The Mississippi College defensive line has a new talisman that is representative of their attitude for this upcoming season: ready to smash.
The idea originally came from senior defensive lineman Kalvin Bowman. He and his friend, junior defensive lineman Michael Washington decided that the defensive line needed something special. “I said, ‘We are the D-line; we anchor the defense. We bring the thump,’” Bowman said, demonstrating by punching his fist into his palm. “We need a hammer.”
It was decided. Kalvin gathered the rest of the group, informed them of the plan, and took up money to buy the sledgehammer. “Originally, when we got it, it was a regular sledgehammer with a wood handle,” Washington explained. “My mom is artistic, so I had her do all the painting.” The handle of the hammer is gold, with two blue stripes around the bottom. The head and top fourth of the handle are painted dark blue. “I also asked her to write ‘TTAU’ down the handle on both sides, and ‘MC’ and ‘Choctaws’ on each side of the hammer at the top.” TTAU stands for “Team Together, Always United.”
“That’s the main thing we focus on,” said Washington. “Being a team and a brotherhood, all the time.” Bowman agreed. He said that he had never had such a strong sense of brotherhood before coming to Mississippi College. He’s going on his fourth year as a part of the MC football team. “This is the most confident I have ever felt going into a season,” he said.
Head coach John Bland was also optimistic about the games to come. “We are deeper and more talented in just about every position.” Bland believes that returning players and increased depth has allowed for more competition in practice, which will in turn create a better product overall. He has also observed increased confidence throughout the team. “When you have confidence, you also have leadership ability. Whether it is leadership by what they are saying or by what they are doing, it always helps.” he said. “We’ve got guys like Michael Washington, we have guys in the linebacker core who are really successful.”
The D-line look intimidating carrying their new custom sledgehammer, but that is not what makes them formidable foes. They are pushing harder than ever under a new coaching staff. “I am excited to see how well the defensive side of the ball actually mends together under Coach Watson and Coach Gilbert. They do a great job of pushing us to the next level, and expecting more from us in practice. Even when we do good, it is still not enough,” said Washington.
They have unfinished business, too. “I am looking forward to all of our games, but I am especially ready to play Florida Tech,” added Bowman. “We lost our heartbreaker to them last year by a touchdown. We really need to get that back. I am also looking forward to Delta State. For my senior year, I would love to get that bell.”
The Choctaws will play their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. vs. Albany State, followed by their first conference game on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. vs. North Greenville.