Hard Work Earns You Playing Time

Redshirting his true freshman season, noseguard Devin Jones was told throughout the year that if he played hard and gave good effort he would get into ballgames during the 2009 season.

"They told me give effort, go hard and you get to play, so that is what I did," said Devin Jones. "I set my mind to it and I got my chance to play. And I'm happy to get the opportunities."

And he's made the most of those opportunities by recording four tackles, including a tackle for a loss. While he would like to have made more tackles than that, his main job is controlling his section of the line of scrimmage.

"My job is to make sure I stay in my gap," said Devin. "And if somebody tries to block me down I just make sure that I maintain my spot and work towards the gap that has been collapsed."

As far as blocking him down, you might think that wouldn't be that difficult considering he's just 260 pounds. But Devin, a two-time high school power-lifting champion, not only uses his strength to his advantage but works hard perfecting his technique and footwork.

"I try to make sure I have less mental mistakes and do good technique," said Devin. "I spend extra time working on my footwork and anything else that needs to be corrected."

And the mental part of it also factors into his chance to be successful against guys 40 to 60 pounds heavier than him.

"I set my mindset so that I can't be defeated," said Devin. "If you stay in your gap and stay low you can do anything."

He had time to develop that mindset and work on his technique last season while sitting out as a redshirt.

"(Redshirting) helped me out," said Devin, who played his high school ball for coach Chris Purnell of Desoto Central High School in Olive Branch, Mississippi. "First of all I came in and I learned what (defensive line) Coach (David) Turner wanted me to do. After that, during the offseason I corrected the mistakes that I made last year so that I didn't have any mental errors. I worked on my footwork, my speed, my weight, really everything else so that I would be ready to go this season."

And that hard work has earned him playing time in all four games this season.

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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