential."
What is so good about Andrew Powell?
"His power is very impressive."
He wasn't that heavily recruited.
"People have to know how to look for talent. Sometimes the big names aren't always the best players. You look at a kid who is 6-1 to 6-2 and about 275 to 280. Then he gets up to 290 and plays both ways. A guy like that has to have something about him to go both ways in Florida. It is hot there and I never saw him take a play off."
Are you not concerned about having 260 and 235 pound defensive ends starting in the SEC?
"Not with the way they get off the ball."
What if the other teams run right at them?
"You are talking about a 265-pounder (Willie Evans) who bench pressed 450 and 500 and has great feet and leverage. The good thing about it is we have Tommy Kelly who can move out to end. We also have (freshman) Deljuan Robinson who is coming on. That's 310 pounds and 6-5."
Freshman cornerback Quinton Culberson.
You have really been impressive the first three days of practice. Your aggressiveness really sets you apart. Is that what made you a Parade All-American in high school?
"Yeah, my aggressiveness and my skill. My aggressiveness just takes over sometimes. Sometimes I do good, sometimes I don't, but about 99% I'm doing good. I rarely have bad days."
Although you are a very aggressive player, you seem to be able to control it. But you really do appear to take it personal on the field.
"I have to take it personal. It is business on the field, but we are friends in the locker room."
Talk about your first three days of practice.
"I did great the first three days. I got beat on a route today, but I'll make up for it tomorrow. I'm getting better each day and learning the plays slowly but surely."
What caused you to get beat today, the receiver was faster than you or you used poor technique?
"I'm not going to make excuses, but it was kind of wet today. I'll make up for it tomorrow."
There's a lot of freshmen that are being counted on to play big roles this year.
"Yeah, a lot of freshmen are probably going to play."
You have been here just three practices and you are already second-team cornerback. I guess you like that.
"Yeah, I like that right now, but I'm going to move up to first-team sooner or later."
How much do you weigh?
"I'm 6-0 tall and weigh 210."
That's a pretty big cornerback.
"Yeah." [This was said with a smile.-Gene]
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.