Demario Bobo is Coming Back Home.

Demario Bobo

No, the former South Panola High School standout isn't moving back to Batesville. But he is changing positions in the Mississippi State secondary. As a true freshman three falls ago, Bobo had an immediate impact at cornerback, earning three starts and a spot on the All-SEC Freshmen squad.

However, last season due to depth concerns, Bobo made the switch to safety and ranked seventh on the team with 38 tackles.

And despite recovering from a partial ACL tear in his knee, Bobo remained at safety during the spring drills.

As preseason practice nears, Bobo is back at cornerback.

Again.

"I think the move is good and I am very excited about going back to cornerback," said Bobo. "You know, I came here to play cornerback and I did that as a true freshman. But last year I had to move to safety and it was a move that was better for the team. I did that, playing safety, for the good of the team and that's where I was needed. But now I feel as though I am back home, back at my normal position. It's been nothing but a smooth transition."

However, playing safety did have its rewards for Bobo. It taught him a different aspect of the secondary and wasn't just about covering his guy.

"Playing safety last year helped me a lot, though, when you really look at the big scheme of things," said Bobo. "It helped me how to learn to hit people hard and come up and made the big tackle while still being able to cover fast guys. Now I am ready to go with fresh legs and ready to get back to cornerback.

"I learned how to be more physical last year and I will carry that over to this year, just at a different position in the secondary. At safety, you get to see the whole field and see what is going on at every spot on the field."

Now it's just a matter of taking the best of both positions and wrapping them into one package, according to Bobo.

"Now I have to combine with what I learned last year at safety and take all that knowledge to cornerback," said Bobo. "I look at it as a building process, combining what I learned at safety and adding it to what I already know at cornerback."

As noted earlier, Bobo's injured knee kept him out of a lot of contact drills during spring practice. And yes, Bobo has already encountered enough injuries for a career. But it isn't stopping him, physically or mentally.

"It's been difficult for me," admitted Bobo. "But it has also toughened me up. The injuries just show me that you have to keep working hard and in the end, if you work hard enough, then things will pay off for you. Injuries are part of the game and you can't let them keep you down. You have to get right back at it and keep on going and working."

Bobo has also been working hard in the class room. His major is business finances and if the NFL isn't in his future, he's already talking about opening up his own business.

"I should get my degree in about two years," said Bobo. "I want to open my own trucking business. I may have it in Batesville but I will probably move once I am out of college and start my business somewhere else."

Back to football, Bobo and his secondary mates have heard and seen the lowly predictions surrounding State's defensive backfield in 2006.

They've been told that the Bulldog secondary has been ranked near the bottom or at the bottom among SEC squads.

"That's okay," said Bobo about preseason predictions concerning State's secondary. "All of the guys here have been proving themselves since the day they were born. When people think our secondary will be bad and say things and predictions like that, it only makes you work harder to prove them wrong.

"When guys hear that stuff and see that stuff, it really serves as motivation. And trust me, we hope people do take our secondary lightly."

Now that guys like Bobo, David Heard and Jeramie Johnson are upperclassmen, they have some much-needed help and depth compared to the past couple of gridiron seasons.

Underclassmen like Derek Pegues and Keith Fitzhugh have been through the SEC wars and are battle-tested and anticipating break-through seasons.

Bobo also likes the increase in speed in the secondary and that aspect combined with a two-deep roster has Bobo expecting big things from State's secondary in the fall.

"We have more speed back there since I've been playing," said Bobo. "And we are pretty much two-deep everywhere in the secondary and guys that can play a couple of positions. When I first got to Mississippi State, we didn't have any two-position guys and it was hard.

"But now our depth is tremendous. If somebody does go down with an injury, we know that somebody else will just step up for the time being."

And Bobo acknowledges the secondary isn't the only defensive group fortunate to have plenty of bodies to go around. He brags on the big boys in the trenches, and likes the versatility of the Bulldog linebackers.

All in all, Bobo sees no reason why the defense won't improve from last year's solid showing.

"To be completely honest with you, I expect our defense to rank in the Top 10 in the nation," said Bobo. "We were 27th in the nation last year and we have almost everybody back. Our guys up front are all juniors and seniors and it doesn't get much better than that. People and fans in the fall will see how much better this defense can be. Now it's just a matter of improving every day and taking it to the field and the games."

Except this year, he will be lining up at cornerback instead of safety, which is 'a perfect situation' for Bobo.


Paul Jones is a writer for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at pjones@cdispatch.com.

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