Deshea Townsend served as Chris Rayford‘s recruiter and was the primary reason he chose Mississippi State.
Rayford wanted to hone his secondary skills from the former two-time Super Bowl champion cornerback who is entering his third season as an assistant coach with the Bulldogs.
Now, the former Byhalia High School standout gets that opportunity on a daily basis.
“I’ve been really happy here, especially with Deshea being over me,” Rayford said. “I chose Mississippi State because of him. I wanted to be coached by him and learn from his experience. You’ve got to listen to him. He’s been where I am and went to the next level and that’s where I’m trying to go.”
The 6-foot, 190-pounder redshirted his first season in Starkville this past fall. It took some adjustment for the former two-star prospect to make the jump from Byhalia to the speed of the Southeastern Conference.
“The redshirt year helped me a lot and I saw how much the program developed me,” Rayford said. “Coming from where I’m from, this is a big improvement. We didn’t hardly do any drills at all in my hometown and here we do drills every day at fast repetition so we can get the tempo of the SEC because everybody’s fast.”
In addition to Townsend’s tutelage, Rayford is also gained knowledge from working with veteran cornerbacks during his true freshman campaign.
“I’ve really gotten comfortable with the defensive back position and coach Townsend being over me,” Rayford said. “I really watch Will Redmond and Taveze Calhoun and see how they do their thing and I try to mimic them.”
Although Rayford did not record any statistics or even dress out during MSU’s magical 2014 season, he felt just as connected with the Bulldogs’ success from the sidelines just as much as his teammates out on the field.
“In actuality, we contributed on the practice squad,” Rayford said. “I really felt a part of the team and was one of the juice boys on the sideline. We all did it.”
Rayford worked as the second team cornerback during the spring and recorded a solo tackle for the victorious White team during the spring game. He also had 11 total tackles during the Bulldogs previous two spring scrimmages.