“No, sir,” Calhoun said. “He treats everybody the same, no matter whether you’re a starter, second string, third string. He’s going to treat you the same.”
Which probably means treated like a, ahem, Dog? Oh, well. As a sophomore in the system, Calhoun knows to expect coaching compliments about as often as comets come through. The best praise is simply scoring a starting job for Mississippi State, which Calhoun is claiming for 2016.
An offensive guard job to be specific, though third-year blocker Calhoun is also getting turns at center. Either way, here he is on the pre-season first team. Just as he intended.
“I feel good because that’s always been my goal. When I was a freshman in high school I never thought I’d even be here today, I never thought I had the talent to play SEC football. Now I’m here, it’s one of my dreams so I have to live it out.”
If Calhoun had honest questions about his SEC potential, all ought have been answered in 2015. After a redshirt year the Pleasant Grove, Ala., product earned backup status at both guard spots. He also saw some substitute action during the regular season at right guard; where he found himself starting in Charlotte in an injury-adjustment.
That did wonders for confidence and Calhoun built on it during spring. “It’s going good so far. I’m more comfortable with the plays, like the scheme of things. So it’s going real smooth, I can just go out there and play.”
He can also go out on the practice field, coaches around or not, and work on what needs improving. It’s not fun having issues exposed, but nothing helps a teachable player improve more. Pass protection, that’s where Calhoun needs to step it up for 2016.
The positives? “My run blocking. I’m more confident with that than last year, my redshirt year.” At the same time Calhoun and all linemen are still learning who they are blocking for. State ended spring with no less than six true running backs taking turns in various offensive sets. Then there were those four quarterbacks and their own different styles and tendencies. None of whom are named ‘Prescott’ of course.
“It’s big, replacing #15 in the backfield,” Calhoun agreed. At the same time, “We know who we’re working with and we’ve just got to work with what we’ve got.” So yeah, self-confidence counts up front. Calhoun is building his daily.
“Me myself, I want to keep playing the way I’m playing, play full-speed and don’t have any second guesses or thoughts about nothing. Just go 100 miles per hour.”
OK then. Now, from what spot will Calhoun go? The obvious option is still right guard and he did spend his spring there. Mostly. That Belk Bowl start of course was because all three interior spots had to adjust to center Jamaal Clayborn’s December injury. Left guard Justin Malone stepped in at center and did a fine job; while 12-game right guard starter Devon Desper swapped sides to left and Calhoun got the post-season promotion.
For 2016 it appears, if spring’s lineup sticks, that Desper will take left guard full-time and Calhoun the right. Or was spring just a test and tease? Calhoun doesn’t fret. “I’ll play either side Coach Hevesy wants me to,” he said.
“We know what Devon can do, I can play left and right. Last year all I played was right guard but I already had reps at left guard.”
Ahhh, but by the last week of this spring Calhoun was getting reps, or rather making snaps, at center. Clayborn is healthy and proven of course. But “You never know what’s going to happen,” Calhoun said, reminding about his Belk Bowl action. Besides, “When I got here as a redshirt that’s what I started playing at first.”
Indeed Calhoun did, and what he did get to show in fall ’14 had more than a few sideline observers speculating his natural position is over the ball. It certainly makes sense putting the lineman attested by many as the strongest Dog in the weightroom from all positions in the very middle of the action!
“So I think I could step up and do it,” said Calhoun.
August practices and September games will show if he gets the chance at center. Calhoun certainly will go into camp confident of his guard status. Wait a minute though…will he? Since his coach treats first, second, third, whatever team as equals? For that matter, should we even ask Calhoun to say if this means being treated equally good or equally, ummm, not?