"I'm still at middle linebacker. During the spring, I played a little bit of middle and defensive end."
What were you trying to accomplish during the spring?
"Individually, I was hoping to get on the depth chart anywhere. But I also wanted to get my game down on punt teams and try to get on the kickoff team and the kick return team. I, basically, wanted to get the concept of the positions down."
Do you feel you did that?
"Yeah, I think I pretty much got a spot on kickoff, punt and kick return teams."
Where will you be playing on each of them?
"On the punt team, I'm playing right guard. On the kickoff team, I'm playing the wedgebuster in the middle and on the kick return team I'm playing on the front line at the far left tackle."
I'm not that well-versed in the different special teams. In other words, I'm not really sure how they determine who will play where. What qualities do you have that made them decide you were the best fit for each position?
"I think, because of my size, they didn't really want to put me in the middle. They probably thought I was too small, but since I have made plays, coach Tompkins felt that I deserved the opportunity to play on punt team. On the kick return team, I guess my ability to block caused them to put me there."
What does it take for somebody to be a good special teams player? Does it take someone who is almost a daredevil type, somebody who is willing to fly down and do what it takes to make the tackle of block?
"Yeah, pretty much that. And real good footwork is very important on the punt team. You have to be good at not getting block."
At State, has it become almost like a badge of honor to be on the kickoff team because of the Dog Pound Rock?
"Oh yeah. I think so. I guess because this is my fifth year, I have always wanted to be on that team. To me, it is an honor to be on it."
Have you been practicing the Dog Pound Rock at home (laugh)?
"(Laugh) Nah, nah, nah, not really."
What have you tried to accomplish during the summer? Is there anything different about this summer since the upcoming season will be your last?
"Basically, I know during the fall I'm going to have more responsibility since I have made all three special teams. The main thing I want to do during this summer is to get in great shape and get my footwork down a little bit better."
What are you hoping for the team going into this season?
"I'm hoping that we go to Oregon and show the nation that we still have a good program here. I also hope that everybody is healthy come November. That is the big month for us because we play five games in that month."
Individually, what do you hope to accomplish this coming season?
"I just hope that I can stay healthy the entire season. That is my number one goal. Basically, I just want to do my job every game. I would also like to score a touchdown because I have never scored a touchdown in a game, high school or college."
Since you are going to be a senior this year, are you going to graduate this coming year?
"I am going to graduate in August, this August. As a matter of fact, I'm in my last class now."
What are you majoring in?
"I'm majoring in Industrial Technology."
Have you taken advantage of the summer sessions to get ahead academically?
"Yeah, I have. My first two years, my freshman and sophomore years, I went to a junior college back home so it wouldn't be as expensive since I walkon. Last summer and this summer have been my first two summers to go to summer school down here."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.