Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Memphian Deddrick Thomas is ready to show the SEC what he can do.

Mississippi State was able to redshirt several talented players last season. Slot receiver Deddrick Thomas emerges from his first year on the Mississippi State campus bigger, faster and stronger. With the first college game of his career now just weeks away, Thomas is more eager than ever to fine tune his craft in hopes of making a real impact in the Bulldog offense.

"I feel like I am a lot smarter this year," Deddrick Thomas said. "I had a young mind and I really didn't know that much. I am a lot more comfortable now. I feel like no matter where (Coach Billy Gonzales) puts me that I can be successful. Just knowing more makes me feel better."

Gonzales is one who stresses the finer points of things and shows a tremendous amount of attention to detail. Thomas reports that the veteran position coach has pushed him to increase his knowledge of the game.

"He really wants me to know everything," Thomas said of Gonzales. "You never know who may go down, so he wants me to learn as much as I can. He wants me to know all of the positions like the back of my hand. He is always saying that I am so versatile that he can just put me anywhere. He wants me to know what I am supposed to do at all of the spots and be ready to perform."

Thomas' classmate and fellow wide out Keith Mixon has proven to be a solid friend and teammate during the past year in Starkville. The pair of redshirt frosh have worked hard to prepare for their moment.

"I feel like we make each other better," Thomas. "I am always trying to help him out. We talk to each other about the things we do on our routes. If I see something, then I tell him and if he sees me do something, then he will tell me. 

 "We just try to piggy back off of each other. We try new things out together. We watch each other and try to find what works best for both of us. We are just trying to help each other get better and help the team."

Being on the receiving end of things, Thomas has had a front row seat as the Bulldog quarterback battle has taken place. While Thomas is unsure who will get the lion's share of the pass attempts this fall, he reports that he is confident in all of the Mississippi State quarterbacks.

"All three of them are looking good to me," Thomas said. "We have been practicing together and I have worked out individually with all of them. I am comfortable with all of them. They've all been working hard."

Last fall, Thomas served with fellow redshirt freshman Nick Tiano on the scout team. The Tennessee natives bonded during that time. Thomas reports that he has been pleased with how the young signal caller has developed during his time in Starkville.

"He's a hard runner," Thomas said of Tiano. "I have seen him put his shoulder down and just embrace the hit. He has grown a lot since he has been here. He's done a great job and worked hard ever since we got here."

While the Bulldogs are still sorting through who will be the starting quarterback this season, Thomas knows there is work to do team wide before the season opener on September 3rd.

"We just need to focus on playing as a unit," Thomas said. "Our offense has a role in playing defense. We help them out by putting them in good situations and keeping them out of bad positions on the field. We will be a better team as a whole, if we all put each other in a position to be successful."

South Alabama will be the opponent when Mississippi State opens the season at home Saturday, September 3rd. Kickoff is slated for 11 A.M. and tickets for the contest remain available. The Bulldogs are considered a heavy favorite in the game.

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