[Premium Article] Mississippi State football players Mario Haggan, Josh Morgan and Willie Evans talk to the media."> [Premium Article] Mississippi State football players Mario Haggan, Josh Morgan and Willie Evans talk to the media.">

November 19 Press Conference

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01players/football/2003/morganj.jpg" align="left" width="122" height="160"> [Premium Article] Mississippi State football players Mario Haggan, Josh Morgan and Willie Evans talk to the media.

Josh Morgan

Talk a little about your future as far as pro ball is concerned.
"I don't really know what to expect. I'm just going to enjoy it. I'm really going to enjoy these last couple of weeks that I'm going to be around these guys. I'm going to miss it."

Have you graduated?
"I'll graduate in May. I'm majoring in Business Administration. I really don't know if I want to coach or do something else."

What are some of the things you learned on the football field that you can carry over to life?
"The stuff you don't expect. You spend so much time out here and work so hard. You keep fighting and keep getting back up. It has to help you in life. I've learned to respect my teammates and my coaches because they go through a lot of stuff."

Talk about having your younger brother Brett being here with you.
"I love having here with me. I tell him he needs to make his mark anytime he can. He works hard and is full of speed, 90 to nothing. Some times I have to tell him we are in practice and don't want to get anybody hurt and he is kind of like a bull in the china shop."


Mario Haggan

How is your ankle feeling?
"We are working hard to get my ankle back in shape so that I can play Saturday. I'm praying that it will be better. It is better. It is probably not as bad as everybody thinks it is. I won't even think about it and go out there and have a great game."

How did the injury happen?
"It was a pile up situation. I went in on a blitz and me and a couple of Tennessee linemen were wrestling and one of our guys knocked the running back backwards and there was a pile up on the play. I just got caught in the pile."

Talk about Arkansas.
"I expect a running football game. They have 3 or 4 great running backs. Their quarterback makes a lot of plays for them. He is probably the heart of their team. We expect a great day on defense. We know we will have to play hard. We expect the offense to put up points. I honestly think we can beat Arkansas this weekend. These guys have spoiled two of my chances to play in Atlanta when my season was going great. They came in and beat us when we were one of the top teams in the nation and spoiled my chances to play in the (SEC Championship Game). It is about time I do the same for them."

What was it about Tennessee? There seemed to be a lot of tempers flaring in that game.
"I think that Tennessee came in here thinking that they should have gotten more respect from us than they did. We've had a bad season but these guys came in with an arrogant attitude, thinking they were Tennessee and thinking they were God's greatest team on earth. They were probably one of the worst teams that we have played this year. They did a lot of holding. But they won the game. I'm sure if they see this they'll say we won, but it wasn't a fair situation. They had some great athletes, some respectful players but some of them weren't the type players you want to play with."

They got away with a lot of holding against you, didn't they?
"Yeah, they got away with a lot of them, but some plays I just didn't make and some plays they were the cause of me not making them. There were a lot of different things that went wrong in that ballgame but Tennessee wasn't one of the better teams we played this year."

Talk about the true freshman class.
"We have a very talented class. These guys came in here with the mindset on working and playing and it paid off for them. A lot of them have gotten on the field. When they have gotten on the field, they have helped us and made plays for us. The record doesn't show the hard work some of the guys are putting in."

What do you think about the freshmen offensive linemen James Redmond and James Cochran?
"Cochran, I'm pretty much impressed with him. Both of them have a lot of work to do, but Cochran is the one I'm most impressed with. He is a big guy, he is physical, he can move a little. He just has to be taught how to play this game. You can have all the talent in the world but if you don't have the desire and know how to play it, there is no need for the talent."

Talk a little about Josh Morgan.
"I've played with him for five years and we played in the all-star game together. This guy has put in incredible work here and he walked on and earned a scholarship. He hasn't looked back since. He has made a lot of great plays for Mississippi State. He is the only guy on defense I can say was here from the day I stepped on campus til the day I leave. I'm proud to have played with him and hopefully things will be bright for us both in the future. He is a great story here at Mississippi State."

Talk about your future.
"The Lord willing, hopefully, I will be able to go to combines and be able to try for an NFL team. If not, I've worked hard and earned my degree. I'm proud and blessed with things that have gone on with my life. Hopefully things will continue to get better for me."

I know you are optimistic that you will play this weekend, but just in case you can't are you giving Marvin Byrdsong pointers?
"I love Byrdsong. He is one of the best. He and Darren Williams, Jerious Norwood and Nick Turner are some of the best that we have on the team, not to leave guys out, but these guys have special talent. If Marvin takes it upon himself to work hard and lift weight right off the field, he can be the next great linebacker in a great line of linebackers. He has tremendous athletic ability, he can run and he is a big guy. When he came in the game Saturday, he was in for about 8 plays and was in on about 4 or 5 tackles. He actually got cut, went down and got up and made a touchdown saving tackle on one of the running backs."


Willie Evans

How did you do against Tennessee?
"I think I played good enough to win. I'm so small I have to do a little more than the big guys."

Are you going to try and get up to about 280?
"Yeah, I do really need to gain about 15 more pounds. If I do, then I can play the inside better so that they won't run directly at us."

Did you have any problems against their offensive line because they were so much bigger than you?
"Yeah, I had a couple of double teams on me. That was what really hurt me. That is why I need to gain about 10 or 15 more pounds."

Are you expected to start this weekend?
"Right now I'm supposed to."

Does it kind of surprise you that you are starting as a true freshman?
"Yeah, it is like a true to me. I've always wanted to play on tv and always wanting to be a starter. I never thought I would my freshman year. I'm trying to do good so that I can keep starting."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at swindoll@genespage.com


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