Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

In his second season at corner, Graham is drawing praise.

Jamoral Graham arrived at Mississippi State as one of the top skill players in Mississippi for his signing class. The Newton County freshman was pressed into service in his first season in Starkville as a punt returner and wide receiver. Due to a team need, Graham made the switch over to defense in 2015. In his second season at corner, Graham appears to be making some strides.

Earlier this week, Mississippi State defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon mentioned Jamoral Graham by name when he discussed the cornerbacks who were standing out in fall camp. Senior corner Cedric Jiles also mentioned Graham as a player who is getting some work with the first team defense. 

Graham reports that he is simply trying to find a way to help the Bulldog team be successful this season and next. Working at corner appears to be what fits Graham best.

"It has been a journey," Graham said with a sly smile. "It's a big (change) coming from receiver to DB, because you go from running routes to holding down receivers. I'm coming along. I am just trying to learn from Ced Jiles and Tolando (Cleveland) and Coach (Terrell) Buckley and Coach Sirmon.

"(Playing receiver) helps, because it lets me know splits and the route tree. There is a lot going on. You just have to have a stable mind, stay calm and keep relaxed and everything should be okay."

While Graham is happy to earn some praise for his work in practice, the true junior reports that he wants to play his best football when it matters most, in games. The guidance given from the Bulldog coaching staff appears to be aiding in that pursuit.

"Coach Sirmon is going to teach you hard and coach you hard," Graham said. "I try to lean behind the seniors. I am just trying to fit in where I get in. Sometimes you can try to guess, but playing corner is really about instincts. It's about playing and being an athlete. It's really about how you've been coached and the things you practice."

In his third season in the Mississippi State program, Graham is getting to his his third position coach. Coach Billy Gonzales mentored Graham as a freshman receiver. Last fall, Deshea Townsend laid the first building blocks in Graham's transition to corner. Now former NFL star, Terrell Buckley has the charge of taking Graham to the next phase of his development. 

"Coach Buck is a great coach," Graham said. "He won the Thorpe. He was a big time cornerback. He is coaching us good and he wants us to follow behind our seniors. He is coaching me hard and he stays on my butt everyday. I am just trying to maintain and earn a spot.

"I didn't start good when I first made the (change). After a while, Coach Buck taught us a couple of techniques. I got with Tolando and Ced and they taught me a couple of things. I have done some late night studying and picked up a couple of tips. I feel like I am doing pretty good right now."

Graham reports that the move to corner was made a bit easier by the fact that Cleveland took the former four star under his wing and helped him learn the ropes of playing defense on the college level.

"Tolando is a big time guy," Graham said. "He is on my case everyday about things. He is always telling me to be ready. Ced stays on me too. We all have our ups and downs, but those guys are leading us out there and we're just all trying to get right."

Learning a new position, a new coach and a new defensive scheme can be a daunting task. Graham reports that Buckley has worked hard to keep things simple and for his corners to work hard on fine tuning their craft a little each day.

"He really wants you to stay square," Graham explained. "He stresses a lot of pressing technique. He wants us to stay on top and not get beat deep. He wants us to keep our eyes on the right keys and just not get scored on."

With a pair of seniors, Cleveland and Jiles, expected to start, Graham is working hard to ensure that he is ready to go when his number is called. 

"I feel like I am in the rotation," Graham said. "I just have to follow behind my seniors and just keep staying committed to what we have going on. I think I should be okay."

Graham and the rest of the Bulldogs will welcome Bulldog fans along with the Jaguars of South Alabama to Davis Wade Stadium on September 3rd for the 2016 season opener. Kickoff is set for 11 A.M. and tickets remain available.

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