October 10, 2009 11:36:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- Johnthan Banks doesn''t just want to be a boy among men.
The Mississippi State freshman safety from East Webster High School in Maben wants his play to continue to earn respect from his coaches and teammates.
Banks did enough last week in practice to gain his first career start in the secondary Saturday in a 31-24 loss to the University of Houston.
After only being at the safety position for two weeks, Banks relished the opportunity and wasn''t nervous.
"My teammates and my coaches trusted me," Banks said. "Coach (Tony) Hughes, Zach Smith, and Charles Mitchell all worked with me and got me ready to play. They knew I could play football, so I went out there to play as hard as I could."
Banks said moving from cornerback to safety has created a big change in coverage and techniques.
MSU coach Dan Mullen has been pleased with the progress of Banks, who had six tackles Saturday.
With junior safety Zach Smith out with an unspecified injury, Banks could play a bigger role on defense.
"He may have gotten out of position once or twice, but as a young guy, I thought he did a pretty admirable job back there," Mullen said. "John has an extremely bright future as a defensive back. He can do a lot of different things with a guy his size (6-foot-2) and his range."
Chaney''s first pick
MSU senior linebacker Jamar Chaney has had the reputation of having the nose for the football.
The saying usually pertains to his knack for making tackles.
On Saturday, Chaney recorded the first interception of his career when he picked off Houston quarterback Case Keenum.
"I was just showing blitz and stepped over in the passing lane," Chaney said.
Keenum''s quick release and ability impressed Chaney.
"He''s probably the best quarterback we will see on the field this year as far as making reads and throws," Chaney said.
Sophomore safety Charles Mitchell 71-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter was his second interception of the season and career.
The score was the Bulldogs'' fourth non-offensive touchdown this season. They didn''t have one last season.
MSU senior quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, rushed for a career-high 68 yards. ... The first-quarter sack for junior linebacker Chris White was his first as a Bulldog. ... MSU senior tailback Anthony Dixon is eighth all-time in the Southeastern Conference with 760 rushing attempts. .... The Bulldogs rushed for 330 yards as a team, the most since gaining 340 yards against Kentucky in 2004. ... MSU''s 490 yards of total offense was the most since it had 501 against Arkansas in 2007.