“He was a great of all time, he won the Thorpe, he had 21 picks in college,” Jiles said. “We all want to be on his level some day.”
None of Mississippi State’s current corner-men are claiming such status this day. At the same time Buckley is more than an example. The first-year cornerbacks coach is busy preparing his unit for the upcoming season.
A unit topped by the two seniors and veterans, Jiles and Tolando Cleveland. Not that anyone(s) have been named starters for September 3 just yet, of course. For that matter when the entire Bulldog squad opens their Thursday evening scrimmage the depth chart means nothing.
For now, at least, “I’m practicing with the ones,” Jiles said. “It’s me, Tolando. Jamoral Graham gets in the mix with, Lashard (Durr), Chris Rayford.” And on down the age roster with Chris Stamps, Cam Dantzler, splitting-time safety Maurice Smitherman and so on. “We’ve got everybody, but yeah, it’s me and Tolando with the ones.”
Jiles is not new to first-team or at least first-rotation duty. If not for a series of injury setbacks along the way he might well have already locked down a starting spot for 2016. Still he is back for one more shot, and will make the most of opportunity. He’s also up to 190 stout pounds, having played at 185 as a junior.
“It’s motivation to step on the field and fulfill that role, finally. Because it’s been a long time coming. I’m excited, I feel I’m definitely ready to go.”
That’s good word because of all areas on this Bulldog defense the largest questions shine on both cornerback positions. This is partly a comment on how strong the other units are supposed to be. But it also reflects the graduations of Taveze Calhoun and Will Redmond…and 2015 downfield coverage that wasn’t exactly great anyway.
Jiles predicts this is going to change in 2016. Their new coach is one reason. Their own progress is the other he tells fans to watch the corners cover.
“I would say they’re in for an exciting year. Because we’re all prepared and slowly but surely turning into great corners. We have a guy that knows what he’s doing and I feel he’s making a big difference.”