By Maurice Patton
Landon Guidry was poised to participate in a potentially career-turning spring practice before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, limiting him to Zoom meetings and solo workouts from a distance.
Instead, the former Independence standout will look to make an impression on the new coaching staff at Mississippi State as the Bulldogs, along with the rest of the Southeastern Conference, return to their respective campuses June 8 for summer workouts.
“Definitely, not having spring ball hurt me,” said Guidry, who in two seasons has accounted for six total tackles – all during his redshirt sophomore campaign. “In winter workouts, I did a lot, showed them what I was capable of doing, put a good taste in my mouth. I felt like I was really showing them what I could do.”
The fallout from the pandemic is just another twist to what has been a somewhat tumultuous collegiate experience for Guidry. A two-way star at the high school level with 98 total tackles, four interceptions, 10 tackles for loss and four fumble recoveries over his junior and senior seasons, he’s been through two coaching changes and a knee injury since arriving in Starkville.
“I redshirted under (current Florida coach Dan) Mullen and played two years under (Joe Moorhead, dismissed following the 2019 season),” the 6-1, 200-pounder said. “(But) I know what I’m capable of doing. Even on Moorhead’s staff, I was competing with guys, with one guy in front of me that I thought I was better than, physically, mentally, I just never got the shot.
“This new staff likes me a lot. They’re telling me I’m going to get a lot of good reps this year, just based on what they’ve seen in winter workouts from me.”
Former Texas Tech and Washington State coach Mike Leach succeeded Moorhead, and Guidry likes what he’s seen from the offensive-minded veteran and the assistants he has brought to town – including safeties coach Jason Washington.
“Honestly, I get a Mullen feeling from him. He reminds me of Coach Mullen,” said Guidry, who expects to work at both free safety and nickel for the ‘Dogs. “He doesn’t talk a lot; he’s down to business. He won’t sugarcoat anything; he’ll tell you straight-up. I really love this staff.
“Coach Washington has been very helpful to me. He’s really taught me more about the techniques of the position. (Former safeties coach Bob) Shoop was more fundamental and scheme, which is great, but as a safety, I feel like fundamentals and technique are way more important, and that’s what Coach Washington has been teaching me.”
Between the lack of on-campus growth and the lack of stability, Guidry’s been somewhat frustrated but remains optimistic.
“There’s been some adjusting, some getting used to,” he said. “The meetings on Zoom, I’m starting to adapt more to that style of teaching. The most difficult part for me is strength and conditioning. I’ve been doing the best I can when it comes to doing things on my own, but it’s not the same without that college weight room. Definitely when we get back, we’re going to hit it hard.
“The biggest thing I take from all this is patience – waiting my turn. As much as it (frustrates), I just know that God’s got me. Whatever comes, I know it’s in His plan. I know that I’ve got to perform to the best of my abilities and everything should work out in my favor.”
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mopatton_sports.