Sixteen days from today eight members of the 2007 MSU signing class will call it a career at Mississippi State.
During their stint as Bulldogs they’ve seen their share of changes but starting safety Wade Bonner says he wouldn’t change a thing.
“Man, this program has grown a great deal, a great deal. Guys are now coming out and giving effort all day on the field and in the class room,” said the Mason, Tenn. native. “The boys that are graduating like me, Charles (Mitchell), (Chris) Relf, for us it has changed a whole lot and that’s what I keep telling these young guys. They just need to stay focused because they are in good hands.”
Bonner entered the program as a running back after being recruited by former MSU head coach Sylvester Croom. However, the offensive backfield wouldn’t be his ultimate home. Due to a logjam at running back and a need in the secondary, Bonner displayed his willingness to be a team player and make the move to the defensive backfield.
“I’ve learned a lot from offense and defense. I would never trade it because it has been fun playing offense and defense,” he said. “I just love playing the game. It just don’t even matter where.”
It was that ‘team’ attitude that helped Bonner battle through the 4-8 season of 2009 and the 5-7 season of 2010. It is also what helps him see the growth the Bulldogs have had in such a short period of time.
“Guys now understand the will to win,” Bonner said. “No matter what you are doing, I don’t care if it is in the class room, on the field, or in your social world, you’re going to have to win and be competitive at whatever you do.”
While the concept of winning first and being a champion may seem simple on the outside, from the inside, Bonner explains it is not important, it is crucial.
“You’ve got to win first," Bonner said. "When you get that taste of winning in your system …that’s all you want. First it starts off with winning and that’s really all I can say.”
Like most college athletes, Bonner has aspirations of taking his talents to the next level. After racking up 60 tackles his senior season, he will likely get a few looks this spring, but he’s not putting all his hopes on a professional career.
“I just want to get better every day, become a leader in life, and win this last game,” said Bonner. “I’m going to try football out again, try out the league. If that doesn’t happen, I pray to God that it does, but if that doesn’t happen, I’m going to try to help kids. I think that’s one of my passions, coaching these kids and helping them get out of tough situations.”
For now it is all about having a good time and enjoying the final 16 days of his college career.
“I’m trying to make it exciting. It is still exciting. It has been a long time but I’m making it fun and trying to help the young guys.”