The Transition Is Almost Complete

After being the starting quarterback for Hazlehurst High School in Hazlehurst, Mississippi during his prep career, Damein Anderson was quickly moved to cornerback his freshman season at Mississippi State, a position he played sparingly in high school but is most suited for talent-wise. Now, going into his third year at that position, Damein feels the transition is just about complete.

"I have improved a whole lot," said Damein Anderson. "From the transition from quarterback to cornerback I have learned a whole lot. And with the playing experience that I got last year now I feel more comfortable about my technique and I feel like I can do even better this year."

He's also much bigger, stronger and faster since he first got to Mississippi State as a true freshman.

"I was 160 when I first got here and I'm now 190 with 4% body fat," said Damein, who packs the 190 pounds on a 5-foot-11 frame. "I ran a 4.51 (forty yard dash) when I got here and I run a 4.47 now. I also had one of the top two shuttle times on the football team."

With the playing experience, added weight, strength and speed, all that was lacking was feeling comfortable at the cornerback position.

"Last year, when I got my reps in the games, I felt comfortable with the position," said Damein, who played in 11 of 12 games last season while recording 6 tackles. "When I get used to the SEC game play and practice on my technique all the time I should be a good corner."

Damein, now that he's a starter, plans on taking on one more duty.

"I've got to be a leader from the start," said Damein. "Being a leader is something new for me this year because the past couple of years I have had folks older than me in front of me. But since I am a starter and have more experience I have the chance to be a leader and teach the younger corners what to do."

Mississippi State cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith, who has coached several cornerbacks on the collegiate level who have gone on to star in the National Football League, has said if he had Damein's talent, he could have played in the NFL 20 years. That's not too far off either when you consider who he has told Damein he compares to size-wise and talent-wise.

"He said I remind him of Walt Harris a lot," said Damein, referring to former Mississippi State defensive back Walt Harris who is a 14-year veteran of the NFL. "He says that Walt Harris and me are the same size, same type person and I play like him a little bit. My body type is bigger than most corners than he has seen, I have strength, and my athletic ability allows me to find the ball in the air and run with certain receivers."

But despite that comparison, like all defensive backs, playing good technique is still a significant requirement if you want to be consistently good.

"I get beat when I play bad technique," said Damein. "When I get caught playing bad technique that's when I get exposed. We have a lot of good receivers and if you play bad technique they are going to get open on you regardless."

Those good receivers are part of the reason Damein believes the offense, which was last in the SEC in points scored in 2008 with 15.2 per game, will be much improved this season.

"There is a lot of improvement in the offense," said Damein. "The offensive line is blocking better. The quarterbacks and receivers seem like they are on the right page. The running backs seem like they are running more downhill. It just seems like everything is falling in place with the new offense."

With an improved offense, Damein also believes the team, overall, will be much better, possibly good enough to continue playing at the conclusion of the regular season.

"My expectations for this team is really to go to a bowl game this year," said Damein. "The talent level is much better. We have a lot of young talent on the team that want to win and we have a bunch of seniors that want to be a winner. And everybody is closer and everybody is more confident going into this season.

"The work we did in the spring and the offseason, basically, we can't imagine anybody else doing that. And that really have brought us together as a family and we can depend on a lot of our teammates."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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