"I ended up at State but Eric was a few years behind me," said Corey Sears. "In high school, I was like three years ahead of him in the Converse Judson program."
Their time in Starkville came during the tenure of current MSU coach Jackie Sherrill, whose pipeline to the NFL shows 22 players currently active in the league.
"You don't know them all, but you still talk to them on the field after games," said Eric Brown. "I've visited with Fred Smoot, Big (Robert) Hicks was around for a while, Robert Bean, Greg Favors ... I can't name everybody but you do follow those sorts of things."
Sears received his degree in psychology but Brown didn't obtain his.
"I plan to go back eventually and get it," Brown said. "It will be in interdisciplinary studies."
Sears said his time in junior college helped shape him for these boom years. His six-figure income could not, he claims, have been earned without his time in junior college.
"It prepared me for later in college and later with the football," Sears said. "I got my academics started the right way. It made me mature early on.
"And for a kid who goes straight to a big school, they are likely to get redshirted. I was able to step right in and play immediately. That helped me to keep playing right out of high school and not have to wait. I learned (college) techniques and it was a boost."
Brown said ex-MSU defensive backs coach Melvin Smith helped his growth and he said he'll never forget the impact Jackie Sherrill had on him.
"You can't ever forget Jackie Wayne," Brown said. "He was good at showing you the business side to all this. He helped me see that this game is just like a business. This is just like a job. Jackie always took a business approach but you knew he cared about his players, too."
Brown has started 68 of his 69 career NFL games since being drafted by Denver Broncos in the second round back in 1998. His first season saw him pick up NFL All-Rookie honors as the Broncos beat Green Bay in the Super Bowl.
Pat Wright is a free lance writer who writes articles for Gene's Page.