It Goes Beyond Just Protecting The House

If you are out early in the morning and just happen to be going by the Mississippi State football stadium there is a chance you may see a group of MSU football players inside the stadium running the steps of the stadium - all of the steps. Your normal human being might look at what those players are doing and think that's not humanly possible. But these players aren't your normal human beings.

Mississippi State head strength coach Matt Balis is called the best strength coach in America by Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen. Part of the reason for that opinion is his obvious knowledge of the strength and conditioning field. But very likely the real reason behind that quote is the fact that he knows people and, more importantly, what people can achieve when you give them the correct motivation.

An example of that is the aforementioned running the stadium steps. He doesn't simply tell them to run them, but gives the act of running the steps an actual name that is literally close to home - Protect The House.

And that attitude has taken root with the players, even in the first-year guys.

"I look at it as if I'm protecting my own house," said freshman wide receiver Chad Bumphis. "And you have to protect your house."

Even when the sweat is dripping off every part of their bodies and their legs feel like they can't move that next step, they find a way to keep going.

"It's really tough, tougher than anything I have ever done before, but you have to do it," said Bumphis.

One Bulldog player doesn't find it that tough, though - junior safety Charles Mitchell.

"Charles Mitchell is an animal," said Bumphis. "He's got so much energy and he doesn't ever get tired. He can go forever."

Mitchell laughs at the comments about him being an animal and simply states that running the steps is, "something that I enjoy doing."

He enjoys it so much that once he's through he heads back up the steps to help others still running them.

"When I get through I get my wind, get a drink of water, then run back up and help the other guys who are still running," said Mitchell. "I give them encouragement while running with them."

While it's something he enjoys doing and it comes easier for him than it does the others, Mitchell does understand the importance of his accomplishment and carries it into his everyday like, including his academics.

"It has helped me become a better student because I know if I can run all those steps I know I can do anything no matter what it is," said Mitchell.

Bumphis agrees.

"Being able to run all the stadium steps carries over to everything else in your life," said Bumphis. "You know if you can run all of them, then you know you can do anything else in your life."

But for right now, maybe, just maybe, running those steps (three complete times in one workout compared to two complete times last year), will be the difference between going to a bowl game or not going to a bowl game.

"We were so close last year and could have easily gone to a bowl game," said junior offensive lineman Quentin Saulsberry. "We were just six inches away in the LSU game. We just have to work harder and, hopefully, that will be the difference this year."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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