Cedric Jiles has already been at Mississippi State for four years and likely will still have two more to go.
Hand and foot injuries limited Jiles to just three games as a true freshman in 2012 and a hamstring injury kept him off the field for the entire 2014 season.
The 5-foot-10, 182-pound cornerback made his return this past fall, appearing in a dozen games for the Bulldogs.
“This doesn’t last forever and I found that out the hard way,” Jiles said. “I missed a whole year but now that I’m back I’m trying to soak it all up and take it day-by-day.”
Jiles finished the season with 15 tackles and four pass deflections. He had one of his better outings against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl while covering Laquon Treadwell, who many consider to be the top receiver prospect in this year’s draft.
“I just really wanted to beat those guys,” Jiles said. “They’ve had the trophy for the last few years and I really wanted to get it back. I went out there and gave my all for my team. I was in tune with the game and had some opportunities to make some plays.”
Now nearly two years removed from his last injury, Jiles has his sights set on impressing new cornerbacks coach Terrell Buckley this spring in hopes of earning a full-time starting job.
“I finally have an opportunity to go out there and start,” Jiles said. “I’m older, know the game and am feeling healthier. I just pray I stay healthy.”
It won’t be Jiles’ first experience starting though. The Clinton native earned the nod three times during his sophomore year and has appeared in 26 games throughout his career.
Jiles is a strong candidate to petition the NCAA for a medical redshirt and a sixth-year of eligibility for the 2017 campaign having missed 23 games due to injury.
“I’m going to be an old man leaving out of here,” Jiles said. “But it’s been a blessing. I love it out here.”
Although injuries have been a big part of Jiles’ trials at Mississippi State, he would not change anything about his journey as a Bulldog. In fact, he helped recruit fellow Clinton standout Grant Harris to join him in Starkville and is currently working on Arrows’ four-star running back Cam Akers.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Jiles said. “I could have went to other schools but I’m a Mississippi boy. I was born here and Mississippi State is my team. I’m happy I came here. I’d recommend this place to anybody. I think anybody from the South would love this program. As long as coach (Dan) Mullen stays it should stay a good program.”