By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Johnathan Calvin had a strong showing at defensive end during Mississippi State’s spring game back in April by racking up eight tackles and four sacks.
Calvin honed his craft even more over the summer and was all set to continue his dominance during his senior season.
That all changed on the first day of fall camp when Will Coleman went down with a back injury leaving the Bulldogs without a veteran playmaker at their new viper position.
Defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon made the decision to move Calvin to viper, which is a hybrid position that combines the skill set of a defensive end and an outside linebacker.
“He’s a little bit of a fish out of water and it’s a challenge for him to play off the ball in space at the end of his college career when he’s been a go forward guy,” Sirmon said. “There’s a tremendous learning curve from being a go forward guy to a space guy. John’s worked his tail off and I’m happy with his effort.”
Calvin has started all seven games at viper this season and has proven productive in every phase.
The 6-foot-3, 272-pounder has accumulated 39 tackles, six of which have been for loss, 2.5 sacks, forced and recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass.
“His best attributes are on the line of scrimmage,” Sirmon said. “He’s a heavy handed guy that’s good at the point of attack. He’s had some really good pass rushes like in the South Carolina game and made the huge play at UMass with the interception to seal the game.”
Calvin believes the new attributes he has acquired at viper will aid him in being more attractive to NFL scouts when he begins preparing for next year’s draft.
“I really think it’s going to help me a lot,” Calvin said. “I’ve kind of got the feel for it now. I’m really proud of myself because it could’ve went the other way. Everything is working out for the best.”
Just as the Jackson native is starting to feel like his career is on track, it is coming to a close. Calvin’s career is down to five games after he spent two years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College before transferring to MSU.
Calvin saw action in all 13 games for MSU last year and even started the Belk Bowl but has already surpassed his 2015 statistics.
“I feel like this is really my first season to get to play,” Calvin said.
Calvin is set to graduate in December with a degree in interdisciplinary studies and plans to return to school in January to begin work on becoming a licensed contractor while training for the NFL.