Mississippi natives look to shine

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, September 19, 2013

By Danielle Percival

Facing an SEC opponent is enough to have any player focused and at the top of their game but for one Troy player, there is an added element of excitement surrounding the Mississippi State game.

Defensive end Jadarius Garner will be going home to face the team he grew up cheering for on Saturdays.

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“I used to have the Mississippi State belt with the logo all around. I don’t have any more gear now,” Garner said. “That wouldn’t be quite smart to wear a Mississippi State logo here at Troy.”

However, not everything related to the Bulldogs has been removed from Garner’s possession.

“My bank card is actually Mississippi State’s bank card,” Garner said. “It has the logo on it.”

Garner’s hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi is three hours from Starkville, but he was raised a Mississippi State fan and attended many games growing up.

He attended high school with a former player on the Bulldogs team and went to many games at Davis Wade Stadium and stood on the sidelines with the players.

Now, Garner has the chance to move from the sidelines to the field.

“It’s going to be a great experience,” Garner said. “It’s intense, just the thought of it.”

Garner saw his first playing time for Troy this season and was named the Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the week in the second week of the season.

Against Savannah State, Garner led the team with six tackles, and two sacks which both led to fumbles.

Garner isn’t the only player that will be heading to their home state on Saturday.

In total there are six players on the Troy roster that call Mississippi home and for some of these players they’ll be taking the field against guys they’ve faced before.

“My roommate, one of my best friends, Wayland [Coleman-Dancer] that’s all he’s been talking about,” linebacker Mark Wilson said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are from Mississippi. They can’t wait to go play in front of the fans and the guys they grew up with.”

Bulldogs fans are known for their ability to make noise and are probably most recognizable by the signature cowbell.

“I hate it. Always have,” kicker Will Scott of Lucedale, Mississippi said. “My aunt actually got me one when I was little. I still have it, but I hide it.”

Though the players might not be a fan of the tradition of the cowbell, Blakeney isn’t shying away from the issue.

“I hope they’re as loud as they’ve ever been,” Blakeney said. “It’s a part of the southeastern conference lore really.”

On Saturday, Garner will have the first opportunity to play in front of his family as a division one football player.

He is expecting to see many of his family members in attendance at the game including his grandmother and up to eight others.

Though Garner may have stopped supporting the Bulldogs, his family members haven’t all changed their ways.

“There’s some people in my family that are still Mississippi State fans, but there’s others that are Jadarius Garner fans,” Garner said. “I’ve got to convert them all Saturday.”