Junior LB Rico Bennett
What is your maximum bench and squat?
"My maximum bench was 290 and my maximum squat was 465. We did a lot of reps before we did it. If I could do it just one time I could probably have done about 320."
Are you trying to increase both of those?
"Yeah, I want to get my bench up a whole lot more."
What is your current weight?
Are you trying to do any specific things this summer to improve your play on the field?
"I want to gain a little more weight and gain it in the right places."
Do you think you have the defensive system down?
"I got most of it down. Coach Jones has me playing all the linebacker positions. I'm trying to learn all of them."
Which of the linebacker positions do you feel most comfortable with?
"The WILL linebacker."
Junior OL Chris McNeil
[As all of you know, Chris was suspended for breaking a team rule during the spring. While I didn't ask Chris what rule he broke since he and Coach Croom don't feel that is an issue that should be talked about due to privacy reasons, Chris told me it was ok to talk about his feelings about the suspension and his feelings toward Coach Croom.-Gene]
When you were suspended, did you understand the reason Coach Croom felt he had to do it. And did it, possibly, cause you to respect him even more?
"I definitely respect the man. He had to do what he did. I was comfortable with the decision and didn't question it at all. It was for the best of me. I don't fault the man at all."
Was your dad ok with what Coach Croom did?
"One of the first things he did was call my dad. And my dad agreed with everything. He told Coach Croom that he would support whatever he had to do."
Didn't you stay around the team even though you couldn't practice with them?
"Yes sir, I still came to the fieldhouse and stayed around everybody. I made a mistake and, in my mind, I felt that I had let the team down. I was the starting center and I was, pretty much, one of the leaders on this football team. I guess, in my own way, I felt that I had to find a way to pay these guys back. So, immediately after it happened, I started working out again."
When I saw you for the first time this week, you looked like you have been working really hard and had gained some weight. What did you do?
"I started eating a lot. I was about 287. Then, over the summer break, I went home and I actually got up to 310 pounds. I was doing some construction work and got back down to about 300. I was toting blocks on construction sites all day. Then, after work, I would go work out for 3 or 4 hours. All I've done is work out."
You've always been a hard worker. Do you now feel you are ready to take that to the field and be the center everybody believes you can be?
"I believe this past spring I was ready to be the starting center in the SEC. But I made a stupid decision that ended up costing me. I'm now going to have to work my way back up (the depth chart). I plan on doing everything in my power to get my position back."
Current center Brian Anderson, based on his play this past spring, is going to really make you earn it.
"I agree. From what I heard, Brian did very well. Because he didn't have many reps at center before this spring, that gave him an opportunity to step in and shine. It'll be interesting come two-a-days."
You've always been the strongest man on the team. What is your current maximum bench and squat?
"Before spring, I was benching somewhere around 425 and squatting about 600. Since the suspension, I have had about 6 or 7 weeks where I had the chance to work out on my own. My bench, after Coach Nowell correlates it up the bench, is now about 500 pounds and my squat is around 650."
Gene Swindoll is the owner/publisher of Gene's Page, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.