You are one of the young guys who will be responsible for turning this program around. How will you be able to do that?
"The young players, what we have to do now is stay focused. We have three more years left. The last two years we've had top recruiting classes. With the new coach coming in and Coach Sherrill gone, we just have to put it together. We have a lot of guys who want to make this thing work."
What part will you play, individually, in turning it around?
"I'm just going to keep making plays for this team, let my teammates know that they can trust me. My job in high school was not to be just a player but to be a leader, also. I know I am going to lead the next guys when they come in. My job as the quarterback is to let the guys know you can't just throw in the towel. Everything doesn't go your way all the time. You just have to keep scratching. We are going to put this thing together before I leave Mississippi State."
CENTER CHRIS MCNEIL
How tough is it on this team right now?
"You take blow after blow and it is harder and harder to get up after each one. I think right now it's like we are just trying to find something, just something to give us that spark. If we can ever just get that spark back."
What do you think is lacking?
"We have to get our physical attitude back. It is up to the players. You can blame whoever you want, but it comes back to us. When we come out here on Saturdays, we have to be ready to play. Leaders have to step up and we are going to have to come together as a team and work through this. You have to have leaders for a team to survive."
Will tougher practices solve the problem?
"Tougher practices aren't it. When we go out to practice everyday, we are beating on each other. Coach Sherrill is an old school coach and that is one thing he believes in. I know players from other schools and we have more physical practices than a lot of them do. Physical practices aren't the problem."
You mentioned leaders earlier. Do you feel some of the young guys need to step up and become leaders?
"It is definitely going to rest on our shoulders. As far as my leadership skills, that is one thing I am going to try and progress with this year. I am planning on being an example on and off the field for everybody. I've made some mistakes, just like everybody else has, but going into next year, I want everybody to have a fresh focus and be ready to play ball next year."
Does the play of the young guys on this team give you hope for the immediate future?
"I definitely have hope for the future. Coming into next year, we are bringing just about everybody back. And a lot of the big plays that are being made are by the young guys. Omarr Conner is going to be an exceptional athlete. He practices hard. He is ready to play everyday. Going into the spring, that is one thing that we are going to have to have. The younger guys are going to have to come together."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.