Do you remember at the end of last year's game when you went to the ground and put your forehead down on the ground? Omarr Conner was a few yards from you doing the same thing.
"Oh yeah, that was terrible."
What were you thinking at that moment?
"It was so close and we went into the game kind of wounded on offense. And we knew it was going to be a struggle, but it was going good for us. And we were fighting so hard. We had put ourselves in a position to tie the game. We really thought it shouldn't have come down to that. I had played one of my best games. It was Ole Miss and I knew what was on the line - all the bragging rights. When I had to go back home and hear all the mouthing."
Do you use that type memory to help you going into this game?
"Yeah, it will be a lot of motivation. We lost that game last year and it was a heartbreaker for me. I don't want to go back home and hear all the people talking about Ole Miss and how good they were."
I can understand Omarr Conner feeling that way since he was a senior, but why did you feel that way considering you were just a freshman and it was your first Egg Bowl game? Why was it so important to you?
"It was just the feelings I got from the way my teammates and coaches talked about the game, how it was so intense and how everybody wanted to win. We talked about the seniors and how we wanted to send them out on a high. And I got all emotional and pumped up about that and I was ready to play."
So, you don't want a second group of seniors to go out the same way?
"No, I don't want that because I really play for my teammates. Everything I do, I do for my teammates because I love to see all of them happy after the game - everybody smiling and kidding around after the game. That is one of the best feelings in the world for me."
Considering this will be a very intense game, how will you be able to control the tempo of this game?
"All of us will be on a emotional high, but like Coach (Croom) has been telling us we have to play with poise. He wouldn't dare let us forget that. You have to talk to yourself in your head and make sure you stay calm. And just don't get into all the chit-chat out on the field, so you won't forget to do the little things right."
Coach Croom has extremely high expectations for you. In fact, he feels a 1,000 yard season is average for you. What does he see in you that makes him believe that?
"From what Coach Croom tells me, I have a lot of potential. I can do a lot of things. I feel like that, too. But, for whatever reason, this year I just didn't do as well as I hoped. I still think I did good. But I guess if he thinks a 1,000 yards is average for me, I guess I'm not doing as good as he wants me to do."
What do you think you are lacking?
"I guess when he and I talk about it after the year I can really get a good idea of what I'm lacking. I really don't know. I know I can get better at some things. There are a lot of plays when I do run I don't even look at the reads. I just run and make yards on my own. He tells me if I just ever learn how to read and follow the play sometimes, then I could have a whole bunch of yards. So, I think that is what I'm lacking. It's a mental block that I need to get past."
Did you not do reads in high school?
"Yeah, that's what it was like in high school. And it kind of worked for me when I first got here last year. Then, they started stacking the box by adding another man. That's when it really kicked in. Now, I have to go through my reads. I've been doing good the last couple of games. He told me if I had started the season off like I'm doing right now, I would be a lot better shape."
This is your last game. What is it like for you this week?
"I'm trying not to think about it because I don't want it to be a distraction for me. I'm just trying to go out and look at it as just another game. But now that you mentioned it, it really has gone by fast. It seemed like yesterday I was just a freshman. Now I'm a senior and a captain of the team. It's really amazing."
Based on your experiences here, what reasons would you give recruits to attend Mississippi State?
"Mississippi State is a school of opportunity. Coach (Croom) doesn't care if you are a freshman, senior, black, white, orange purple, short, tall, fat, skinny, the best ones are going to play. There are no politics here like my dad does this or my brother does this. The best are going to play. I'm a living witness to that."
Is that a key to Coach Croom's success?
"Yeah, that's one of the things he told me about being at Green Bay. He said when he was there, they might have signed a first-rounder, but if a free agent is better than the first-rounder, they are going to play the free agent no matter how much money they may have invested in him. That's how he thinks - the best is going to play."
You go against tackles Michael Brown and Derek Sherrod in practice every day. What are your thoughts about them?
"Of all the tackles that I've gone against each and every week, Mike Brown is probably the best tackle that I have ever faced. And I'm not saying that because he's my teammate. I'm saying that because I'm a football player and I know good players. He's so quick and strong. It's kind of hard to match up with a guy that is just as quick as you are and is bigger than you are. You have to work twice as hard and have to have a gameplan against a big guy like that.
"Derek Sherrod is young, but he's a guy that Coach Grimes is going to make into a first-rounder because he's very disciplined and listens to everything that he says to him. He's a technician and he's willing to learn and put it on the line. I think that one day Derek Sherrod is going to be a great tackle."
How do you personally help a young guy like Sherrod?
"What you try to do with a guy like Sherrod, you try to beat him up early, so he can get used to the pounding that he will see in the SEC. And he does well on Saturday when the coach puts him into the game."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.