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By LEE ADAMS
The No. 20 Mississippi State Bulldogs open their season on the road, but for fifth year senior Wade Bonner it's a homecoming.
Bonner grew up about an hour outside of Memphis, Tenn., and attended Fayette Ware High School in Somerville.
While at Fayette Ware, Bonner was successful on both sides of the ball as he played running back, wide receiver and defensive back.
During his senior year, he made 63 tackles and had nine interceptions so when he got to MSU he was put on defense but he was happy wherever he ended up..Â
"In high school I always played multiple positions so I was ready to play whatever when I got here," said Bonner.Â
After redshirting his true freshman year, Bonner came out in the 2008 season on offense. During his 2008 campaign, Bonner played in every game and carried the ball seven times for 12 yards, but it was on special teams where he shined, returning six kickoffs for 106 yards.
When head coach Dan Mullen arrived, Bonner once again switch sides of the ball.
"When coach Mullen got here, I asked him what did he want me to play and he said safety," said Bonner. "I'm a team guy so whatever position the team needs me, I'm going to do."
Over the past two season under Mullen, Bonner has played in in all 23 games and has started four of those, most recent the 31-23 win over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl last season where he had four tackles. Also, Bonner recorded five tackles in the Bulldog's Gator Bowl win.
During his time at State, Bonner has played in 35 games which is helping him prepare for the upcoming season.
"I'm getting more comfortable playing and reading offenses," said Bonner.Â
The southwest Tennessee native will have friends and family there on Thursday night, but Bonner doesn't feel any extra pressure
"I know I'm going to have a lot of fans there, but I'm just going to go out there do what the coaches tell me to do and just play the game," said Bonner.
Bonner admits to being a Memphis fan growing up but thinks the feel of defeating his childhood team will "feel pretty good."
The safety is a member of the Bulldog's strong defensive back field with fellow safeties Charles Mitchell and Nickoe Whitley, but he will also be spending time on special teams.
"Special teams is a big key to winning the game," said Bonner. "I'm on most of the special teams this year and I think special teams is basically going to win the game."
Bonner is described by his teammates as a "hard worker" and his hard work over the last few years has caught the eye of one of team captains, Mitchell.
"Wade stepped up a lot last year and started some games at the end of the season," said Mitchell. "He's just like me. He's a leader, very energized, a playmaker and he's probably one of the toughest guys on the team."
State's goal is high in 2011 and Bonner and his teammates are grindin' for their fans.
"We're looking for a big season and we are doing it for the state of Mississippi," said Bonner. "We have the whole state on our backs so we trying to win it all. We know it's a big task but we are up to it."
Bonner's homecoming will kickoff at 7:10 p.m. Thursday night.