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Calhoun takes bigger role on MSU offensive line


Brett Hudson



STARKVILLE -- Depending on the year, there are times when Mississippi State offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator John Hevesy moving a lineman to a different position can be worn as a badge of honor. 


Deion Calhoun has been given that honor this fall. 


Calhoun's experience at right guard from last fall seemed destined to be his starting point for a move to full-time left guard starter this year, moving there to replace departed senior Devon Desper. Now he's back at right guard -- with no signs of giving up the spot -- for one reason. 


"We'll have the right tackle position with the least amount of experience; Deion has the most experience," Hevesy said. "Two years ago was the same thing when I moved guys around: they will help each other get through it. 


"To me, Deion has the most experience, so that's why he's over there to help them get through with calls and communication." 


With redshirt freshman Stewart Reese as the leader of the pack to take the starting right tackle role, Calhoun will be the only man next to him on the field with any playing experience, with 22 games under his belt. 


Calhoun is going out of his way to take care of Reese since he was in Reese's shoes a year ago: when Calhoun started nine regular season games last year as a sophomore, he was sandwiched between senior right tackle Justin Senior and senior center Jamaal Clayborn. 


As Calhoun remembers it, Senior was moved to right tackle exclusively for his benefit, much like he is this year for Reese. 


"I had to depend on the right tackle to give me the calls and where the defense is going," Calhoun said. 


It's a responsibility Calhoun is taking seriously -- so much so that he's taking on personal changes. 


"That's one thing I've been thinking about: I have to communicate more, because I already know how it feels to have nobody communicating with you when you're young," Calhoun said. "You can be out there clueless, so I need to make sure Stewart knows what he's doing and what's going on before the play even happens." 


For what it's worth, Calhoun knows Reese is far from a project player. Reese was the top-rated offensive lineman in MSU's 2016 signing class and among the top 20 at his position in the state of Florida. With just one year on campus, Reese is still impressing. 


"He has all the ability and if he applies himself, he could be a four-year starter and get to the NFL," Calhoun said. 


In that sense, Hevesy is trusting developing the future of the MSU offensive line to Calhoun: "It is expected of them. They have the talent, they have everything we need and everything we want." 


In all the discussion of his changing on-field role, Calhoun is not one to assume he still has a starting spot. Calhoun, alongside likely starting center Elgton Jenkins, missed spring practice with the ankle injury that plagued him in 2016. 


Others would have used that time to improve in ways that would translate to future opponents; Calhoun used that time to get ready for preseason camp, a move he hoped would guarantee his starting spot. 


"I just tried to understand the defense that (new MSU defensive coordinator Todd) Grantham was bringing in," Calhoun said, "because I knew that was the defense I'd have to go against in camp." 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson



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