STARKVILLE – When he steps on the playing field for the first time as a college football player next Thursday night, Jameon Lewis will try to remember the advice given to him by Arceto Clark.
Pretend you’re back in high school, except with a few more people in the stands.
Lewis, a receiver, is one of several redshirt freshmen expected to see action in Mississippi State’s season opener at Memphis. Eighteen members of last year’s signing class took a redshirt, and now they are being counted on to provide depth at many positions.
Lewis is a backup slot receiver and, as of right now, is on kickoff returns alongside LaDarius Perkins.
In recalling the advice of Clark, a fourth-year junior, Lewis said, “You’re in the SEC. It’s going to have to sink in, but once you get on the field, all of that is going to fade away.”
Lewis and others believe the year off from playing has served them well.
Defensive lineman Kaleb Eulls, who’s been working at both tackle and end, said it gave him a chance to learn the system, the speed of the game, and what coaches expect of players.
Lewis wasn’t quite so patient. He was eager to play last year but can now appreciate the value of redshirting.
“I’m a better player on the field,” he said. “I know what to do and when to do it and how to do it. It just helped me to do some things I couldn’t do that I thought I could do, but I couldn’t do, but now I know I can do it.”
Dan Mullen sure hopes so. The third-year head coach can tell those guys are preparing differently than last year, when they knew there was little or no chance of getting on the field.
He can also tell that the Memphis game is looming large for the redshirts. Mullen has some specific advice for them.
“You’ve worked really hard for that moment. Football is a sport where we work year-round for 12 opportunities – hopefully if you win enough, you get 13 or 14 opportunities. For those guys, now it’s time to take advantage of it.
“You better love that situation, you better go harder than you ever did running the stadium steps or in the mat drills or any of those things, because this is one of the 12 opportunities that we prepare all year for.”
The redshirt freshmen have a two-fold challenge: They’ve got to be able to keep up both physically and mentally.
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal