The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Mclaurin makes most of opportunities

Olivia Zeringue | The Reflector

Sophomore Mark Mclaurin has stepped up on defense this year. He has two interceptions and a fumble recovery for the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State pulled off a miraculous upset of now No. 8 ranked Texas A&M last weekend. Most people saw the great play of Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams and gave credit for the win to them. However, another player on the defensive side of the left his mark.

Mark McLaurin, a sophomore from Collins, Mississippi, did not fill up the stat sheet, finishing with three tackles and an interception in the game. But the timing of the plays he made are what mattered.

His position coach, Maurice Linguist, credits Mclaurin’s preparation off the field to his new found success. 

“Mark is a guy that has been investing a lot of time with the staff,” Linguist said. “He has been investing a lot of time in his preparation and I think it is showing off on Saturdays right now.” 

McLaurin had one sack, and the timing of it could not have been better. In the third quarter, A&M was looking at third and one on the goal line. Jake Hubenak rolled out to the right as Mark McLaurin stepped out of coverage and closed with quickness to sack him for a loss of four yards, giving A&M a fourth and five. A&M kicker Daniel LaCamera missed a field goal on the next play. His interception was a lot more noticeable. 

On MSU’s last defensive play of the game, McLaurin caught a tipped pass to secure the MSU victory. However, A&M was not the only game McLaurin made plays in. Against Kentucky he returned a fumble 81-yards for a touchdown. After the game on Saturday, McLaurin quoted one of his high school coaches. 

“Like my old coach in high school would always tell me,” McLaurin said, “‘Big time players make big time plays at the right time.’ It so happened that I happened to be there and make the play for my team to get us off the field.”

Saturday was not an anomaly; McLaurin was forced onto the field by injuries. Senior safety Kivon Coman went down with an ankle injury against Auburn, missing the second half of that game. In what was already a thin safety group, after Jamal Peters moved to corner earlier in the season, McLaurin was called to step up and fill in for the veteran leader. McLaurin said he learned a lot from starting for a few weeks. 

“I knew I just had to come in and do my job,” McLaurin said. “I learned that I had a greater role to play and a lot more things I have to do.”

McLaurin has 38 tackles in his time on the field, including a 10 tackle game against Auburn. He has also caught two interceptions and recovered a fumble. 

Linguist said McLaurin has yet to reach his ceiling and become the player he can. He said his preparation brought him this far and he still has a high ceiling he can hit. 

“He has a good skill set, he is a big guy that can run, and he can eat up a lot of space on the back end because of his height and length, and he has got a high football IQ,” Linguist said. “His football IQ with the way he prepares, and his skill set and his length and his physical attributes are good compliment to a guy who can be a really good player.”

Coach Linguist has not been the only coach McLaurin  had. With Coman out, he was coaching from the sidelines, trying to help where he could. Against A&M, Coman was able to get back in the game, but instead of coaching McLaurin, he played alongside him. 

“It is good to get out there and play with him,” Coman said. “He is still young and still learning, being beside him just like Brandon (Bryant) who I play with, they are similar. Brandon has more speed in him but Mark sees things faster.”

McLaurin and the rest of the MSU defense will have to see things much faster this weekend in their upcoming game against No. 1 Alabama. The Bulldogs travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for an 11 a.m. kickoff that will broadcast on ESPN.

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Mclaurin makes most of opportunities