Croom Impressed With Freshman and a Walk-on WR

After his press conference Thursday afternoon, Coach Croom spoke with me in-depth about his freshmen offensive linemen and freshmen wide receivers. And one walk-on wide receiver that stood out during Thursday morning's practice.

During your press conference you mentioned how high you are on your two true freshmen offensive tackles, Michael Gates and Calvin Wilson. You aren't just any college coach, you've coached in the NFL for 17 years and have seen the best offensive linemen in the world. What is it about Wilson and Gates that impresses you so much?
"They have the total package. They have it all; size, speed, agility, intelligence, competitiveness, flexibility. Let me tell you something, if those two guys play up to their potential they are both going to be first-round draft choices. They have that kind of ability. There is no question. But they are freshmen."

How will you get that out of them? Will you be tougher on them in practice?
"No, I'm going to be tough on all of them. But, to get to that level, they have to want it more than anything else. You can't get to that level unless you want it. I've told them that they have the ability, but I asked them do they want it and are they willing to pay the price to get to that level?. That's the question. I don't have the answer, because it's up to them. I will tell you that there a lot of guys playing in the NFL at those two spots that don't have anywhere near their physical ability."

You also mentioned that this group of young offensive linemen have the potential to be as good as any offensive line in the nation in the future.
"Before it's through they can be. All these kids are coming back next year; Gates, Wilson, (Anthony) Dunning, (Johnny) Carpenter, (Anthony) Strauder. Those kids are going to play together for three years. Then, you have (Craig) Jenkins and (Chris) Spencer, both of whom will be players, too. They aren't as good as those other two tackles (Gates, Wilson), but they going to be good players.

"I'm not worried about the offensive line of the future, I'm just worried about now."

Carpenter is the one guy among them that is pretty small for an offensive lineman. What do you think about him?
"Johnny Carpenter is a good player. Johnny is the toughest one of all of them."

Would you say he's sort of like a miniature David Stewart, an MSU offensive lineman that you considered as tough as nails?
"Exactly. That's a good comparison. He is intense."

Do you see the potential for leadership from these guys?
"Oh yeah. These guys are good people. They are going to be fine. I have no worries about them."

What do you think about your freshmen wide receivers; Tay Bowser, Corey Gardhigh and Adron Chambers?
"They aren't in shape. That is one of their biggest problems. We are going to have to run them extra to get them in shape. Of the three, Tay is way ahead of the others right now as far as showing us potential for what he needs to do. He's very skinny and not as strong as he needs to be. They (all) have skills, but we are going to continue to recruit some receivers."

Do you think they will be able to play in the SEC this season?
"Tay and Gardhigh can. We'll have to wait and see how Adron is health-wise. He's still having some after-affects from his knee (injury and surgery). I think they can play, but we still have to recruit some more guys at that spot. Our depth is not good. Right now, (walk-on wide receiver) Jamayel Smith is ahead of all of them."

What have you seen from Smith that you like so much?
"He can make plays. I'm looking for play-makers. We are looking for guys that will make plays when you put the ball in the air. And he made them all this morning."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

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