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August 8, 2013

Offensive line building a special bond





Mississippi State's veteran offensive line won't be on the PGA tour this year. No, they aren't known for their golf swing, but their coach John Hevesy says that they do like to swing the clubs from time to time and it's part of what makes this group as special as they are.

"Everyone is from a different walk of life," Hevesy said. "This summer we went to play golf and there's some terrible, terrible golfers out there. But it's just having to let down egos. A freshman looks at Gabe Jackson and watches him try to hit a golf ball and it's one of the funniest things you've ever seen in your life, but it brings his ego down and it gets a laugh out of everyone. That goes for on the field as well when the young guys realize that they're going to get knocked down but they have to get back up and play."

That is the status of the offensive line as a whole coming into the 2013 season. For the first time since Dan Mullen and Hevesy have been at the helm, they're able to say they have an entire offensive line returning from last season that recorded starting snaps and four of the five starters are coming off of a full year on the starting line.

Bulldog fans might not look at this group as the best set of linemen since the two took over the reins in Starkville, but there might not be a tighter knit set of players in any group in quite some time. Two of the linemen that have developed a brotherhood and just so happen to be side-by-side in their blocking duties is All-SEC guard Jackson and preseason Rimington Award watch list center Dillon Day.

"You look at where Gabe is from and where Dillon (Day) is from and it's two different lives. They might be from 100 miles away but you see them now and they're working together. You have to have a common goal to be successful as a team and successful as an individual."

Jackson is a consensus all-conference player and a future early-round selection for the NFL Draft. Those things are great for the three-year starter, but he still puts the team first and enjoys his friendship with guys like Day.

"I feel like there's a different demeanor," Jackson said of this year's line. "Everybody is more into it this year and we're a lot more confident with each other playing side by side. Just learning how to love life together is big for us."

In most sections of the country, this kinship would be a bit unorthodox to say the least. But Day has proven time and time again, that the junior is far from ordinary. Dressed in full arm sleeve tattoos and the physique and hair like Thor, Day said that what you see is what you get.

"I'm myself, I don't put on fronts for anyone," Day said. "In high school I had to stay pretty clean cut so I guess when I got to college I just kind of cut loose."

A fun loving guy in the locker room and riding around campus on his scooter, Day becomes a different person on the field. So where does the different animal come from? "I like to enjoy life and make people laugh," Day said. "But on the football field, it's kind of like a job, I take it very seriously. I want to punish people out there. When I'm around my friends I want to have fun, but when it's time for business I take it seriously."

While Hevesy will admit it's nice to finally have some consistent experience up front, he is most excited about being deeper at the position than ever before. The prospects are enough to make a coach salivate in the film room over the possibilities.

"I feel like the ones are playing and they're coming together as a group and the twos are really picking things up which is good," Hevesy said. To me, to have 10 or 11 guys to play and have somewhat of a concept of what to do is really good."

The starting line is remaining constant for the Bulldogs with Blaine Clausell, Jackson, Day, Justin Malone and Charles Siddoway running from left to right. Malone is the only one of the group that didn't start the whole season making just four starts at the position working behind Tobias Smith.

From left tackle to right guard, the positions are pretty much set, but right tackle could become a battle with a rehabbing Damien Robinson trying to get into the mix as he is finally getting into practice shape and running with the twos.




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