(Torrey Dale) Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State veteran defensive lineman Torrey Dale is in the starting discussion.

During the recent flooding in south Louisiana, Kenner native Torrey Dale was far removed from harm's way as he took part in Mississippi State's fall football practices. While the former John Curtis Christian standout was safe himself, the talented defensive end kept an eye on the media reports from his native state to ensure that those he loved were both safe and dry.

The damage to the Pelican state is horrific. Louisiana's capital city, Baton Rouge, was especially hard hit. Dale has friends and former teammates attending LSU. While those nearest and dearest to Dale were not directly impacted, the concern for friends and extended family remained.

"It's always rough to have a natural disaster like that," Torrey Dale said. "When I was in sixth grade, Katrina hit and we lost our house. I had to live with my grandpa for a while. So I know the effects that can happen. You lose everything, everything that is precious and valuable to you. I know that Louisiana is going to come together as a state and rebuild just like they have every time before."

As a young middle schooler, Dale learned the harsh realities that go along with having to begin again. With the lessons learned after seeing his community destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, Dale can offer some sage advice for young people dealing with major loss for the first time.

"You really have to come together as one," Dale offered. "You have to just help everybody, because you never really know what the other person is going through. They may be going through the same thing as you or maybe even worse. It's really just about coming together as a community and just starting over together."

Now entering his fifth year on the Mississippi State campus. Dale is in the discussion for a starting position at defensive end. Last fall, Dale worked some at defensive tackle, because that is where the team had a need. The redshirt senior has seen a little bit of everything during his college football career.

"It's been a great journey," Dale shared. "You go out everyday with the mindset to get better. No matter how good you think you are, there is always room to improve and grow. It could be something as simple as footwork or hand placement, but anything like that you have to go out there with an open mind and look for the things you need to improve on to perfect your craft."

The Bulldog defensive front has undergone an overhaul since the Bulldogs blasted North Carolina State in the Belk Bowl. In fact, other than the returning players, the defense is essentially brand new. The Bulldogs have transitioned to a base 3-4 defensive alignment and completely restaffed the defensive coaching staff. 

Dale has seen some changes in his responsibilities as well. Now back outside as a defensive end, Dale is adjusting to more of a "four technique" rather than the five tech he played as an underclassmen edge rusher of the 4-3 scheme.

"I am comfortable with it," Dale said of where Coach Brian Baker instructs him to put his hand in the ground. "Honestly, I feel like a shade is a shade. So if you play a five, a four or you play a two, you are really going to play the same things. You're just lining up in a different spot.

"It took a little adjusting to, but overall, I like it. We'll just see what I can do with it this season."

In Dale's five years in Starkville, he has played for four defensive coordinators and three defensive line coaches. Change has proven to simply be another challenge for Dale and his teammates to overcome. 

"We're used to getting new people," Dale said. "Coach Baker coached in the NFL for about 19 or 20 years, so he knows exactly what they are looking for and exactly how to get there and stay there. You just try to take all of that knowledge that he gives you and soak it up. You try to take something from everybody and Coach Bake has a lot to take, obviously."

Baker was blessed to find several seniors to work with in his personnel grouping. The Bulldog rotation up front on defense will feature a two deep chart that has no shortage on experience. Some talented newcomers have also proven to be capable reinforcements so far in fall camp. Dale believes his unit can be a tone setter for Coach Peter Sirmon's defense.

"With any football team, you can win or lose by your front," Dale said. "It all starts up front. I feel like with our seniors and our leadership that we can really help the defense and be the tip of the spear out there.

"We just have to go hard every time no matter if it's hot, raining or super hot as it always is. Communication is the key on all fronts, so we have to be sure we're communicating well."

Dale and the rest of the Bulldogs will get a chance to test themselves against an unfriendly opponent on September 3rd when South Alabama makes the return trip to Starkville. The Bulldogs last played the Jaguars in 2014, when the nation's future #1 rolled in Mobile 35-3. Kickoff for the season opener is set for 11 A.M. and tickets are still currently available, but a capacity crowd is expected. 

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