"It is hard to tell before they have started hitting. They both have good movement. They both have quickness. They both have the athleticism that you want in defensive linemen. But you have to wait to see what they do when they put on the pads. If they have the same temperament as they have athleticism, then they will be alright."
Talk a little more in detail about each of them.
"I like Otis. He needs to be a little smaller, but I like his athleticism and the way he moves. He has great quickness. If he has the stamina when we put on the pads and is as deep-rooted mentally and physically as he is quick, then he might be ready to play."
What position will Otis play?
"He will play at tackle."
What about Markell?
"Markell has great quickness and has great lateral movement. He can run. Hopefully, he is mature enough to play this year. He has the right weight. He has the right strength. He has all the tools. You just hope that he is deep-rooted enough to play football for us."
Are there any other young defensive linemen that you have had at State you can compare them to?
"It is hard for me to say right now because I haven't seen them play yet. I want to see them play. However, they are as athletic as any that have ever come in. Athletically, they are as good as the other guys that I have had in the past. Otis needs to trim down a little bit. Athletically, in terms of movement and quickness, he has what it takes."
Talk about the players you have coming back. What I mean by that is how they have improved since last season and the spring.
"I'm hoping Tommy (Kelly) will play up to his potential, because he is a gifted athlete. Tommy plays right defensive tackle. I'm hoping that Ronald Fields, a noseguard and left defensive tackle, has grown in maturity as a sophomore and he picks up where he ended up last year. He had a really good spring before he injured his ankle. From the season until the spring, Ronald has made a great jump. I'm hoping he makes that same kind of jump from the spring to this season. Michael Oyefesobi is very athletic and a very big body who I would like to see play with more confidence. He has all the tools and ability to help us. You also have Lennie Day who has played for us. He has the athletic ability to play. We just hope he has matured into a player. Then you have Kahlil Nash who was a good player for us last season. We just hope he maintains his level and ups it some and puts him into position to be the player and leader you want him to be. We hope Jadice Moore comes in with a little bit more stamina and has dropped the weight where he needs it to be."
Some of your guys played D-I ball for the first time last season. Now that they have a full season under their belt, do you expect them to be better as a unit this season.
"No question about it. I would be really disappointed if they weren't. When you come in and have never played in this league and are thrust right into playing, you may have some deficiencies. Now, they have been through a full season and a spring. I am expecting those guys to step up and be better ball players than they were last year. I am expecting a lot from them."
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.