By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Deontae Skinner has been a productive player for Mississippi State during his career.
But Skinner is off to his best start for the Bulldogs and the fifth-year senior linebacker credits defensive coordinator Geoff Collins’ new schemes as the reason.
“I feel like it’s a more aggressive defense,” Skinner said. “I feel like we’re playing faster and playing better. We’ve got a great understanding. Coach Collins teaches defense well so that’s why I think it’s better.”
The Macon native is second on the team with 23 tackles including two for loss. He has also nabbed his first career interception and sack through MSU’s first four games.
Collins has also been Skinner’s position coach for the past three seasons and the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder has seen his statistics and role on defense increase each year.
“Coach Collins is a great coach,” Skinner said. “I feel like he’s one of the best coaches I’ve had. Every day he’s going to push you and get the best out of you. I feel like he’s a great coach and I wouldn’t want any coach but him.”
The feeling is mutual for Collins.
“Deontae Skinner is one of my favorite players of all time that I’ve ever coached,” Collins said. “From the time I got here to who he is right now, he’s an unbelievable human being. He’s played sam linebacker, mike linebacker last year and now he’s a big time willie backer. He’s got high character and is the heart and soul of what we do.”
Skinner has appeared in 40 games during his MSU career including 28 consecutive starts. He has 161 career tackles including 16 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Noxubee County has produced some top talent in recent years including Omarr Conner, Joey Sanders, Patrick Patterson, Vincent Sanders and Dylan Bradley. As a senior, Skinner helped lead the Tigers to a Class 4A State Championship in 2008 and makes the short trek home from Starkville to visit his alma mater when he has the opportunity.
“It’s a great feeling because everybody back there (at Noxubee County) looks up to me,” Skinner said. “It’s a great feeling for them because when I go back they have somebody that they can look up to and know they can do something with their life. Hopefully it will make them want to do more with their life to go out there and grind and push.”