A Season of Learning

You hear and read about it all the time - freshmen come in, redshirt that first season and then talk about how the redshirt year helped them football-wise. But freshman quarterback Chris Relf is a little different than your typical freshman.

Oh, he was typical in many ways to any other redshirt freshman during his one season of adjustment.

"Redshirting was like a learning experience for me," said Chris Relf, who knew coming into the season that he was going to redshirt. "Basically, it was the plays that I had to learn. That was the most basic thing."

And he feels he is very close to knowing the plays.

"Percentage-wise, I'm at about 85% because it's coming natural to me now," said Chris. "At the beginning of the season, it was hard for me because there was more thinking about it."

But then thinking may not be such a hard thing for this youngster after all, because his ability to learn is what appears to set him apart from your typical freshman.

"I had a 4.0 (grade point average) in the classroom," Chris said with a smile on his face.

And it wasn't a case where he had the bare minimum of 12 hours of classes.

"I had six classes, so I had to work hard," said Chris. "I knew I wasn't going to play on the football field this season, so I told myself that I was going to get my lessons and try to make good grades."

And when you consider that he had several early morning workouts with the MSU head strength coach throughout the week, then afternoon practice sessions of more than two hours four days a week, the academic achievement appears to be even more remarkable.

While it was obviously very self-gratifying to achieve perfection in the classroom - as it would be for any student - it was even more gratifying to be able to tell his mom of his academic accomplishment.

"I showed her my grades online. It felt good when she saw them," said Chris. "She knew I had it in me. I told her I was doing good in my classes, and she told me to keep doing good and keep praying to God. And that's basically what I did."

While his accomplishments on and off the field were highlights of the year, there has been one off-the-field accomplishment that he could have done without.

"I weigh 245 pounds," said Chris, who packs the weight on a 6-4 frame. "I gained the weight from eating in the cafeteria. I'm trying to lose because the coaches want me down to 235."

With spring practice currently underway, I suspect those ten pounds will come off relatively easy. Then, he can talk about how perfect his first year as a student-athlete at Mississippi State really was.

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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