Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Former Callaway standout has practiced at nearly every position on the Mississippi State offensive line.

Finally healthy, senior offensive lineman Jocquell Johnson is ready to help the Mississippi State Bulldogs in anyway he can. Johnson enrolled at Mississippi State in 2014 nursing an ailing shoulder. After a redshirt year to recover and get stronger, the former Co-Lin standout played in seven games last fall. In his final year in Starkville, Johnson wants to build on hard work and solid health.

Jocquell Johnson has taken practice reps at just about every position on the offensive line and has seen his name listed on the Bulldogs' two deep chart in multiple positions. Now the former tackle appears to have found his home in the middle of things.

"I am working at center now," Johnson said. "I have been running with the twos at center. So far everything has been going pretty good."

Due to some injuries last season, the Bulldogs had to do some juggling with their personnel Johnson saw action in both non-league as well as SEC contests. When his number is called as a senior, Johnson reports he will be ready to answer the bell.

"I feel like I am a lot more prepared this year," Johnson said "I am still working on being more consistent. I want to know everything inside and out, but I feel like I am in a pretty good position right now."

Mississippi State offensive line coach, John Hevesy, has done some mixing and matching with his personnel in an effort to build chemistry and to see how players respond in different situations. Johnson has even seen first team center, Jamaal Clayborn, lined up beside him as an offensive guard.

"We have done that once or twice," Johnson said. "I don't think that's something that is going to happen, but Coach Hevesy likes to experiment. I think he just wanted to see what would happen if we did that. You never know what might happen during the season, so we do some moving around during camp."

Johnson came to Mississippi State in hopes of competing for a starting spot immediately. Having sat out his initial year on campus as a redshirt, Johnson found himself down the depth chart when he returned to active duty. Sliding inside from tackle to the interior took some getting used to, but the personable senior reports he is getting the hang of it.

"I can't say I am completely where I need to be, but I am heading in the right direction," Johnson said. "I am not were I need to be, but I am a long way from where I was. I still have a lot room for improvement. I am just trying to get better every day."

Fall practice is nearly three weeks old, so Johnson and the rest of the blocking Bulldogs have had a chance to asses their progress. Johnson believes that the makings of a good unit are on campus and working well together.

"I think we all have the drive to be better," Johnson said. "We work technique all of the time and everyday we push each other to give our best throughout it all. Everybody is working to get better every single day."

The big question Bulldogs fans want to ask is will the offensive front improve over last year's showing? To hear Johnson tell it, the Bulldogs have no designs on taking a step backwards.

"We worked hard last year and we're working hard this year," Johnson said. "I feel like we have pushed each other a lot more this year. We have put in a lot more time together on and off the field and in the meeting room watching film and studying defenses."

Mississippi State will host South Alabama on September 3rd in the season opener for both teams. While the hay is not necessarily in the proverbially barn so to speak, Johnson feels confident that his team will be ready when the season begins.

"We just have to continue doing what we're doing," Johnson said. "I feel like we're getting better every day. We just need to keep pushing each other and get better with out technique. We just need to keep each other up and stay motivated. If we work hard and stay together, then everything else will fall into place."


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