August 9, 2013 10:45:44 AM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- Pork Chop is back at Mississippi State University.
After spending a decade in the NFL, Floyd Womack, or "Pork Chop" as he's affectionately known by to MSU fans, has returned to his alma mater to work as an assistant coach on Dan Mullen's staff.
Womack, 34, has worked as a graduate assistant offensive line coach in the first two weeks of the football team's training camp. He has had a boyish grin every minute.
"I love the smell of the grass and love football," Womack said Wednesday. "I never thought I would do this, but now it seems like it was a calling for me."
Working as a coach is the second act of Womack's football career. Although he won't be able to recruit players, Womack will be part of the MSU football team's coaching staff as he completes his master's degree.
"When I was in the NFL, I was one of those guys helping younger players with their technique, whether it was hand placement or something else, so this seems like a natural transition for me as a career," Womack said. "I couldn't play forever."
Womack's return to MSU is part of an effort by fifth-year coach Dan Mullen to bring former Bulldogs back into the fold. Mullen has had Fred Smoot, a former teammate of Womack's, give motivational speeches to players, while other former players have returned to Starkville for visits.
"It's all a family here at Mississippi State, and you won't find that brotherhood any closer than offensive line play," Womack said. "You have to put the time in on and off the field to trust that guy next to you more than just a teammate. He has to be your brother. I'm able to come back to MSU because coach Mullen treats this place like I'm welcome as a family member."
Womack was part of four consecutive winning programs at MSU from 1997-2000. He went on to play offensive tackle for 11 seasons for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, and Arizona Cardinals. He started 71 games before retiring at the end of the 2011 season. Last year, he was a volunteer coach at a high school in the Jackson area. He then called Mullen to see if he could help at MSU.
"The biggest transition is finding a way to implement everything I'm learning as a teacher so I can pass it along to this new generation of players," Womack said. "I'm still trying to figure out how I want to teach and how I want to coach. That'll take time."
After hiring former NFL player and assistant coach Deshea Townsend as his new cornerbacks coach in the offseason, Mullen liked to idea of adding another former professional player to the staff.
"When you have an ability to relate to players with that type of experience in professional football, that will attract kids to this program," Mullen said. "It works with both of them in the positions they're in."
At MSU, Womack anchored the left tackle position as a sophomore and started 29 consecutive games. His emergence as a pass protector saw the Bulldogs throw for 6,358 yards in his tenure as a starter. His mother nicknamed him "Pork Chop" long before he agreed to play for Jackie Sherrill at MSU because she thought he resembled Pork Chop Cash, a local pro wrestler.
MSU has transformed since Womack's playing days. The MSU coaches work in the brand new $25 million Seal Family Football Complex. On Thursday, the team scrimmaged at Davis Wade Stadium, which is being renovated and will see a net gain of 6,255 seats that will move capacity to 61,337. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2014.
"These players have it awesome now," Womack said. "The Jumbotron wasn't even here when I played, so it shows how in the Southeastern Conference you have to step up your program."
Womack is working as a second lieutenant to MSU offensive line coach/running game coordinator John Hevesy, but he has the freedom to instruct how he wants to. However, Womack said he is learning just as much in his on-the-job training.
"When you're dealing with younger players, it's just a completely different," Womack said. "No matter the era or anything in football, you're still trying to get five guys to work as one. That will never change."
As new offensive linemen, such as four-star freshman Jake Thomas, of Columbus, mature, Womack also will be a sounding board for newcomers adjusting to the college game.
"I remember when I first came in I didn't think I could do it at this level," Womack said. "I tell them this story that I'm going against a junior and I fell flat on my face. After that practice, I called my mom and said I don't think I can make it."