It takes a lot of desire to come to a major college football program as a walk-on and work your way into the starting lineup. Sophomore Blake Jones has that desire, and it has paid off for him in only his third year at Mississippi State.

"I didn't come here expecting not to play," Jones said. "I came here thinking one day I was going to play and I worked hard to do it. Just because you're a walk-on does not mean you will not get to play, you just have to work hard to show them you can play. You have to want it."

Jones came to Mississippi State even though there were no scholarships available for him. After redshirting his freshman year and serving as the top back up at center last season, Jones was given a scholarship just before spring semester of last year.

About the scholarship Jones said "It felt good to finally be on scholarship. I was proud to get it, but nothing changed around here as far as what I expected or how hard I was going to work."

Blake saw his first collegiate start against LSU two games ago. He said he was surprised to get the start but excited about the chance. "I thought it was great," Jones said. "Tommy Watson actually told me because he said he had been moved back to guard. I went out and practiced that day and was running first string. It was something that I didn't expect but I definitely welcomed the opportunity."

Clearly Jones has the kind of determination it takes to be successful at this level. He knows that if you want to play, you are going to have to work hard at it, and that is exactly what he has done. His hard work is paying off earlier than he had expected.

"At the beginning of the year I was backup," Jones said. "You just try to be ready for your chance to get in the game. It is just a pleasure to be able to get in there and play with all of those guys that have been playing and contribute."

Jones said it has been a learning experience to get on the field with so many veteran players. He said, "With Tommy and Courtney (Lee) beside you it helps. You have to come in and play real well to be able to do what they do. Tommy knows more about playing time than I do. Anytime he sees something I can do or I have something to ask him about I'm glad he is there to help me out."

In only his second start, against Kentucky, Jones was able to help the offensive line control the game and open up holes for the running backs. Jones said, "It felt like we were controlling the line of scrimmage all across the front. It felt good to pound people. It was like old Mississippi State football, pounding it out with the running backs running hard for a lot of yards."

Jones likes to be physical on the line, and said that style of play was one of the things that attracted him to MSU. He said, "I definitely love the way we play. We want to attack people all the time and be physical. If you play on the offensive line you want to play like that, so it is definitely one of the things that brought me here."

With the offense struggling this season, Jones said he takes it as a challenge to step up and help the team. He said, "Anytime you get in there you want to make a difference and try to contribute. I want to do what I can. Anybody who is competitive will try to get better."

After a nervous start, Jones has settled in well with the offensive line. "I was kind of nervous in the LSU game," Blake said. "That game kind of got me accustomed to playing. In the Kentucky game I wasn't going to worry as much and I was just going to go out there and play."

Luckily for State, Jones is only in his second year of eligibility. He will continue to gain experience with each game. Jones said, "I have plenty of football left to play here. I'm glad the coaches are giving me the opportunity to start in my sophomore year.

As for the rest of this season, Jones just wants the team to continue to win and improve. He said, "My expectations are to win every game that we play. As long as we get wins I'd like the team to come together and maybe get a bowl bid. I don't think a lot of us have a lot of personal expectations, we just want to see some more wins on the board."

Talking with Blake Jones you discover the amount of intensity he has. This is a player who came to school as a walk-on, but has worked so hard since then he not only has a scholarship but a starting spot as well. Perhaps other players will take note of his accomplishments and be inspired to work just as hard.

Hank Allen is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. Hank is a student at Mississippi State University. He is also a reporter for the student newspaper, The Reflector. You can contact him by email at

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