Several of the current Mississippi State commitments elected to pass on the June camp sessions in Starkville, but have every intention of being on campus for the final camp session of the summer on July 22nd. Paul Gainer is one who falls into the category.
While the three star offensive lineman has not been on the grind in the land of Maroon and White, Gainer has been working hard to prepare for the up coming season.
"I have been really busy with everything this summer," Gainer said. "We have been working hard and the team looks good. I like what I have seen from everybody. We have been able to get some good work in and I think that's really going to help us this season."
Gautier High School went 5-6 last fall and found themselves on the outside looking in when the state playoffs began. Gainer believes the 2016 Gators have a chance to be a much better team this fall.
"We have a young quarterback who came up from the 9th grade who looks pretty good," Gainer said. "He's athletic and he's going to be able to help us. I feel we have a good team coming back and with some of these younger guys coming up, we can be a better team this year."
As far as personal goals, most of Gainer's focus is on having a strong senior season in hopes of leaving a lasting legacy at GHS.
"My first goal is to be healthy," Gainer said. "Outside of being healthy, I want to be the best leader I can be for the team, I want to get to the playoffs and I want to beat Pascagoula. It's been about six years since we beat them and I want our senior class to be able to win that one for sure."
In order to beat Pascagoula, Gainer will likely have to handle some of the responsibilities of slowing down Mississippi State pledge defensive tackle James Jackson. While the two have become good friends over the course of the past few months, they are still friendly foes on the field for one more year.
Come November, the pair will put their friendship aside and get after each other. For now, the talk of the annual rivalry game is just friendly jabbing. The two are eager to get together later this month and wear the same colors in Starkville.
"James was just texting me last night and saying that we needed to get up to Starkville together soon," Gainer said. "He's right about that and I am looking forward to getting up there for the Big Dawg camp. It is going to be fun to work with the coaches and just get to be around all of the players. I'm excited about it."
Gainer is one of 17 current verbal commitments towards the 2017 Mississippi State signing class. Nine of those seventeen will be seniors in Mississippi High Schools this fall.