Calhoun part of experienced State offensive line

Deion Calhoun

Staff Writer

It’s hard for Deion Calhoun to believe it, but his final season at Mississippi State and as a college football player has arrived.

Calhoun has been contributing for MSU’s interior offensive line since he was a redshirt freshman. For the last two seasons, he’s been penciled in as a starter at offensive guard and he was the guy at right guard for all 13 games last season including grabbing Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week against Kentucky.

For the senior year, Calhoun will be joined by three other offensive linemen who started every game last season as left guard Darryl Williams, center Elgton Jenkins and right tackle Stewart Reese all return. Though left tackle Greg Eiland didn’t start all season, he also logged starting reps when Martinas Rankin went down with injury. It makes for one of the more experienced offensive line units in the Southeastern Conference.

“I believe we’ve meshed well," Calhoun said. "One thing that an offensive line has to have in the SEC is experience and I feel like we’ve got that. Even though Greg doesn’t have a lot of game experience, it was good that he got to play in games so he will be prepared for games this season.”

The former Restoration Academy (Ala.) offensive lineman went from unwanted and unknown Academy player to one of the Bulldogs’ most reliable blockers. His versatility is what makes him intriguing for the next level and for this season if need be.

If an injury occurs on the interior, there are a multitude of options that can handle the loss and offensive line coach Marcus Johnson is prepared for that. It’s why Calhoun, Jenkins and Williams have all taken turns at all three spots in the middle of the line. Calhoun could be the second choice at center if Jenkins goes down and it’s something he’s worked on for several months just in case.

“I’m very comfortable now that I got snaps in the spring and I’ve been practicing every day with the quarterbacks,” Calhoun said. “I believe if I had to do it, I’d do a good job at it.”

That’s one of the things that has impressed Johnson the most since he arrived late last winter and began to build a relationship with Calhoun.

The position coach has been pleased with Calhoun’s work ethic, but also how he’s lead the offensive line group. Being willing to play any position needed has shown Calhoun’s true willingness to sacrifice for the team.

“He’s an easy, steady guy," Johnson said. "He stays the course and doesn’t get to high or too low if things go bad. He’s a tough guy who isn’t going to say a lot of words. I would say that he’s a lead-by-example guy. He’s going to work his butt off and compete.”

Working hard isn’t exclusive to Calhoun, though, the entire offensive line is prepared to be a strength of the offense this season. Most notably, Calhoun likes what the three interior linemen bring to the table.
With 57 starts between them, Calhoun, Jenkins and Williams are prepared to do damage this season and build on a big 2017.

“I believe we’re going to be more efficient in the run game,” Calhoun said. “We were efficient last year, but it’s going to be better this year because us three take pride on the inside. We’re trying to be the best on the inside in the country.”

As for the rest of the team, Calhoun expects the same.

The Bulldogs return most of its offense and defense from a nine-win season and, despite a head coaching change, expectations are as high as they’ve ever been in Starkville. Calhoun is hoping to go out with a bang in his final year in maroon and white.

“Our head coach has a lot of confidence in us," Calhoun said. "When somebody else has a lot of confidence in us, we have confidence in ourselves. I believe that we can do it.”