"It's Our Time to Shine"

One of the most highly recruited linemen in high school his senior season, Mississippi State junior offensive lineman Michael Brown, who transferred from Florida to MSU last fall, thinks this year will be the year MSU shines in the SEC.

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After receiving numerous offers from most of the SEC and ACC and even a few from the Big Ten, Michael chose the Florida Gators. But a personal family matter put an end to his stay at Florida.

"My mom got sick so I decided to go home and help her out," said Michael, who was ranked as the 40th best prospect in the southeast his senior season in high school.

Once his mother had surgery, he was ready to head back to college, but concerns about her caused him to look for a college a little closer to home.

"After she went through surgery she got better, so we both decided it was time for me to go back to college, but I wanted to be closer to home for her," said Michael. "Florida was a little too far, so I decided to come to Mississippi State."

Being closer to his home was one factor, but there was another factor as well.

"The main reason was (MSU head) Coach (Sylvester) Croom. When I came down for a visit with them, he and I really connected," said Michael, who transferred to MSU during the fall of 2006. "He is a fair but firm coach. That was the main reason I knew this was a program that I wanted to come to."

Normally, when a player transfers from one D-I school to another one he has to sit out for a year. But due to the illness of his mother, an exemption was filed for that would allow Michael to play in 2006. But it took a little more time than Michael expected. And that waiting was tough on the youngster.

"When I first got down here it was hard on me because I knew I was physically capable of helping the team out, but I didn't know when I would be able to help them team due to the NCAA rules," noted Michael, MSU's starting left tackle.

But his teammates helped him through the ordeal.

"While it was a hard time on me, I built relationships with a lot of players and that helped me out a lot," said the 6-5, 300-pounder. "Then, once the NCAA granted me the six games it was all downhill from there."

And the MSU coaches put him into the fire immediately. But, thanks to two MSU coaches he was prepared.

"I think I was physically prepared because (MSU offensive line) Coach (J.B.) Grimes and (graduate assistant coach) Jody (Wright) worked with me a lot," said Michael.

While that hard work helped him physically, the talent that made him so highly recruited was always there.

"I think the edge I have for playing offensive line is due to me having played defensive line since I was young," said Michael, who graded over 84% in three of his five starts last season. "That taught me to be quick with my feet. Then, when I moved to the offensive line that helped me a whole lot.

"Football is about how quick your feet are. The one with the best feet has a good chance to win. And I really feel like there is not a defensive lineman that is quicker than me."

Despite that quickness and confidence, Michael understands that you can never be good enough. And he has been working on one area of his game in particular.

"This year I have been working on my run-blocking a lot," said Michael, already an outstanding pass-blocker. "I could tell during the spring that I have progressed in that area a lot from the fall. And this summer I've been working even harder. I've been trying to get stronger in the weight room because that's the most important thing for me. Hopefully, that will show up during this coming season."

Although Michael sees improvement in himself, he realizes it's not about the individual but about the entire unit when you play on the offensive line.

"On the offensive line, it's not about individuals, but about being one," noted Michael. "Due to that, we've all been trying to do things as one. During the summer we go out and eat together and do other things as one. If we come together as one, we have a better chance of winning. That's something that Coach Grimes teaches a lot."

And it's not just the offensive line that has him excited, but what he sees from the team as a whole.

"This year, I think we have more horses. And we have more depth at almost every position," said Michael. "We will bring a lot more to the table this year.

"Everybody is fired up about it. It's our time to shine. We just want to show the world that Mississippi State can compete in the SEC."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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