(Mark McLaurin) Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State sophomore safety Mark McLaurin embracing new coaches.

Mississippi State sophomore safety Mark McLaurin is working hard to play fast in the new Bulldog defensive scheme with a brand new set of defensive coaches. The Collins, Mississippi native earned some serious playing time as a true freshman closing out the 2015 season with a season high in tackles in the Bulldog win over NC State in the Belk Bowl. With a new season and a new chance to prove himself, McLaurin is battling for a starting position in the Bulldog secondary.

While McLaurin missed the Saturday showdown in Davis Wade Stadium this past weekend due to a funeral, the talented sophomore was eager to review the game film and see how his teammates performed in a dress rehearsal of sorts for the annual Maroon and White game.

"I wasn't here to see it, but looking at the film I thought they did good," McLaurin said of the defensive unit. "They really showed me a lot. I hate that I had to miss it, but I feel like they had a great scrimmage and that they really did good."

Position mate Brandon Bryant was the hero for the defense nabbing three interceptions and returning one 97 yards for a score. McLaurin was excited to see that level of play from his fellow sophomore. 

The returning safeties are getting adjusted to new position coach Maurice Linguist. Recruited and coached by departed safeties coach Tony Hughes, McLaurin, has embraced the new methods presented by Linguist.

"I like everything about him," McLaurin said of Linquist. "He knows where we're coming from, where we stay and what we need to do. He is just a great person and a great coach. I think he's everything we need in a coach here at Mississippi State."

The Bulldog safeties are expected to be one of the strengths of the team on either side of the ball. Despite seeing Jamal Peters spend some time over on offense, the last men in the Bulldog defense have stood tall this spring.

"Coach is telling us that he wants to have some play makers out on the field," McLaurin shared. "We are going to do everything coach asks us to do and we're going to do that to very best of our abilities. We are all out here working hard and doing our best to get ready for the season."

While Peters has spent some time wearing the Maroon jersey of the offense, McLaurin has patrolled the Bulldog secondary looking to deliver a friendly nudge to Bulldog wide outs. So far, Peters has escaped the unofficial greeting from his classmate and close friend.

"I haven't got him yet," McLaurin said with a smile. "He knows that it's all love between us though. He knows what happens on the field stays on the field and there could be nothing between us. If I give him one, I give him one. I am not going to try to hard to get after him though."

With a new defensive alignment, new coverages and new blitz packages there is a lot to learn for Bulldog defenders. McLaurin reports that the learning curve has been sped up due the energy of the new Bulldog coaches as well as the returning players hungry for their opportunities. 

"It's always a great thing to learn and it's fun to learn a new scheme," McLaurin said. "Once you learn your plays, you just have fun and play the game like you know how. I'm really having a lot of fun. I love Coach (Peter) Sirmon and the rest of the staff. I love what we're trying to do out here. I feel like it's going to be a really great year for us."

Sirmon entered the Bulldog locker room with a truck load of credibility due to his own experiences as a college football player and a former NFL linebacker. McLaurin reports that it did not take long for the former USC assistant to win over the team.

"It was just really how he came in," McLaurin said. "He was just so determined and you could see that. I think he's everything we needed in a coach. We just feel like he's a coach who is willing and ready to ride. We're all behind him."

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