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Bulldogs in secondary show 'ball hawk' skills

August 15, 2012

Mississippi State defensive back Darius Slay celebrates after a play during last year's game against Ole Miss. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

Ball hawk is the term used in football circles as a player who has the propensity to find the football.
When looking at the Mississippi State secondary, several players fit that billing.

The Bulldogs have 29 career interceptions among the likely four starters in the back end of the MSU defense.

All-American and former East Webster player Johnthan Banks leads the way with 12 picks and is followed closely by Corey Broomfield with nine. This senior duo are proven leaders who have put the good of the team ahead of personal gain.

This season Broomfield will likely follow in the footsteps of Banks in the regard that he will line up at safety this season, something Banks did his sophomore season.

“It was pretty easy to make the move,” said Broomfield with his infectious smile. “You know coach Wilson is one of the best coaches in the nation and if they come to me with an idea, I’m going to trust them and believe it 100 percent. They wouldn’t put anyone in a bad position.”

In Mullen’s eyes, the secondary is full of playmakers and the job of the coaching staff is simple, get the best players on the field at all times. This move allows Broomfield to open a spot for Darius Slay to inject h is speed into the starting role as a cornerback.

The fourth member of the likely starting rotation is Nickoe Whitley, who has returned from a knee injury to be a dominate player in the secondary.

“They are young back there," Mullen said. "It helps with Nickoe back practicing after missing the spring. He brings some stability back there, then Corey is a very intelligent person. We’re not settled on him at safety just yet. There may be some more changes, but his knowledge gives us some flexibility.”

While the front line provides experience, the youth which provides the depth is making strides during fall camp.

“The young guys are really going to have to step into their own with Dee Arrington, Jay Hughes, Kendrick Market," Mullen said during his visit with the media on Tuesday. "Those guys have to step up and having a guy like Louis Watson as a fifth-year senior who is always going to do the right things and show the young guys how to do things." 

No one will question the athleticism and play-making ability of this group, but that’s not what makes this group special to the head coach. It is the willingness to do whatever it takes.

“Our guys want to win and they will do whatever is best for us to win,” Mullen said. “It doesn’t matter if it is Banks moving or Broomfield moving to play some safety. They don’t blink an eye. Whatever it takes to win.”

Mississippi State continues fall camp today. The Bulldogs eye their next live scrimmage coming up Saturday. 

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