Broomfield Prepping For Home-State Foe

He isn't the only Florida native on the Bulldog roster; Corey Broomfield has seven compatriots from the Sunshine State currently playing for Mississippi State. But the redshirt freshman cornerback has maybe the most special interest in this weekend's festivities at Scott Field. "Personally, it's real big for me," said Broomfield about matching up with the Gators.

See, Corey's father Allen does lawn services in their home city of Palm Bay on the Atlantic coast. "Growing up in Brevard County, a lot of people he cut lawns for were alumni of Florida," Corey explains. "So I grew up a Florida fan, and a lot of times when the alumni couldn't go to games they'd give my Dad tickets and we'd go."

Go, and cheer, and think of the day he'd be lining up in the Florida defensive backfield. Broomfield grew into a fine enough prospect at Bayside High to attract college interest, with all-state honors and a strong showing at the Miami combine as a junior where he ran 4.5 and jumped 34 inches. But size, or lack of it, likely kept his favorite program from making an offer in 2007. Fortunately for both Broomfield and Mississippi State there was an obvious need for cover-corners and the previous State staff got his signature.

Now, by happy irony, Broomfield is playing for one of the then-Florida staffers that passed on him. And this past Saturday, Coach Dan Mullen gave Broomfield his first college starting assignment to keep Middle Tennessee from, well, passing the way prior Dog opponents had done. Not only did the revamped secondary hold the Blue Raiders under 50% passing, they picked off four passes.

And Broomfield got the first two of those, both in the fourth quarter as he robbed MT quarterback Dwight Dasher on State's side of the field. "Coach felt he could trust me, so I did my job," said Broomfield, who broke up another throw and had five tackles including one behind the line of scrimmage. Talk about a dramatic debut…make that starting debut, because back in the season-opener the redshirt rookie celebrated his first college action, in late-game relief, by picking a Jackson State pass and running it back 43 yards for a touchdown.

Fittingly, the other pair of intercepts at Middle Tennessee came from true rookie and safety Johnathan Banks. This frosh just moved into the lineup a week ago himself, as part of a ‘youth movement' to shore up a shaky State secondary. That includes junior transfer Maurice Langston getting his own first start as the left cornerback in place of soph Damein Anderson. Banks is filling in for a junior, Zach Smith, who after five starts at free safety is sidelined by concussion.

Still the point holds that coordinator Carl Torbush is giving greater responsibilities to his younger defensive backs. Broomfield, Banks, figure it's time they had their chance(s). "We all felt we could have played our freshman year, we should have been starting at the end of the year and all that!" he said, showing the confidence inherent in any competitive defensive back. " So it's nothing big for us to be successful when we get out there, we just felt we needed a chance to show ourselves."

That's mighty tall talk. But these kids aren't content with showing their stuff the first time, they have greater goals in mind. Like, forming a unit that can compete for years to come.

"We think about that every day," Broomfield said. "We walk through the hall and we've got all the All-Americans in there; Ashley Cooper, Fred Smoot, Walt Harris. We talk about how one day that'll be us up there, we just have to keep working hard and stuff." And he does mean the ‘us' part as these kids keep maturing on the job. For all the individual egos involved it's still a team theme.

"Oh, it's been like that since two-a-days. We love each other because we're all young, so we ask each other questions, we try to stick up for each other, and just try to play for each other." Just for the record, though, the elder State-sman of the bunch, lone senior Marcus Washington, is allowed inclusion. "That's old Grandpa, that's what we call him!" grinned Broomfield, who actually took Washington's right cornerback slot at Middle Tennessee so Pops could switch to an extra safety in the starting five-man d.b. package. "But he can play, no doubt. He's real proud of us and giving him a chance to play the nickel position. He says keep doing the job."

Make that, do a better job this week because for all Middle Tennessee's talents at quarterback the Gators bring an entirely different level of challenge. "They need to have another great week of practice," said Mullen as State's entire defense preps for the marvelous Tim Tebow's visit to Starkville. Broomfield, who once hoped to play on the same team as Tebow, now has to face the Gator great from the opposing side. He said the secondary will do its best to disguise and confuse coverages, and then when Tebow inevitably bulls downfield try to put him down.

"That's all you can do," said the 170-pound corner of the prospect of hitting a 240-pound quarterback. "But I watched LSU and their cornerback got a few good hits on him, so I'm going to try to do the same." To that end Broomfield & Co. have taken some shots at QB Chris Relf in initial game-week work. "And he's a pretty big load!" Broomfield said.

Still the weight this young Dog will carry are from expectations of a good show in this personally-special contest. And hey, now it's Corey providing pop with the tickets! "So it's real big for me to show up for all the people back home and they get a chance to see me play. And I get to play against the team I grew up wanting to play for. So I get to prove Urban (Meyer) and everybody was wrong about me!"

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