"I wish someone could write down all of my family starting with my dad's oldest brother and all of the things they have done," said Zimmerman. "Everyone in my family went to Grambling, most of them played football.
"They gave me a hard time during my first two years because we weren't winning. They didn't understand why I didn't go to Grambling. That was the hardest thing I have done."
The rough seasons may have been the hardest on Dale Zimmerman, Derrick's father.
"My parents always supported me. They came to watch me, but it was hard on them because I was struggling," said MSU's senior point guard. "But the first people I saw in Atlanta after we beat Alabama were my parents. My dad was crying."
The Bulldog turnaround over the past three seasons could be credited to the highly talented and explosive Zimmerman. Once Zimmerman found his game, he was able to become the leader of the Bulldogs.
"My first year, I didn't understand why some of the seniors didn't step up and act like leaders. I was also trying to go out and score like I did in high school," said Zimmerman. "But, once I grew up some and figured out I had to play my game, I felt a lot more comfortable.
"I also put it on myself to be a vocal leader on this team. If I have to get in someone's face, get the crowd into the game or stop coach (Stansbury) from getting a technical, that is what I am going to do."
Zimmerman posted great numbers for a point guard last season with 9.2 points, six assists, four rebounds and 32 minutes a game. The last number might be the most telling of Zimmerman's importance to the Bulldogs. Mario Austin was the closest in minutes at 30 per game.
Even with the season that he put together last season, Zimmerman hasn't stopped putting the pressure on himself.
"I want Timmy (Bowers) and me to be the best backcourt in the nation. We work well together. We are just like brothers," said Zimmerman. "We have been working together helping each other with our weak areas. I help him with being physical and going to the goal, and he stays on me about my shooting. We really push each other."
Half of the MSU backcourt is starting to get noticed. Lindy's has Derrick Zimmerman rated as the No. 10 point guard in the nation as well as the top playmaker in the SEC. And Basketball News has Zimmerman picked as a preseason first-team all-SEC.
In other areas, Zimmerman has felt slighted on the notice he received. Admittedly, as most college age males do, Zimmerman loves playing video games, and he dreams of what could be in the future.
"My freshman year we were sitting around playing the college basketball game and I was MSU. I kept looking for me, and I couldn't find me. Then I found No. 22, and I hollered, 'I am white on this game,' and I just started laughing," said Zimmerman through a laugh. "This year, they have gotten me almost right. I think that they got my jumping ability right on. But I can't wait until a few years down the road when I am sitting there playing the games and I can see my name on the game on an NBA team. That will be great."
If that ever happens, maybe Zimmerman can set up his dream one-on-one game on the video game.
"I try to be modest about my abilities and all, but people keep coming to me and telling me how good my defense is," said Zimmerman. "If I could play anybody, I would want to play myself. I think that would be a good game."
With all of the success that the Bulldogs achieved last season, Zimmerman predicts another great season.
"A lot of people think we are crazy, but we are talking about a national champion team," said Zimmerman. "With Mario and Timmy coming back, and all the other guys, we will be great. We felt that if we had gotten passed Texas last year that we had a shot to go a long way. This year, we expect to open a lot of eyes."
Grant Alford is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. He is a student at Mississippi State University. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.