JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — Mississippi State wide receiver Malik Dear was a like a lot of college athletes coming out this year, hoping to get a shot at the NFL. But, COVID-19 would put a hopefully temporary halt to that dream.

While at Murrah, Dear was ranked one of the top athletes in the state, finishing his high school career with nearly 3,300 rushing yards and 2,400 yards receiving.

“I actually met Malik as an 8th grader in the spring going into his 9th grade season,” said former Murrah offensive coordinator Marcus Rogers. “I watched him play that fall and they went undefeated. Every team they played in junior high football they beat by 30 or 40 points and it was just the excitement that we had as a coaching staff over at Murrah High school to be gaining that kind of ability, that kind of talent, that kind of young man coming into our program.”

Dear enrolled at MSU in 2015 and made an immediate impact on the Bulldogs program, but an ACL tear during his junior year would put a damper on the rest of his career.

“It kind of messed me up because, for the simple fact that I didn’t get a lot of playing time my last few years at state and the pro day was going to be big for me,” Dear said.

With the cancellation of pro days and NFL mini camps, Dear made the decision to still stay close to the game through coaching.

He was recently named the offensive coordinator at Holmes County Central, where we will coach under Rogers, his former quarterbacks coach.

“It hasn’t even hit me yet, guys still out there calling me coach and I’m looking around like who are yall talking to,” said Dear. “I’ve only been out there three days now and y’all calling me coach, I’m definitely not used to that. We got to get used to that.”

Rogers said, “We talk about building a culture and program, expectations and things of that nature and when you can add that type of talent around your coaching staff and around your guys it brings some validity to your program.”

It’s also a decision Dear said he made for his three children.

“I really wanted to do it for them because my kids, they love football, they love watching football,” Dear said. “They love being around football. So, to be able to still be around football I think it will be good for them too, especially at practice because they can just run out there on the field.”

“I’m going to be real with you, at first it was just like I don’t know if I really want to do this or not, but once I got out there Monday, it was just like OK. This might be something I can do for the rest of my life. I think I’m starting to like more and more each and every day.”

But make no mistake, if an NFL opportunity becomes available, Dear is taking it.

“I’m gone. I’m gone. I’m out of here quick. That’s my first dream, first love. I love Coach Rogers to death, but I know he understands football is where I want to be.”