July 24, 2006

Coach Amos Jones Part 1

Coming in to be a part of Mississippi State was an easy choice for Coach Amos Jones. Already knowing Coach Croom and his personality he knew he would fit right in with what Coach Croom was trying to accomplish. Coach Jones is responsible for linebackers and special teams. After two years of laying the foundation under Coach Croom, Coach Jones reflects on the program and one of the positions he coaches.

Mississippi State has seen its football program has make a complete turnaround since the arrival of Coach Croom. Coach Jones credits Coach Croom and his principles for the new expectations that have been placed on the Bulldogs.

"I've known Coach Croom since 1977. I saw him as a young assistant coach at Alabama. I was a player in drills with him at Alabama. So I've seen him as a coach personally and as a mentor. Coach Croom has always been a guy that I can go to through the years. I've always felt like he was a guy that you can really trust and he genuinely cares about you as a person than just as a football player or coach."

"He's brought that attitude to our team. It's been a slow process from the standpoint of getting our own guys and getting the players to understand the demands. When you look at Coach Croom in my opinion, you're looking at a guy that demands as much from himself as he does the players and his assistants. I think once the players realized that he's got their best interest in mind from the things that he requires them to do from going to class to the instruction he gives them on the football field," Coach Jones commented.

Coach Croom and his staff have brought stability to Mississippi State since his arrival. For most elite programs stability is an overlooked principle in the winning formula.

"The biggest impact on the guys that I coach is my familiarity with them. We've had two years together. Gabe O'neal, Anthony Littlejohn, and Jamar Chaney were guys that our staff recruited. We evaluated those guys and actively recruited those guys for our program. They have pretty much grown up in our system and anytime you have continuity between the players and coaches it helps both parties."

"Quinton Culberson was a kid that played defensive back as a freshmen and then we moved him to linebacker. So basically everything he knows about the linebacker position we've taught him. Carlton Rice was a fullback that moved to linebacker. Brad Horton is the only returning kid that was a linebacker under the previous staff. I think the biggest thing is just the continuity and familiarity. I think that has had a lot of carry over to our football team," Coach Jones explained.

With the defense playing better at the end of last season, the expectations for this year are buzzing higher and higher.

"From a defensive stand point the starting linebackers are kids that we are excited about. They played together last year. The continuity is going to be big between those guys. Timmy Bailey and Jamon Hughes also bring some athleticism to the linebacker position. Anthony Littlejohn started six or seven games last year. Littlejohn is going to give Gabe some competition and Brad Horton and Carlton Rice are going to boost up our special teams."

"All of those guys will help out on special teams as well as on defense. Primarily on defense for the first time since we've been here we have some guys that can look beside them and know that, that guy has got my back," he explained.

As the Bulldog staff has continued to recruit more depth, this year Coach Jones can feel a little better about the situation he's in.

"Right now we feel good that we six quality guys that can contribute. We're playing some new guys that are not counted on to start. Last year we were starting Gabe for the first time, and also were Chaney and Littlejohn at the weakside linebacker. Quinton was the only returning starter from the past year. We have more depth, but we want about eight guys that can step in and contribute," he commented.

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