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Senior safety Jaquarius Landrews leads Mississippi State and is tied for fourth in the Southeastern Conference with 24 tackles.

STARKVILLE Junior college players are usually counted on to play right away and rarely redshirt.

Former Copiah-Lincoln Community College safety Jaquarius Landrews arrived at Mississippi State in January 2017 looking to make an immediate impact. However, Landrews ultimately redshirted his first season with the Bulldogs and is glad he did in hindsight.

“I’m thankful because – just say that I didn’t get redshirted, I’d have been with Johnathan Abram and Mark McLaurin and they were pretty good guys and I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity that I have now,” Landrews said. “Redshirting was the best thing that ever happened to me. I know the game a little more and it’s slowed down for me. It’s a blessing to be redshirted. Some people look at it as a bad thing but it was a good thing.”

Landrews is now a full-time starter for MSU and currently leads the team, and is tied for fourth in the Southeastern Conference, with 24 tackles through three games. He had a career-high nine stops and a half-tackle for loss last week against Kansas State.

This isn’t the first starting experience for the 6-foot, 200-pounder from Summit. Landrews started against Auburn, Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech last season due to injuries in the secondary, but missed the final three games of the regular season himself with a high ankle sprain.

“It was really heartbreaking to go down with the injury but I really can’t do anything about it,” Landrews said. “It was obvious that God had something else planned for me at the moment. It feels good to be back out here. It made me more humble and I work harder everyday. I’m just thankful to be back out there.”

Those injuries may have been a setback for the Bulldogs last season but have helped strengthen the safety group this year. In addition to Landrews’ three starts, Brian Cole drew four starts and C.J. Morgan got the nod three times in 2018. Now all three starting for State this fall.

“It’s crazy because all of us are back there now,” Landrews said. “I’m at strong, C.J.’s at free and Brian is at nickel. It was great that everybody got the opportunity to play because now we’re not thinking so hard and are able to know where we’re supposed to be, we know the plays and the system.”

Landrews was initially committed to the Bulldogs but backed out of his pledge and flipped to Minnesota. He remained committed to the Gophers until the eve of national signing day when he had a sudden change of heart.

“I have no clue what would’ve happened if I had ended up there, no clue,” Landrews said. “It was kind of hard growing up so I realized that my grandmother wouldn’t be able to come up and see me if I was all the way up in Minnesota. I just wanted to stay home and why not play for Hail State?”

Landrews graduated back in December and is currently working towards a master’s degree in workforce leadership education.

“I’m taking advantage of being here,” Landrews said. “I want to be able to coach but if I don’t coach, I want to invest in real estate. My cousin is a real estate agent and he puts me on game. If I invest my money right things will go well.”

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

Twitter: @loganlowery

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