By JOEL COLEMAN
All it took was a stay at a local hotel to let Maurice Linguist know he was officially a Mississippi State Bulldog.
“I checked into the Courtyard Marriott a couple of days ago and everybody came out and asked if was one of the new coaches and then they started telling me how to beat Ole Miss,” MSU’s new safeties coach said. “That’s how I knew this was serious now. This is for the big boys.”
Linguist is just one of three new hires on Mississippi State’s defensive coaching staff this offseason. Along with defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon and cornerbacks coach Terrell Buckley, Linguist completes a new-look group that is meshing in the weeks leading up to spring practice.
“We’re all kind of new,” Linguist said. “(Defensive line coach David) Turner was already here, but it’s four new people working together. That’s what you have to love about this game. It’s just about putting everything aside and figuring out the best thing to do for our defense. We’re just in the initial phases of developing and building our scheme and terminology and just making sure we’re speaking the same language. We’re excited to put these pieces together and just come in here and grind everyday.”
Linguist considers himself a fortunate man. The 31-year-old former Iowa State assistant is now getting to wet his feet in the waters of the Southeastern Conference for the first time after also working at Baylor, Valdosta State, James Madison and Buffalo.
“The SEC is the best in the nation,” Linguist said. “There is no argument about that.”
He’s also in an area of the country he feels familiar with.
“I love being anywhere in this I-20 area,” Linguist said. “I’m from Dallas and I’ve spent a lot of time in Atlanta. This is just another stop right in between. I’m just excited to be down here in the south in familiar territory for myself. I haven’t been to Mississippi particularly, but I know the culture and the areas down here. Anywhere where I can walk in and order some sweet tea, I feel good.”
To top it all off, he’s now guiding one of the most talented young group of safeties in the SEC. Names like Brandon Bryant, Jamal Peters and Mark McLaurin will all just be sophomores for the 2016 football season. That trio has already impressed Linguist.
“They have taken those initial steps to become those high-caliber players that you need to compete in this league,” Linguist said. “I’m excited to help these guys take those next steps and get to the next stage.
“My early impressions have been really good. I think their mental temperament is really good. They are good kids that want to bust their butts and work hard. I think football is important to them, which is probably the most important ingredient. All those things are high. When those things are high, now you have a chance to work with the other tools.”
His new position group exemplifies the reasons Linguist is thrilled to be in Starkville. The players are hungry to get better and hungry to succeed. Those are traits they share with their new coach.
“I’m excited to be here and excited to be a part of what (head coach Dan) Mullen has established here,” Linguist said. “Everybody has a chip and and edge. If you don’t have something to prove everyday, you won’t improve. Every single day we’re out to prove what we need to prove and just outwork every single person that’s around us and get every single inch out of ourselves as coaches and out of these kids as well. I think we’re going to have something special here.”