August 28, 2012

Cornerback preview

In over two decades of coaching Melvin Smith has never been this excited entering a season.

The veteran cornerbacks coach at Mississippi State has a wealth of experience returning this year and is downright "giddy" about the talent he has coming up for the future.

"I've never had this many corners on one team ever in my career," Smith said. "I like their attitude and I like the way they work. All of them have very unique skill sets. I just call it the way I see it and I'm going to be real disappointed if we don't do well."

Naturally it all starts with senior All-American Johnthan Banks. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has been a fixture in the Bulldogs secondary for three seasons already starting 32 games with 12 career interceptions, which ranks second in school history. Banks has returned three of those picks for touchdowns which is tied for the most among active college players.

Banks has received numerous preseason honors heading into his final year and passed up a chance at the NFL last year to return to Starkville. But the attention and spotlight has not changed the former East Webster (Miss.) standout.

"The thing that impresses me about Johnthan is that he's always trying to get better and he's humble," Smith said. "You can get on Johnthan right now like you would a freshman and he responds. He doesn't have a lot of lip service for you. They trained him well at home because he's really working hard and trying to get better. He's set a standard for himself and the team."

Since Banks' counterpart Corey Broomfield has shifted to safety this season it has opened the door for another senior, Darius Slay, to get on the field more. The former junior college All-American was a late arrival last year and spent his rookie season at MSU learning the ropes of the SEC.

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