Steve Robertson - Genespage.com

Defensive end Johnathan Calvin is looking to make the most of his senior season.

Mississippi State saw defensive end Johnathan Calvin make his first Bulldog start earlier this year, when the Co-Lin transfer filled in for senior Ryan Brown who missed the Belk Bowl after undergoing season ending surgery. Calvin made his presence felt immediately as he pressured NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett into a turnover.

Now a senior in Starkville, Calvin is working towards a starting spot on newly hired defensive line coach Brian Baker's starting line-up. While the Jackson, Mississippi native found his name second on the depth chart most of the spring, Calvin was among the top performers in the Maroon and White game registering three quarterback sacks.

The Bulldogs have had a change in defensive alignment and defensive philosophy since closing out the 2015 season. Calvin reports that he is getting up to speed with Coach Baker's way of doing things.

"Things are a lot different now," Calvin explained. "Coach (David) Turner ran a four man front and Coach Baker is running a three man. There are a lot of different techniques, but at the same time it's about keying your keys. 

"We have different assignments now, because the three man and the four man are totally different. It takes some getting used to."

Calvin reports that the job of the defensive ends are a bit more challenging now. With different spacing and recognizing new blocking schemes, getting off of the ball is more important than ever.

"We have to be more physical now for sure," Calvin said. "For a nose guard it's probably the same as always, but for the ends we have to be more physical. The physicality is a bigger part of things."

The Bulldogs are looking to replace some talented players such as junior Chris Jones and departed senior Ryan Brown who will both be listening for their names later this week as professional football teams make their selections in the annual spring draft.

The returning defensive linemen appear to be getting accustomed to the new front, new terminology and new brand of Bulldog defense.

"Everybody is going along good and getting it down," Calvin said. "The older guys, we have to lead more. We have to always be a good example to the younger guys. We have to learn to be more vocal. I know that I need to step up and be a leader. That's something I am not used to, but I have to get used to it. I'm a senior now."

The road to becoming an SEC senior football player had a few twists and turns along the way. The Murrah High School product began his college career at Co-Lin Community College and is now battling for a starting position in America's toughest football league. Looking back over it all, Calvin gets a little nostalgic.

"I am just happy to here at Mississippi State," Calvin said with a smile. "There were times coming up, I didn't know if I would make it this far. Now that I'm here, I am coming out ready to work hard everyday. I'm trying to make the most of my opportunity."

Coach Peter Sirmon is already earning the reputation of being a players' coach. Calvin reports that his impressions of the new boss of Bulldog defense have been very positive. The talented pass rusher is working towards making himself an integral part of the Mississippi State defensive front.

"I am working hard everyday, I am getting in the film room and I am doing all I can to learn this new scheme," Calvin said. "I feel like if I do all of that and just keep working hard that all of that will pay off.

"I feel like I'm a strong pass rusher, but I am working on getting better at that and everything else. Every practice, I tried to find one thing to really focus on do better with in every drill. This summer, I am going to be working hard every single day and doing all I can to get better."

Calvin had a hand in 27 tackles as a junior including 5.5 for loss. Despite playing largely as a reserve in 2015, Calvin's five quarterback hurries was good for third best on the team. As fall camp begins, Calvin and fellow senior Torrey Dale will continue their competition for first place on the season opening depth chart.


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