Bulldog Bio: Montez Sweat

Montez Sweat
Staff Writer

Look out Southeastern Conference quarterbacks. Montez Sweat is coming.

Sweat, a Mississippi State defensive end, is back for one more year in maroon and white in 2018. That’s fantastic news for the Bulldogs. Not so much for everyone else.

“Expectations are very, very high for him,” Mississippi State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said of Sweat this past spring.

Sweat could have left following last season. There’s a good chance he’d have been taken at some point in the NFL Draft. However, Sweat elected not to go that route. In 2018, he’s gambling on himself that he can better his draft stock and, in the process, help MSU’s defensive line live up to the hype it’s getting as it’s expected to be one of the nation’s stingiest groups.

Breakout year

Sweat’s return is a a big deal for the Bulldogs because of the breakout season he had in 2017. Sweat was an All-Southeastern Conference first team selection last year. He led the SEC with 10.5 sacks and won three SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week awards.

The funny thing is, Sweat wasn’t even listed as a defensive lineman a year ago for MSU. State’s roster labeled Sweat a linebacker, even as Sweat shifted back and forth between the line and linebacker in his hybrid role.

Zeroing in

There will be no more shifting back and forth for Sweat in 2018. He’ll be able settle in up front as Sweat will be exclusively a Bulldog defensive lineman this year.

State defensive line coach Brian Baker is eager to see how good Sweat can be now that he can be singularly focused.

“This year, he’s in one spot and one position,” Baker said of Sweat in the spring. “He’s learning the defense and learning what to do. He’s doing all the things that’s specific to defensive line play.”

The decision

Sweat made his choice to come back to MSU back in early January.

To hear Sweat talk, it really didn’t seem like that tough of a call.

“It was a decision that I made with my family and with my coaches,” Sweat said in the spring. “We thought it would be best for me just to come back and get my degree in December and go ahead and have another great season and take it from there.

“(New MSU head football coach Joe Moorhead and Shoop) were saying how much of a benefit it would be for me to come back. I also have relationships on the team I didn’t want to let go of too.”

Sweat’s coaches cite his relative lack of experience as a main reason why he’ll benefit from one more year of college football. Prior to last season, Sweat’s playing background in college was limited to two games his freshman season at Michigan State, then a season at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

“I just feel like there are more things he can do from a football standpoint,” Baker said of Sweat. “He can learn to do things more efficiently. Overall, he just needs to learn the game more. He’s still relatively young in the game compared to other guys of his status.”

Did you know?

Sweat was a two-sport star in high school.

In addition to excelling in football at Stephenson High School in Georgia, Sweat nearly averaged a double-double in his final season of prep basketball. In his senior year on the hardwood, Sweat averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He also tallied an average of 1.4 blocks per contest.

Looking ahead

It’s hard not to see Sweat once again wreaking havoc on SEC offenses this year.

All the factors are in place for him to have a big year. He has a year of SEC experience under his belt. Sweat can focus totally on the defensive line position. It also doesn’t hurt that Mississippi State has one of the country’s deepest and most talented units on the defensive front. That’ll give Sweat an opportunity to catch a breather whenever he needs to in order to stay fresh.

If it all plays out as well as it looks like it might, the Bulldogs are going to love every moment of Sweat’s final MSU season and Sweat can ride a successful year right into a tremendous NFL opportunity.

“He has a great future in the game,” Shoop said of Sweat.

(Editor's Note: Leading up to the start of Mississippi State football training camp, the Starkville Daily News will take a look at several of the key pieces for the 2018 Bulldogs. Today, the SDN profiles MSU defensive end Montez Sweat.)