Herrera in a Hurry to Start First College Camp

He's already spent a summer month on campus, getting a head-start on the fall. Still Dio Herrera says there is plenty of uncertainty about this first preseason at Mississippi State.<P> "There's some nervousness," the Bulldog freshman admitted as he officially checked in at the Shira Complex. "But I'm glad it's finally here. It's all going to start now."

‘All' being the annual August ritual of preseason football. Herrera was among the 17 freshmen reporting for Coach Sylvester Croom's first fall camp with State. He is also among the many Bulldog rookies who were already on the MSU campus, having attended during the second summer semester. He could have been at home in Hollywood, Fla., taking things easy, having a few final months with his high school friends, eating home cooking.

Instead Dio Herrera chose to sweat out this July in Starkville, getting ready "both physically and mentally" for college football and college life. It was the right call, he says.

"Oh, I'm glad I did it. It was the best thing I could have done. I just got to know the team and got to feeling kind of family-wise. It's going to make easier during two-a-days, instead of just showing up."

Certainly he showed up for formal reporting in far better condition than if he'd been relaxing back home. Herrera says when he first got to campus he was weighed at 328 pounds. A month later he is down to 320 and the pounds are still dropping. "I want to get down around 300, maybe 295." It's a mark of how well the 18-year-old has worked so far that it does not look like 320 pounds on his listed 6-4 frame. "I've done a lot of running," he grins.

Just driving from south Florida to Starkville will burn a few calories. And Herrera did more than lift and run in July, he took classes and got a jump on his schooling. In a couple of weeks the class schedule will be as demanding as anything the coaches require on the practice field. "It's a big difference from high school, I'm trying to keep my head together," he says. But Herrera has already demonstrated a willingness to work within the MSU system. He thinks it will fit him just fine.

"My personal goal is really to just come in and work as hard as I can. And however it goes from there I have no control over it. As long as I work as hard as I can I have no regrets after two-a-days. Everything will just play out."

For his part Herrera expects to begin playing—or practicing—as a rookie guard. Ranked among the top 100 offensive line prospects nationally by TheInsiders, he was an excellent blocker at Christian High School. A pretty good student, too making President's list twice. This combination made Herrera one of Croom's more interesting signees in the coach's first MSU recruiting class.

He has alternated between guard and tackle in high school and says his ultimate position is uncertain as he trims down and strengthens up. "But I' ll practice at guard, it's pretty much my true position." A crowded one of the MSU depth chart this fall, too, with a host of underclassmen already ahead of Herrera. "It's a lot of competition but I'll do the best I can," he says, noting he would not complain if asked to redshirt. "Really I have no clue, it's just how everything falls into place. I'm hoping it works out." Speaking of working out, Herrera has already done a lot of that at State.

He roomed with veteran Chris McNeil. "He brought me in under his wing and showed me around and everything," the rookie said. "He's a hard worker and I hope I can be like him.

"It was very valuable because he showed me to everybody, I wouldn't have known anybody. Even work-out wise it was helpful to make me feel better with the team."

Certainly Herrera felt good already about the program he signed on with. Though Croom didn't arrive at State until December the new man made an instant impact, along with the assistants who stayed with Herrera through the process up to signing day. "They were all very impressive together," the kid said.

Now it is his turn to make an impression on the coaches, starting this weekend. After years of dominating youngsters of his own age and smaller stature, Herrera is going to run into older, tested blockers and tacklers every day. Sometimes twice a day. "I don't know what two-a-days will be like, I haven't experienced it. I could tell you after we start.

"But I'm glad it's going to start now."

David Murray is the Editor of Dawgs' Bite magazine and the featured writer for the Dawgs Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. You can contact him by email at dawgbite@ebicom.net.

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