It's July, which means it's basically football season, right? Well, we're certainly close. With that in mind, the BulldogBlitz.com Senior Spotlight continues today. Every day, until there are none left, we will profile one of Mississippi State's seniors entering their last year in Starkville.
No. 7 Wade Bonner, safety, 5-foot-10, 195-pounds
How did he get here? Bonner was considered one of the top 50 defensive backs in the country in the class of 2007 coming out of high school and Rivals.com listed him as the best defensive back in Tennessee, the No. 19 Tennessee player overall. The Memphis native was also named the No. 18 wide receiver prospect in the country by one publication as he played receiver, defensive back and running back at Fayette Ware High School in Somerville, Tenn. He chose Mississippi State over Arkansas in December of 2006.
What did he do in 2010? Bonner played in all of MSU's 13 games last year and worked his way into the starting lineup toward the end of the season as the safety next to fellow senior Charles Mitchell. He was eighth on the team with 39 tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Bonner had zero interceptions in 2010 but he forced two fumbles, recorded one quarterback hurry and had one pass break-up.
What does he need to do in 2011? Bonner enters the season as the starter and the most experience safety next to Mitchell. However, there will be a number of young players anxious to get on the field and pushing him for time. Nickoe Whitley outperformed Bonner on the stat sheet last season. Johnthan Banks may play some at safety and redshirt freshman Matthew Wells is an athlete who will push for time in the secondary.
Bonner's experience and knowledge will keep him on the field in 2011 and finding the ball more, either by tackling or intercepting, will help him maintain his starting role. There will likely be a lot of rotation in the secondary for MSU next year, so even if he doesn't start, Bonner will play significant snaps.
Coach's quote: MSU safeties coach Tony Hughes: "Bonner is a hard-nosed kid that has really developed in the program. He has worked for everything he's gotten and nobody has given him anything. He has earned a lot of respect, not just from the coaches but also by the players. He plays with emotion, is physical and a spiritual leader for the team. He is an older guy going into his last season. And you can tell that means a lot to him by his commitment to the team and to helping us be the best we can be."