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Mississippi State senior linebacker DeAndre Ward is a leader on special teams

Mississippi State senior linebacker DeAndre Ward takes great pride in being a leader on the MSU special teams.

"I am definitely a leader on the special teams," said Ward. "Coach always gets on me about being a leader on the special teams because that is my role on the team. You have to take advantage of all special team reps and my job as a leader is to make sure everybody knows the importance of it. I try to show that by going full speed on every rep. Then, when a guy looks at me they will understand what kind of passion and energy it takes to be successful on special teams."

Ward makes it a point to emphasize the importance of special teams to the younger guys.

"It is my job to get the younger guys onboard with being on special teams," he said. "Coming from high school to college a lot of times special teams is the biggest adjustment because a lot of those guys didn't have to play special teams in high school. Coming to college that is the way to the field early on. And it is a big part of the game because if you lose the special teams you probably lose the game."

And what makes special teams even more important is, unlike being on defense or offense, you are out there for one play. You don't do your job then your team could be down a touchdown.

"The difference between being on defense and being on special teams is there is just one play on special teams and that one play is very critical in the game," said Ward. "If you don't do your job on that one play then it could be a bust and you could set your team back."

From being a walk-on early in his career, to earning a scholarship, to being a leader on special teams, Ward has had a successful career. Now that career is about to come to a close.

"It has gone very, very fast for me," said Ward. "When you are a young guy you think you have all the time in the world. Then, before you know it, you are a senior, like Coach says, sitting on the front row. I remember sitting on the back row thinking I had all the time in the world. Now, it is my last season and everything that you have been working for was building up to this moment."

While Ward has accomplished a lot during his career, it hasn't sunk it yet.

"It really hasn't set in for me," said Ward. "I have always had high goals for myself. I always knew this was everything that I wanted to happen and it actually happened. But, as far as me taking pride in it, I really haven't had time to sit back and realize all the things that I have done. I am really just thankful for my teammates, my coaches and blessed for this opportunity."

He has one last goal for his senior season.

"It is a blessing to be where I am," said Ward. "Now, I just want to be able to do what I can to help this team go out on top."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network.

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