April 2, 2009
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- One of the rewards for offensive line coach John Hevesy when he joined Dan Mullen''s football staff at Mississippi State was getting a chance to work with Derek Sherrod.
While at Florida three years ago, Hevesy recruited the former Caledonia High School player for the Gators.
"I begged and pleaded with his mom and dad," Hevesy said.
As the Bulldogs continue through the second week of spring practice, Hevesy is not only helping Sherrod, but he also is working with Tobias Smith, of Columbus High, and the rest of the unit.
"They are good building blocks, and they are trying to learn it all," Hevesy said of Sherrod and Smith. "It''s a new technique for them, and really everything from how it''s coached and what''s coached."
Mullen has introduced the spread offense and each part of the offense had its responsibility, including the line.
Hevesy knows frustration comes with learning a new style, but he intends to keep on teaching and hopes the Bulldogs will stay committed to learning. He has been encouraged by the players'' eagerness.
"They want to learn and they are trying to absorb it all," Hevesy said. "It''s coming at them fast, not just the football part but everything since we''ve gotten here. It''s far different for them as far as tempo, speed, and how we coach.
"It''s like I tell them, there is no time to question. You just go and I coach that way. You coach like your pants are on fire so if you stand around, you are going to get burned. You''ve got to play the same way. You don''t have time to stop and think what might happen because you are going to get burned."
Hevesy hasn''t been able to get out into the community much since Mullen hired him, but he has gotten to know each of the offensive linemen.
Sherrod said the time Hevesy takes with the players is impressive.
"He''s been a pretty cool coach," Sherrod said. "He has come in here and learned about all of us. He''s out here every day working hard with us and making sure we run the right things and making us the best offensive linemen we can be."
Hevesy has been working with offensive lines for the past 13 years ever since he was a graduate assistant at Syracuse in 1996. Mullen followed Hevesy to Syracuse in 1997, and they coached together at Bowling Green (2001-02), Utah (2004), and Florida (2005-08).
Hevesy wanted the chance to remain in the Southeastern Conference and to follow Mullen.
"It was a different opportunity for me at a program I''ve had respect for and (it gives us a chance to) put our name on it," Hevesy said. "To work with Danny again is a good deal."
Hevesy has coached in four Bowl Championship Series Bowls, including national championship teams at Florida in 2006 and 2008.
Mullen knows he has brought in someone with "championship experience" to help build MSU''s offensive line.
"John is doing a good job building some camaraderie and some experience of guys who have played before," Mullen said. "We still have a long way to go, but we''re taking little steps every practice of understanding the offense more and more."
Hevesy likes the Bulldogs'' potential, which he saw at Florida.
"We saw defensively they had some great looking players all around and they play tough," Hevesy said. "Offensively, they''ve struggled in the four years I''ve known about them, but I''ve always heard about Mississippi recruiting, the players that come out of Mississippi, and the NFL players per capita out of the state.
"When you look at those intangibles, there are opportunities. Now we need to put the right pieces of the puzzle together and get going with it."