SR: Dicenzo, how did you become a Bulldog?
DM: It came down to State or Ole Miss. It really came down to the last day. Coach Davis and Coach Smith they came to the school to check on me some and that really helped me make my decision. They came and talked about education and about playing ball. In our family the main thing is getting our degree. That really cemented my decision. The year before I got there (1997) things were starting to come together and I wanted to be a part of it.
SR: I know your freshman year you wore number 27 and then switched over to number 12. Why did you make the switch?
DM: I wore number twelve ever since the eighth grade. In the seventh grade I was playing Quarterback. I used to call myself "Air Four". I grew up liking Steve McNair and my mother went to Alcorn. I used to go to most of their games when I was younger. I liked the way Steve played and at the time my mind was really set on playing Quarterback.
My ninth grade year they moved me up to play with the high school. One game, the game was kind of out of hand and my coach said," Let's try tailback." And I was like, "Coach, how do you take a handoff?" (laughs) I always used to give the hand off. The first time they gave it to me I went about eighty yards for a touchdown. I knew then my position was tailback.
SR: I always wondered if there was some special meaning to the number twelve, because Kevin Prentiss wore it, then you wore it and then Jerious.
DM: I tried to get it my freshman year. I tried to talk Kevin into giving it to me, but he didn't want to give it up. I understood because he was a senior. The reason I wore number 27 was when I came on my visit I had on an Eddie George jersey. Coach (Melvin) Smith said that was a good number for me. I really didn't think much about it, but when I got up there I told them I would take number 27. I told them after the season was over that I wanted to switch back to number 12. It was a number I wanted to stick with.
My senior year I was going to change it to number 1 or number 2, but my Mom told me I had kept that number for so many years I might as well keep it.
When Jerious came on his visit I told him I wanted to pass number 12 down to a talented player. I told him it was him and I told the coaches about it. At the time he wanted to get number 3. I told him, "Look I am leaving and this number 12 is a number you can live up to. " I think he really lived up to it. I am very proud of him getting drafted this year and I hope he does some good things.
SR: Well, let's go back to 1999. It was an incredible season. We started the year 8-0 and are ranked in the top ten, but no one wanted to give you any respect because you didn't play Florida, Georgia or Tennessee. What was the feeling among the team about the lack of respect?
DM: At that time we knew we what kind of team we had. We would listen to that, but it really just motivated us to be better. We took things one game at a time. We couldn't help how the schedule was set up, but we went out there and took care of business. In order to get respect you have to earn it and I believe that year we earned a lot of respect. Our defense earned a lot of respect. A lot of people were down on our defense, but they really carried us that year.
SR: Then we go into 2000, another great season. A lot of things are going our way and then we have some key injuries. To see the season end they way it did when we had some much promise had to be difficult.
DM: It hurt. We knew we had other guys that we could count on, but we didn't make enough plays to win the two ball games. Going in to that Ole Miss ball game, the Arkansas game really hurt us because we had a chance to win that game at the end and didn't get it. It took a lot out of us. We still had a chance to win the Egg Bowl, but Ole Miss made enough plays to win it.
SR: 2001 was expected to be a great season. You had some publications ranking you in the top ten and things seem to unravel. What happened that season?
DM: I think going into the weekend of the South Carolina game 9/11 had happened and that took a big toll on us. We were on a high after beating Memphis. We were feeling good about that and we were ready to play BYU. We were fired up and then 9/11 happened. We had some injuries that hurt us along the way too. I got hurt in the South Carolina game with a high ankle sprain and that stayed with me. We were in every game, but we didn't make enough plays to win the close ball games.
SR: At the end of the season you all had a chance to take out some frustration on Ole Miss and ruin their season. What were your preparations like for that ball game?
DM: It was special for our senior class. We wanted to be 3-1 against Ole Miss. I put the pressure of the load on myself, because I didn't want a .500 record in the Egg Bowl. I told a lot of guys in the locker room that I wanted to go out with a bang. A lot of guys really stepped up especially our defense. Our offense moved the ball very well. For me, that game was the greatest moment of my senior year.
SR: So tell me about the "Dicenzo Shake".
DM: I got that from J.J. (Johnson) when I first got up there. That came from Keffer. He did it. I just kind of kept it alive. Even today people come up and ask me to do "the shuffle" for them. I still kind of do the shuffle a little bit. I wanted to let the Keffer McGee family know that I remembered everything he did for Mississippi State while he was there. Even though I wasn't there when he was there, I watched him play and I admired him.
SR: And you even recruited Donald Lee to do it a little bit.
DM: We tried to keep it together. We made it our little 1A shuffle.
SR: I know you went to the Tennessee Titans as a free agent and things didn't work out for you. You're now at Co-Lin coaching running backs, what are your long term goals?
DM: I am trying to get my Masters and then hopefully I want to coach in the SEC or anywhere. My main goal is to help a young kid out that maybe was in the same situation I was in. I want to help and guide them and help them better themselves and be successful in life. That's my goal in life.
A lot of people ask me today, "What happened? Why didn't you make it in the league?"
I tell them that there is reason for it. I know God has a place for me and I feel that God wants me to be a coach and help a young kid out. If I can just help one out it will make my life better.
SR: I know you still follow the program very closely. What are your feelings about the direction of the program?
DM: Campus is a whole lot different from when I was there. When I went back to campus a while back I got lost. I was thinking everything was the same as when I was there, but it's not. Things are coming along.
I think this year the football team is going to show that they are bringing in the right guys. I think they have the opportunity to win more games this year. A lot of people are going to down them and I think that is going to motivate them a lot. I have a little brother who is walking on at State, so it's going to be fun.
SR: What's your brother's name?
DM: Eric Hodgkins. He plays fullback.
SR: What are your impressions of Coach Croom?
DM: The first time I met him I respected him and felt he would be a great coach. I think he is doing a lot of things that a lot of people weren't expecting him to do, like the discipline. He got the discipline down pat and I think all of the players respect that. He is a guy that is really going to send the program back up. I think this year is the year that they are going to win some ball games and surprise a lot of folks.
What do you do to stay plugged into the program?
DM: I keep in contact with all of my academic advisors, like Ms. Ann Carr. I talk to her every once in a while. I see a lot of players when I go home. I stay on the website, so I can keep up with every sport. I am a die hard Bulldog fan. I have a lot of fond memories of Mississippi State and I will cheer for them for the rest of my life. I want to see everyone succeed.
Steve Robertson is a staff member of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.