So much for us observers figuring that careful coaching calculations go into every assignment and coverage matchup. Actually it’s more fun to think of Mississippi State’s defensive backs calling dibs on the nearest corner and grinning at the cohort who has to keep jogging to the other side!
“Really, just whatever a guy calls he gets that side first,” Jiles smiles.
OK. This is exaggerated just a little. There really are specific assignments by corners Coach Terrell Buckley and coordinator Peter Sirmon often enough in this spring. They have a lot, a lotttt of evaluating still to do amongst these seven scholarship and additional walk-on cornerbacks. You know, looking for subtle strengths or potential weaknesses in how one Dog handles a side, a scheme, a matchup, whatever.
And if pressed, Jiles admits he does have a preferred corner. “I like to get the left side most of the time, that’s my favorite side.” Alright, and why exactly? “I don’t know! It just feels good.”
Left or right, or right or left, Jiles feels good about this spring situation. He’s done his time for four years here already, battled back from repeated injuries—including an August 2014 knee surgery that cost him a whole season—and served as a capable backup to the likes of Taveze Calhoun and Will Redmond.
Now for the last college campaign, there’s a starting spot to be grabbed. Maybe two of them in fact, given the interesting competition Jiles and Tolando Cleveland face from Jamoral Graham, juco Lashard Durr, redshirts Chris Stamps and Maurice Smitherman, and more.
Jiles doesn’t gripe though about being due a job after all his labors. The competition is good for him and everyone. Plus, he’s breaking in a new position coach in Buckley. “It’s going good,” he says.
“I like him. He’s a funny guy, a great personality. He was a great cornerback so I want to take some of what he’s teaching us because he was a great cornerback back in the day.”
But so was Buckley’s predecessor. Jiles feels as if he’s won some sort of college coaching lottery, because he had three years with Deshea Townsend, an All-Pro cornerback just like Buckley. Those two had 27 combined seasons in the National Football League. Jiles likes that, a lot.
“Yeah, I feel lucky. Because not only do I get to be coached by these guys, but after football I can probably call them up sometimes and work out with them some kind of way, those things.” Oh, and as for differences? “Coach Townsend was energetic and louder. Coach Buckley is more smooth. Both of them were great and I’m learning from both of those guys.”
It says much about Jiles’ approach to the last State spring he still sees the need to learn. The emphasis this camp has been footwork so far, which Jiles said should improve individual form for 2016. Anything else on the to-do list?
“Oh, everything really. It’s nothing you get too perfect at. It’s no specific things.” Working on everything, really, is key to spring competition. Bulldog cornerbacks might not win a job in April…
…but they can certainly put themselves an at August disadvantage with a slow spring. That hasn’t been the case this camp per Jiles. “Every guy is ready to compete. Everybody is just improving day-by-day,” he said.
“We’re not missing a beat. We’ve been working so long, so hard, I feel like we haven’t taken many days off. It’s not bad learning new plays with new faces and new coaches.”