Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Blessing in Disguise"
By Paul Jones, Staff writerPosted Mar 31, 2009Copyright © 2009

Mississippi State fifth-year senior Jamar Chaney suffered a "double-whammy" in the 2008 season opener at Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs were well on their way to dropping the season opener and late in the fourth quarter, Chaney laid in agony on the field.
"First of all, when I got hurt I thought it was just a high-ankle sprain," said Chaney, who had 12 tackles against Louisiana Tech. "Or at least that's what I was hoping it was. As soon as I found out it was broke, it was pretty bad. It was bad enough we were about to get beat in our first game then I found out I was done for the year. Not a good feeling."
While the rest of State's season didn't get much better, Chaney was able to find a silver lining at the conclusion of the 4-8 campaign. Chaney received a medical redshirt for last year, and has since recovered from his injury.
And that is also good news for MSU football fans.
"It was a blessing in disguise, though," said 6-foot-1 and 245-pound Chaney. "I get another chance and another year. I get to play for this new staff and that is a blessing."
Chaney's return to the fold makes the linebackers' corps even stronger. Naturally, his leadership and ability are a welcomed sight to a program short on experience and proven SEC talent.
Over the last three-plus years, Chaney has collected 208 tackles and 13 tackles for loss. In 2007, the former Georgia signee was the team's leading tackler with 89 stops.
The Bulldogs also return another starting linebacker in rising junior K.J. Wright and in the offseason, inked juco All-American linebacker Chris White.
Several other MSU linebackers bring experience to the table - Karlin Brown, Jamie Jones, Terrell Johnson, Bo Walters - along with up and coming redshirt freshmen Mike Hunt.
"There's going to be alot of competition and alot of good players," said Chaney. "Everybody is fighting to get their spot and their snaps. It's going to be fun, and more competition makes for better practices."
One of the top questions entering State's spring session concerned Chaney facing a possible position change this fall. For the past couple of seasons, Chaney has lined up at middle linebacker spot and directed the Bulldogs' defense.
At the end of last year, the former MSU staff mentioned that Chaney could move to outside linebacker.
Chaney noted that his position for 2009 is not set in stone just yet. Naturally, that situation will become clearer but for now, Chaney is making sure he's ready for either spot.
"It is a new defense with new terminology," said Chaney. "Once I get that down, then I will be ready to play whatever spot they need me to play.
"There are some different tweaks in the schemes and different formations. We might line up in different spots on back-to-back plays. So I have to make sure I am ready and there's a lot to learn."
Which is expected with a new head coach Dan Mullen and a lot of new faces on the coaching staff.
This spring, Chaney is taking orders from his third different position coach in Starkville. But as he noted earlier, he's just glad to be here.
"It means alot," said Chaney. "I get to learn from a guy like Coach (Carl) Torbush and he's been coaching alot of years and coached alot good linebackers. It's going to help me out alot, I can learn more from him and it makes that transition for me even better."
This past Saturday, there was plenty of "learning" going on with MSU's first unofficial scrimmage-type practice. Points were rewarded on both sides of the ball and not just the obvious point totals of touchdowns.
In the end, the offense rallied to capture the prize (less running). The offense celebrated like there was no tomorrow and Chaney hopes to limit those celebrations in the near future.
"It was fun," said Chaney. "We were all getting different points, like with the DBs and how they did 1-on-1 with receivers and things like that, like the D-line getting past the O-line.
"It was fun but it wasn't fun when we lost and had to do all the running. It came down to us being tied and they got in on that last run. We have to make sure that doesn't happen no more."
Early in spring drills, Chaney seems back to his old self - flying to the football and delivering big hits.
Considering what he's done the past three years, most figured Chaney would waste little time shaking off the rust.
"It won't take too long," said Chaney. "Because I'm not going to just let anybody hit me. If I don't hit them first then I know they are going to hit me. And that's not going to happen (laugh)."
When September 5, 2009, rolls around, the Bulldogs will open the Mullen coaching era and it will also mark Chaney's return to the field.
And it can't get here soon enough, said Chaney.
"I am back in the Maroon and White, playing another year of college football," said Chaney. "I am so anxious to be back leading this defense.
"Like I said, it's just a blessing in disguise."