MSU's Moorhead to take stage early at SEC Media Days Wednesday

MSU football coach Joe Moorhead

Staff Writer

The last few months have been full of firsts for new Mississippi State head football coach Joe Moorhead.

He’ll have another one today when he steps to the podium at Southeastern Conference Football Media Days.

Moorhead takes the stage in the main room Wednesday at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia. When he does, he’ll be adequately prepared for whatever questions come his way says MSU Associate Athletic Director of Communications Bill Martin.

“One of (Moorhead’s) big strengths is getting up in front of an audience and commanding a room,” Martin said. “He’s done that with players, He’s done that at speaking events and clinics and whatever it might be, then obviously with the media too. Sure, this is his first go-around with SEC Media Days, but he’s well-prepared for this. He is going to really own that stage and command respect and set the vision for our program as we head into the season.”

For Martin, it’s a bit of a unique experience guiding a coach that’s a newcomer to the circus that can be SEC Media Days. Since Martin arrived at Mississippi State late in 2013, the only football coach he has ever worked with at MSU was Dan Mullen prior to Mullen’s departure to Florida after last season. Mullen was of course a veteran of the SEC Media Days experience. Since Moorhead is a rookie to it all, Martin has done all he can to make sure State’s head coach is ready to go Wednesday.

“I try to take him through everything I can possibly think of since he hasn’t experienced it yet,” Martin said. “I have diagrams from what the rooms are, to what the entrance is, to where we go after this. I try to paint the picture of, ‘Here is what the day is going to be like. Here is who you are going to talk to. Here is what you are obligated to do. Here’s what we need to do.’ I basically give him a comprehensive plan for the entire day and make sure he’s comfortable with it before we even step foot over there.”

Moorhead won’t be alone in representing the Bulldogs in Atlanta. MSU is also taking a trio of seniors in quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, defensive lineman Gerri Green and safety Mark McLaurin. It’s a reward of sorts for players to get the chance to go to SEC Media Days. That’s especially the case for Fitzgerald and Green after their already-impressive Bulldog careers.

“They have earned the right to represent our program there,” Martin said of Fitzgerald and Green. “They were voted team captains by their peers in the spring. Our team respects them and looks up to them. They’ve earned this right. They’re also outstanding in front of an audience and they’re leaders of our team. That’s our team offensive captain and our team defensive captain.”

McLaurin perhaps isn’t as recognizable as Fitzgerald and Green, but he too has earned his chance to go to SEC Media Days. McLaurin had six interceptions last season to tie an MSU single-season record. Martin is hopeful McLaurin’s appearance today serves to introduce him to anyone not yet aware of how good he has been and could potentially be.

“Mark is a senior that led the SEC in interceptions last year, but a lot of people still don’t know who he is and they need to because he’s a big-time player,” Martin said. “Bringing him to this stage really puts a name to a face – especially with how he ended the year as the MVP in the bowl game and intercepting Lamar Jackson three times and ending the year with six interceptions.

"People need to know and be aware of who he is. There are a lot of people on the team that people know who they are. People need to know Mark McLaurin and they will when this season ends.”

MSU’s turn at SEC Media Days begins early Wednesday morning. Moorhead speaks in the main room beginning at 8 a.m. Coverage will be provided on SEC Network.