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August 19, 2011

Swedenburg seasoned for success

Baker Swedenburg is in his final semester of undergraduate work at Mississippi State and originally signed with the Bulldogs in the 2008 class.

But yet Swedenburg has yet to play in a single game during his football career. But that will all change soon as the sophomore - by way of a greyshirt and redshirt year - is taking over as MSU's punter with three years of eligibility remaining.

"I'm about to finish my undergrad in December but I'm a sophomore on the field," Swedenburg said. "It's been a lot of hard work but I wouldn't trade it for anything to be a part of this team."

Swedenburg replaces the departed Heath Hutchins, who has handled the Bulldogs punting duties the past two seasons. The extra time has allowed the former Heritage Academy (Miss.) standout to adjust to life on and off the field.

"I got a lot of college life under my belt and a lot of practice," Swedenburg said. "I think it worked out for the best."

Taking over the starting job at punter was a large task but after three weeks of practice Swedenburg has now embraced the opportunity.

"It's going good," Swedenburg said. "I really wanted to focus on consistency and so far throughout the camp I've done that. Going into fall camp it was more nerves. I'm definitely not more satisfied but I'm glad that I'm more consistent so nervousness is out. I'm excited now."

With three years to sit back and think about what his first game might be like, one might think Swedenburg would be nervous. But as a lifelong Bulldog he is anxious to fulfill a lifelong dream.

"It's going to be surreal," Swedenburg said. "I grew up a State fan and haven't missed a home game since I was five. I'll have to tell you how it feels afterwards but I can't imagine right now."

Growing up just a half-hour from the Mississippi State campus in Columbus, Swedenburg spent a lot of time in the stands at Davis Wade Stadium as a child.

Even after Swedenburg was considered the No. 3 punter in the country by Ray Guy's ProKicker.com, he still never considered going to any other university.

"Every Saturday (my family) would be over here during the fall even during basketball season," Swedenburg said. "It's definitely just another home for sure. I enjoy it."

The former two-star recruit was signed by Sylvester Croom but has spent the majority of his career working under Dan Mullen, who also serves as the Bulldogs special teams coordinator.

"(Mullen) comes in to go over what we are putting in that day and go over what we did yesterday, what we need to work on and what he is looking for," Swedenburg said.

Mullen has seen Swedenburg kick on a daily basis for two years now and also watched him perform in a pair of spring games. The third-year head coach feels he has performed well in those enviornments and hopes it continues on game day.

"The benefit of having a big crowd at the spring game Baker Swedenburg, who's never kicked before in a game, went out in the spring game in a live situation and performed," Mullen said. "That's what you want to see. Until he gets into a live game situation we're going to have to wait and see. He's good at practice but there's a big difference between practice and games."

Backing up Swedenburg this fall will be junior William Berg.


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