Calvin Middleton: "He’s a Monster."
A running back that will have a huge role for the Gamecocks in 2010 is junior, Calvin Middleton. Middleton, a former Cobb County running back of the year, had a great 2009 season for the Gamecocks rushing for close to 700 yards at over 5 yards per carry despite the fact that Jacksonville State passed the ball frequently. Middleton had over 100 yards against UT- Martin and 98 yards against EKU. Middleton also had success against the big boys as well averaging over five yards per carry against Georgia Tech. The Spring Game showed it was not a fluke- Middleton went for 147 yards on 21 carries.
As we look to the 2010 season, here is what others say about Middleton:
“Calvin is a big back that has little back quickness. He is hard to tackle and runs with his pads forward . . .” – Head Coach, Jack Crowe
“he’s a monster.” – former Gamecock linebacker, Andrew Ridgeway.
“I always expect Calvin to just bust open every play. I love watching him play. He is just explosive and I never know what he is going to do.” – Gamecock Tackle, Curt Porter.
“Calvin Middleton will be a big factor in the running game. He is working hard this summer.” – Gamecock Guard, Tyler Ogletree.
“He has great vision and quickness.” – Running back coach, Jimmy Ogle on Middleton before the 2009 season.
After hearing these great things about what #3 brings to the table, it was great to get a few words with the man himself following a summer workout.
GI: How did you wind up at Jacksonville State- who else was looking at you?
CM: I had a couple of other schools that were looking at me, UAB and Alabama. But, nobody [was looking that hard at me] because my grades were [an issue]. But, Jacksonville State they stuck with me. They stayed with me until the end, so I ended up coming here. Coach [Adam] Ross [recruited me].
GI: Your Senior year you were named Cobb County running back of the year [Cobb County is a huge metro Atlanta county] what did that mean to you?
CM: It felt great. I figured I came along since my junior year since I did not make all county first team. So, it felt great to make that my senior year.
GI: Cobb County is only about 100 miles away from JSU, is it nice to be close where your family and friends can come watch you play?
CM: Yes, I think I am the perfect distance.
GI: We have had a lot of players from Cobb County over the years- what’s the attraction?
CM: It’s a good place and a good distance, plus we are a good team so who wouldn’t want to come here.
GI: You came in as a fullback, but switched to running back.
CM: I was kind of overweight my freshman year. They put me at fullback just to see what I could do. But [Coach Crowe] told me that if I ever lose the weight he would put me at running back. Obviously, I lost the weight.
GI: What is your ideal playing weight at running back?
CM: Right now, I’m 220, but for the season I’d like to be between 215 and 220.
GI: Do you think the fact that you have played fullback, helps you at running back?
CM: It helps a lot because I really know what the person in front of me is doing.
GI: You have a really talented fullback in front of you in Alphonso Freeney?
CM: He is a great dude. I love playing with him. He is a great blocker. He is one of the underrated fullbacks in this conference.
GI: What are some of your best memories so far of your career at Jacksonville State?
CM: My top memory would be against Tennessee State my freshman year. I scored the game winning touchdown. Also, last year beating EKU.
GI: How about going for over 100 yards against Martin last year for the first time in your career?
CM: That game was a good game. I didn’t even know I had over 100 yards until after the game. It didn’t feel like it, but they told me after the game. It felt good, I was proud of that.
GI: Against EKU, you only missed 100 years by two yards. Did you tell Coach Letson you needed one more carry?
CM: I was asking for one more, but it was [real near] the end of the game!
GI: What was it like playing with such a high profile player, like Ryan Perrilloux.
CM: Ryan was good. He was the type of player that made everybody better, that is why we came together and gelled so well last year.
GI: Do you think there will be a transition this year moving from Ryan to Ivory?
CM: It will be a different look for teams, but I would not say we were losing much because Quez is just as good as a quarterback.
GI: You averaged about 12 carries a game last year. Would you like to get some more carries this year?
CM: I’m hoping to see the ball a lot more this year now that I have my weight right. Depending on the type of offense we run I would say 18-20 carries a game.
GI: Do you consider yourself more of an inside or outside runner?
CM: As long as we get the job done it really doesn’t matter.
GI: You had quite a bit of success against Georgia Tech last year. What was the key?
CM: The offensive line. They were just creating holes. That was a good Georgia Tech defense.
GI: What stands out about the FSU game?
CM: People look at the score, 19-9 at the end. But, the game was much closer than the score. [JSU led with 53 seconds left]. I can’t even describe Florida State. It was a great game, great atmosphere. We played hard out there.
GI: What did the FSU players say to you after the game?
