"This is the best I have felt since before the injury," Chris Stamps said. "I originally hurt it in tenth grade. Right now, I am just doing the things I did to get me to this point, so I will feel right at 100%."
Stamps finished up his senior year at Vicksburg, Mississippi's Warren Central High School under 170 pounds. Now free to go through the full strength and conditioning regimen, Stamps has been able to add some mass and muscle.
"Right now, I am at 180," Stamps said. "Going into my first season playing, I kind of want to play around at 180 and see how I feel playing at a heavier weight. Some of the guys in the NFL play corner at six foot, 190. I would love to have the frame that those guys have. Receivers these days are a lot bigger and I would like to be able to match up with anybody."
In addition to being bigger and stronger, Stamps has improved his football I.Q under the direction of Mississippi State corners' coach Terrell Buckley. As one of the top corners of his generation, Buckley, honed his style of play into one of intimidation and mental toughness. Stamps reports that Buckley is no different as a coach than he was as a player.
"I have learned a lot from Coach Buck," Stamps said. "I have learned a lot about bump and run technique. The first day he got here, he told us that we are going to press. He has helped us out a lot with the bump and run. All of the corners have made a lot of improvements since he got here."
While many coaches talk tough and use buzz words to illustrate their point, Buckley's unit has done the talking for him during fall camp. The production level of the pass defenders is on the rise.
"This spring and fall we gave the offense a lot more problems than we ever had before," Stamps shared. "They come up to us all of the time and ask us what we're doing. Some of them are even asking Coach Buckley about things to see what he can tell them to help them out. We have created some issues this fall and spring."
For a player learning the ropes of the college game, Stamps has had the benefit of a pair of seniors at the top of the Bulldog depth chart who are willing to share their knowledge of the game of football.
"I have learned how to work by watching them," Stamps said. "Ced (Jiles) has been in the program five years and Tolondo (Cleveland) four years. You can always tell the difference in the way those guys work as opposed to a younger guy. What I hope to get from them is the work ethic. I always want to match their intensity. I want to bring the same fire to the table that they do everyday."
The Bulldogs are long on experience in the front seven and extremely talented at safety. With two new day one starters at corner, Bulldog fans are not sure what to expect from that personnel grouping. Stamps reports that he feels confident that his guys will do their job this fall.
"Our starters have some experience," Stamps said of Cleveland and Jiles. "What the fans can look forward to is some guys being well coached, guys who are working hard and guys who are going to lay it all out there on the line for Mississippi State every Saturday.
"We are going to keep getting better and we're going to keep working our technique everyday in practice. Our wide receivers here give us great competition. Working against them everyday gets us ready for the season."
The Bulldogs begin their season September 3rd against South Alabama. Kickoff is set for 11 A.M. as Mississippi State welcomes the Bulldog family home for the 2016 season opener. Tickets remain available.