Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Clinton standout Grant Harris is eager to help along the Mississippi State defensive front.

Mississippi State will likely start four seniors along their defensive line come Saturday. Behind a crop of talented seniors are several up and coming underclassmen who are eager to have their own opportunities. Redshirt sophomore Grant Harris had a taste of college play a season ago in five Bulldog games. This fall, Harris is eager for a bigger bite.

"Things have going pretty good for me this year," Grant Harris said. "I have moved to defensive tackle. I feel like that is probably the best place for me to get more playing time. In the 3-4 scheme, I feel like playing defensive tackle is better for my body type. I feel comfortable there."

Harris entered the Mississippi State program with designs of staying at defensive end. After a couple of years in the Bulldog strength and conditioning program, Harris has added some mass and strength. Now lining up closer to the football, Harris believes he can handle the rigors of interior line play.

"You have to play with more power on the inside." Harris explained. "It's different than playing defensive end. Things don't always happen as fast on the end. You get a chance to run off of the ball and see what's going on. Playing defensive tackle, things start happening in that first moment. You have to really lock into your keys and see what they're going to give you."

In addition to learning a new position and scheme, Harris has had to get to know a new position coach. NFL veteran assistant Brian Baker has done his part to aid in Harris' transition from defensive end to tackle.

"Coach Bake, he's a great coach," Harris said. "He's coached me up in a lot of different ways and helped me get better at a lot of things. I am just going to keep working hard with him and that we're both going to go a long way together like that."

To a man, the Mississippi State defensive unit has praised the move from the 4-3 cover two defensive to an attacking style of defensive from the 3-4 alignment. Harris is more than happy to add his vote to the positive side of the ledger in the informal poll of player approval. 

"This is a player's defense," Harris said. "It is set up for anybody to make plays. It's not designed for one player or one group to make the plays. This defense is designed for any of us to go out there and make the plays. I think that's the best part about it and everybody is really excited about it."

In his first season on the Bulldogs' active roster, Harris went to work in a reserve role. While his name is not at the top of the depth chart just yet, Harris is chomping at the bit to hear his number called. When that time comes, the Clinton High School alum reports that he will be prepared to serve. 

"I am ready and I am hungry," Harris said. "I am ready to get into everything a lot more this year and have a chance to really prove myself. I am ready to play and help the team in anyway that I can. I am ready to get on the field again."

The Bulldogs will tee it up this weekend in the season opener against South Alabama. Harris reports that the final days of clean up are gone and that it is time for the Dawgs to go play ball.

"We just need to keep working hard and work on perfecting our craft," Harris said. "It's just about getting better everyday and working to get better everyday. We are trying to accomplish a goal this year and that's what we're going to do. It's time to go play now."

Mississippi State will host South Alabama on Saturday with kickoff set for 11 AM. There is now a clear bag policy in effect for Davis Wade Stadium, so fans are encouraged to plan accordingly. There is also a heat advisory implemented for the weekend. Fans will be permitted to bring water into the stadium and purchase water at a discounted price this weekend,

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