CM: They said it was a great game, “yall scared us.” They said: “I hate it for whoever else yall play.”
GI: What did it mean to you last year, to win the OVC on the field championship?
CM: It was a great feeling, because once we found out we couldn’t make [the playoffs] it was a lesson for us. We were out there to make sure that everyone remembered that Jacksonville State football team. We wanted to make sure everyone remembered that season. We did a good job of showing that.
GI: Does missing the playoffs last year, motivate you for this year?
CM: Most definitely, 100%.
GI: What are you working on to get better personally?
CM: My size, my speed. There is always room for improvement. I am watching more film now.
GI: You only had 6 catches last year- would you like to catch more balls this year?
CM: I would like to catch more passes next year. I’m working on that too, coming out of the backfield.
GI: Do you have good hands?
CM: Yes, I have great hands.
GI: What are the team goals for 2010?
CM: We don’t expect anything less than a national championship. We have our eyes on the prize. We are [setting our priority] on the conference first.
GI: You had a huge Spring game 21 carries for 147 yards. Any comment on that.
CM: It’s a preview of things to come. We as a team went out there to prove a message also.
GI: What is it like playing for JSU’s running back coach, Jimmy Ogle?
CM: Coach Ogle is a great person. He tries to help you to the best of his ability. He stays on you because he expects a lot out of you. He will stay on you to get good results. He is a good coach. I love playing for him. [Coach Ogle actually] played with my high school coach, Tee Martin.
GI: Tell me a little bit about [fellow running back] Jamal Young?
CM: He is like a highlight tape. They give him the ball and I’m just waiting to see what he is going to do next. He’s a perfect compliment to me with my size. With me, Jamal, Alphonso and a couple of other folks, our backfield should be pretty solid.
GI: Jamal is a tough player even though he is only 170 pounds?
CM: Yes. He brings it to everybody no matter the size.
GI: How is Richard Freelon coming along?
CM: Richard is developing well. He is going to be one of the best running backs to ever come here. I can’t wait to see what he is going to do because he is going to be a good running back. Also, we have Andrecus Lindley coming back. He [had to miss time] because he broke his hand last year. I can’t wait to get him back. He is a senior too. Drec was the #1 running back [last year] during two a days before he got hurt. He is the type of guy that is always on the sideline getting everyone fired up before the game and during the game. He is one of the leaders on this team.
GI: You go up against our defense every day, what’s that like?
CM: Our defense is tough. You know we lost Zander [Henderson] and Carnell [Clark] and a couple of other big time seniors, but I don’t see our defense having a problem with intensity this year.
GI: Who are some of the big time hitters on defense?
CM: I would have to say Monte Lewis, Morrell Jones and Kevin Dix as well.
GI: Monte Lewis really seems to have the respect of the players and coaches.
CM: He does. He is a giant, a freak [laughing]. He is a hard worker and a good teammate as well. So he has it all, the whole thing.
GI: Who would you say is the fastest player on the team?
CM: It’s a close one between A.J. Davis and Jamal Young.
GI: Are there any guys on the team that may not have received much publicity yet, but are ready to break out?
CM: Allen Bonner, he was pre-season All American at punt returner, but he is a great receiver as well. You will see a lot of him next year. We have a lot of DB’s that could step up this year in the rotation.
GI: I have heard a lot of people mention safety Robert Gray as a young guy with a lot of talent?
CM: I can’t wait to see what he does. He is going to be an impact player out there.
GI: How excited is the team about opening with Ole Miss?
CM: We can’t wait. Florida State and Georgia Tech, if you look on paper we lost. But, we know in our minds that we can play with these teams. We don’t see a problem competing.
GI: What does it mean to you being the team to debut the newly renovated stadium?
CM: It means a lot. It is a big move in our career. We [recognize] a lot of players did not [get the opportunity we have]. Then again, it puts a big target on our back. We have to give people what they want when they come, so we have to win this year.
GI: Then you go [to your home] and play against Georgia State- what’s that like for an Atlanta guy?
CM: It means a lot. It is just going to feel like another game at home. My family is going to be there.
GI: What are you looking forward to in the OVC?
CM: We look forward to all of them, but one game on our mind is the EIU game. Not only did they beat us, but they took the series lead over us. We would like to get them back for last year. And, pretty much everybody else.
GI: The EKU coach said something to the effect of JSU didn’t deserve to go to the playoffs last year, will that motivate you going into the 2010 game?
CM: That is all of the motivation that we need.
GI: What is your major?
CM: Criminal justice.
GI: Are you on track to graduate?
CM: Yes sir.
GI: Any last message you want to deliver to the Gamecock fans?
CM: Don’t expect anything less than a championship.