Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Lashard Durr Getting Up to Senior College Speed in Corner Competition

It happens to them all. Lashard Durr just didn’t expect his reality check to be so…real.

“When I first got here I thought I would come in and just do my thing,” transfer cornerback Durr admitted. “They woke me up real quick. It ain’t as easy as it was in juco.”

‘They’ being a particular ‘he’. In this case it was veteran receiver Fred Brown during one of Durr’s first spring practice sessions.

“He hit me with a double-move and I was like oooooh…” Durr said. “It was like hey, you’re in the SEC now.”

Ironically Durr is the only one of that spring practice pairing still in the SEC since Brown was dismissed. Durr, he’s no longer just practicing. The junior is working for a promotion at cornerback and has an excellent chance to win it.

“It’s going good,” Durr said of his first preseason week. “I’m going to get plenty of playing time. I might start some games and then I might not start some games.”

Given his druthers of course… For that matter his Mississippi State defensive staff are pushing him to take one of the starting cornerback spots in 2016. And in-turn, push both the veterans—Tolando Cleveland and Cedric Jiles—to raise their own games.

Who emerges as the top two on September 3 won’t be seen until, well, September 3 when the Bulldog defense takes to Scott Field. The fact remains, after routing high school star Durr through Copiah-Lincoln for a couple of years, State coaches brought him back to Starkville for a reason.

“They told me coming in they were looking for me to play right away. So that means I’ve got to make sure my game is good.”

A mid-year re-recruit, Durr was qualified for spring enrollment and practice. There he did show some good game some days, alternating with both the first- and second-teams as well as flipping from side to side. New corners coach Terrell Buckley gave every corner Dog a fair look in all settings, remember.

Nor has Buckley tipped his hand on who he expects to emerge as starters after August work. Keeping everyone on edge is the way to keep competition tight, Durr agrees.

“We’re all in the rotation that we’re all going to play. Coach is looking for us to play. So we’re all ready to get on the field and make plays.”

Though he signed on with State thinking he’d play for one set of coaches, Durr has found a fast fit with an all-new defensive staff. It’s a case of good timing in fact.

“I love Coach Buck. The techniques he teaches, it works. I didn’t think it’d work but it works. The things I did today really work.” That sounds odd but fact is when a guy has worked off superior athletic ability for so long at different levels, there really is a learning curve.

Or, a reality check, maybe?

“It surprised me, it woke me up like dang, that really works! So I’d better start doing what he says do.” Besides, learning NFL-type techniques for feet and hands and angles and such show Durr what is required beyond the SEC level.

Mostly, “Go out and make plays when we have a chance,” Durr said. “Everything is getting even faster so I’m in there learning everything. I’m just out there having fun, making plays. It’s going good.”

It’s also good that even in competition these cornerbacks communicate. Bad as Durr wants a top job, this is still training camp. Besides…what better way to climb the depth chart than learn how the older hands handle things?

“We just all as DBs we’re a big family helping each other. If I do something wrong they’re going to get on to me, and I’m like you’re right, I’ve got to do right and make plays. So when they tell me something I listen because I’m new, my first year here.”

New to this level, yes. New to making plays? Not at all, as Durr proved playing both ways in high school and for a good Co-Lin club. Sure, everybody now is fast and big and strong and tough. “Everybody is on the same level as me, it’s just crazy.” But emerging as a starting SEC cornerback this first fall?

That’s not crazy talk at all.

“It’d be good to be a starter! But I’m just taking my time, learning the plays, making sure I know what I’m doing. Before they can just throw me out in the trenches they have to trust me first.”

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