DOG Safety Milas Randle Ready to Step Forward

Mississippi State football, after winning 33 of 48 games and going to three bowl games and playing in one SEC Championship game during the previous four years, had high hopes in 2001 of once again going to a bowl game and competing for the Western Division title and playing in the SEC Championship game. However, after winning their first game of the season against Memphis, they went into a tailspin that saw them lose five straight games, two of which were by two points.

Seemingly never able to recover from the early season tailspin, MSU went on to lose three of the last five to end the season at 3-8 and no bowl game. The only solace they received from the season was a late season victory over arch-rival Ole Miss.

DOG Safety Milas Randle, a junior who redshirted his first year and had not seen a losing season in his three years at State, is not willing to let what happened last season happen again.

"To go 3 and 8 was very disappointing for the coaches and my teammates," said Milas. "That was a wake up call for a lot of us because we weren't used to losing. When I got here in 1999, we were really, really good."

While losing was new for almost all of the players on last year's team, to make the losing even tougher to take was the fact that four of the eight losses were by three points are less, and another one, a loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa, was by seven points.

As we all know, the little things can make a difference. Winning and losing is no different, especially when the games are close. One play here or one play there can be the difference between a win or a loss. And this year's team seems to know that, according to Milas.

"We started summer school this past Tuesday and a lot of guys didn't even go home," said Milas. "A lot of them decided to just stay up here and work on their game and get better. I know almost everybody comes back for the second session, but I have seen just about everybody here for the first session. Coach (Sherrill) said that was rare."

But it's not just the fact that almost all the players are back in school for the first summer semester that has Milas optimistic. He also saw something different in the attitude of the players this past spring.

"A lot of leaders have emerged," said Milas. "There is a lot more camaraderie among the team. The DBs are back together, the way it was when Smoot and Pig were both here. I think that is what we were missing last year, a lot of guys coming together and making it work. Everybody, the coaches and the players, are on the same page."

And it's not just the new-found leadership and camaraderie that he has seen that is a positive sign. He has seen other things as well such as getting to know each other better.

"We really didn't know each other that well," said Milas about last year's team. "We had a lot of DBs come in from juco and a lot of freshmen. Since we have spent time together and have gotten to know each other and play together, I see a big difference in us coming together."

Now, the players have to carry all the things Milas has talked about over to the football field next season. Milas thinks they will.

"No one likes losing," said Milas. "I see that in these guys' eyes when we talk. I am sure they are determined. We all want to win. When you go home people, don't let you live that 3 and 8 down. We know what we have to do."

Milas is sure of one other thing: He will do his part to make sure the MSU family is happy with next year's season.

"I have been around since 1999 and I'm not used to losing," said Milas. "I am finally going to get a chance to really contribute a lot to the team. I have taken it upon myself to personally get over this hump. With me being a junior, I think it is my time to step to the front and be a leader. That is just the way it is going to have to be. I can't settle for anything less than that.

"I'm looking forward to having a good season next year."

A lot of Mississippi State fans, cautiously optimistic even after last year's sub-par season, are looking forward to the same thing, Milas.


Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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