"I just worked primarily at tight end," said Dezmond Sherrod. "That's where they feel they need me the most. They kept me there this spring so I could learn all the little things associated with being a tight end in this league. Plus, we've got a good fullback in Bryson Davis and his backup Casey Rogers. I think fullback and tight end are our strong points and I don't see any major problems there.
"I know how vital myself and (Eric) Butler are to this offense. In the SEC, you better have to tight ends. This spring, Butler was limited so I just stepped up to the plate and showed the coaches that come game time, they can rely on the next person without missing a beat at tight end."
The 6-foot-2 and 245-pound Sherrod made the most of his time in the spring, re-learning the basics of the role of the tight end in State's West Coast offense.
"Overall, I think I had a pretty good spring," said Sherrod. "I wanted to focus on the basics of the offense. I worked on hat placement with my blocks, getting my pads low and getting off the line quicker to pick up those blitzing linebackers. But I really worked on improving my blocking and catching this spring and I feel good, coming away from spring practice, that I did both well."
Entering his junior campaign this fall, Sherrod hopes to take his improvements in the catching department to the field and game situations. Sherrod has a career total of five catches for 26 yards, which are numbers he plans to increase in a big way in 2006.
More importantly, Sherrod gives the Bulldogs another solid blocker along the offensive front.
"I believe tight end fits me the best," said Sherrod. "Especially in this offense. I believe I am the best blocking tight end. In the SEC, you play against a lot of big guys and you need to block well to run the ball well. But I know one of my goals is to be a reliable receiver in this offense, and I have to keep working on improving those skills at tight end.
"I mean, in the spring game I had one catch for like 13 or so yards. Now I know that's not great but in the season, if I get my couple of grabs and help the blocking out and Butler gets his two or three catches, then that is a good afternoon for the tight ends."
And in Sherrod's opinion, the guy getting him and Butler the ball this fall also made tremendous strides. But it wasn't just Mike Henig's physical progression that grabbed Sherrod's attention.
"I thought Mike improved tremendously," said Sherrod of his quarterback. "He stepped into more of a leadership role, helping receivers with their routes and getting everybody where they are supposed to be. It really helped us as receivers running the right routes every time with Mike being more of a leader.
"It also really opens Omarr (Conner) up to at receiver. That is a great idea. I mean, Omarr is the overall leader of the offense and you need a great leader like that at receiver. He makes good decisions, makes plays and picks everybody up when they are down."
Like every other summer, Sherrod is currently using his time wisely, in individual workouts and in the class room. Sherrod is majoring in general business administration, with an emphasis on financial planning, risk management and insurance. Sherrod could possibly graduate in December and whenever he gets his first college diploma, Sherrod will enter graduate school for his master's degree in business next season while taking to the field one final season.
"Big accomplishment," said Sherrod of graduating possibly in December. "Going to summer school and staying on campus not only help athletically but obviously academically."
Of course, being in Sylvester Croom's summer sessions, Sherrod already knows what is expected from him this summer along with the rest of the Bulldogs.
"Get in top-notch condition," said Sherrod. "Coach Croom wants us to be the best conditioned football players in the SEC so we know what we all have to do this summer. Plus, I am really working on my speed and agility."
And hopefully, all that extra work will help Sherrod and the Bulldogs snap a string of five straight losing campaigns. For Sherrod, his losing streak goes back even further if you count the three straight losing seasons he experienced during his prep days at Caledonia High School.
Sherrod notes that he doesn't dwell on the losses. But he also admits it's time to start winning, particularly in the fall.
"I think the year before my sophomore year Caledonia was close to a winning season," said Sherrod of his prep days. "But we never did have a winning season. So it's time to start winning at State now, especially me in general. But I've never let it wear on me and you can't do that. You keep positive, and knowing that hard work will eventually pay off in this program.
"But I've never regretted a single day, whether it was at Caledonia or now at Mississippi State. I am very proud of where I am at but it would be good to start winning now."
Which is why Sherrod is putting so much focus on his improvement, whether it was in the spring or now in the grueling summer temps.
It all gears towards the start of the 2006 campaign, and with a different attitude, Sherrod could finally get that long-eluded winning season on the gridiron.
"We have to take it one game at a time so right now we are all about preparing for that first one, South Carolina on a Thursday night," said Sherrod. "We have to pay attention to details in practice and games. We can't have penalties and when we get down by a touchdown, we can't get down and forget all we've learned and find ourselves out of the game.
"We expect to win this year, and that's a big difference. We expect to win every game this year and definitely get to a bowl. I know fans will see that confidence this year in the Bulldogs, and they should expect us to win, too."
Paul Jones is a writer for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.