Captain Pancake

When Mark Melichar's highlight video was put on line last year Bulldog fans were impressed, but they also had a question. Just who was the other offensive tackle bulldozing his way through the defensive line? His name was D.J. Looney.

The message boards were filled with questions about D.J.

"Is State in on him?"

"Do you think he's coming to State?"

"Are we going to offer?"

The answer to all three questions was the same. Yes, MSU was in on Looney and had begun recruiting him about as early as they could, State did offer and D.J. committed soon after receiving the offer from the Bulldog staff.

"The first time I ever went to State, I knew I wanted to go there and help Coach Croom turn the program into what it used to be," explained D.J. "I went to camps and other things and I wanted to be a Bulldog. Once I committed I told everyone why I was a Bulldog and why they should be one too. I still do."

Most of the prospects that have committed to play for the Maroon and White have at some point met or had the chance to speak with the gregarious lineman.

"I have talked with a lot of the guys," reported Looney. "I talk with Zach Smith, Sherrod, Addison, Saulsberry, Colton Jenkins and Lee Chambers a good bit. I told Lee that I was looking forward to blocking for him and that he was my running back."

"We are building some chemistry now as a group before we even get on the football field. We're going in to help turn this thing around, so the relationships we build now can only help us later. I enjoy talking to the other guys that are headed to State. I feel obligated to do my part to make sure we get the best players possible."

D.J. is part of a trio of Alabama high school players making the move over to Starkville. He has had the chance to get to see Zach Smith and Chris Relf develop over their high school careers.

"Zach and I became friends at the Alabama High School All-Star game," explained D.J. "We traded numbers and we have been talking ever since. We have really become close. I have a lot of respect for Zach and his abilities. He is a great player and I am glad he is coming with me to Starkville."

"When Zach got his offer he called me and told me about it. I told him then he needed to be a Bulldog and that he better be with me over there," chuckled Looney. "We have talked about it and if things work out he is probably going to be my roommate when we get to State."

"We have two of the best quarterbacks in the state of Alabama coming to State in Chris Relf and Zach Smith. Both of those guys are just amazing. Both can really move in and out of the pocket. They can make the throws and if things break down they can make plays on their own. They are also both great people. I have had the chance to get to meet their families, so I know what kind of people they are. Those guys are the kind of people we need in our program at Mississippi State."

D.J. had high hopes for his senior season, but Oak Mountain came up short of making the Alabama state playoffs. Senior night was a very bittersweet moment for the big man.

"We ended up winning big in our last game," said Looney. "We put over fifty points on the board. It was exciting, but at the same time it was sad to walk off that field for the last time. I get the chance to play at the next level, but for a lot of those guys that game was the last one. It's tough."

The brotherhood of a football team is difficult to put into words, but the Bulldog to be has a pretty good grasp on the topic.

"One of the toughest things about recruiting is knowing that you are not going to be playing with your teammates any more," explained D.J. "You know once high school is over you will never play with that group of guys ever again. Some of them won't get the chance to play at the next level, so you play even harder for them because you know this is probably the end for some of them. You hope to make everyone around you better and hope that some school sees their tape and gives them a chance to keep playing."

Leaving Alabama for an out of state SEC school has brought it's share of challenges for D.J. The big man has received his share of good natured and not so good natured ribbing. A good bit of that came to an end when Mississippi State upset Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

"It was really exciting to go to school after the Alabama game," exclaimed Looney. "I knew a big win was coming you could just see it was about to happen and it turns out it was Alabama. A lot of my friends told me afterwards that now they see why I want to go to State so bad. They can see what is about to happen there. I went to school with my MSU shirt and hat on that next Monday and got to hold my head up high and not have to walk around with my head down."

D.J. chose Mississippi State over written offers from Houston, Memphis and Southern Miss as well as a grey shirt offer from Alabama.

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