When the season kicks off for Mississippi State in a week, Johnathan Calvin has a chance to see significant playing time.
It is an opportunity that may not have been afforded the defensive end had he not graduated from Copiah-Lincoln Community College early. Calvin was able to enroll in January and go through spring drills with the Bulldogs and pick up the defense.
“Getting here in the spring was really important,” Calvin said. “I believe if I would’ve gotten here during the summer it would’ve been way harder. Now I feel like I’m ahead because I’ve learned the playbook and am trying to fit into the schemes and am more comfortable.”
Calvin’s impact was felt immediately during the final two spring scrimmages. The 6-foot-3, 263-pounder made 11 tackles, three sacks and forced a fumble while working his way up the depth chart.
The Jackson native enjoyed a successful sophomore season at Co-Lin making 46 stops, six tackles for loss, 5 ½ sacks and forced two fumbles but admitted that he had trouble adjusting to the speed of the Southeastern Conference when he first arrived in Starkville.
“Junior college ball is more like high school to me now that I’m here and see the pace,” Calvin said. “It’s on a whole other level.”
Calvin began his high school career as a basketball player at Provine but transferred to Murrah for his final two years where his talents spread to the gridiron. Although football was new to him, SEC schools still took notice of his raw power and athleticism.
“Dan Mullen came down before I went to junior college and Ole Miss was there a lot,” Calvin said. “Kentucky was going to offer me and send me to prep school but I didn’t go along with that. I’m happy I went to junior college.”
It was a good choice as Calvin went on to collect 20 scholarship offers his second trip through the recruiting process including SEC programs Auburn, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
However, MSU had something the others simply could not offer.
“It’s close to home and it’s easier for my momma to come see me,” Calvin said.
Calvin’s family will not have to travel far for his Division I debut as the Bulldogs open at Southern Miss on Sept. 5.