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August 18, 2011Not many people believed Chris Relf had what it takes to cut it in the Southeastern Conference as a quarterback in 2007.
The former two-star recruit out of Carver High School in Montgomery, Ala., had only one offer from the Bulldogs. Fast forward five years and Relf returns as the most experienced signal caller in the entire SEC.
"I knew I would be in the spot because I work hard," Relf said. "I've been up here five years and it's a lot of hard work. It took a lot of hard work to get to where I am now."
As a first year starter, Relf guided MSU to a 9-4 record throwing for 1,789 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions as well as gaining 713 yards on the ground and five more scores.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder improved his passing over the final three games of 2010 completing 51-of-73 passing for 793 yards, six touchdowns and only two interceptions. Relf continued his progression this summer working with the wide receivers three times a week.
"I'm just working on my throwing game more every day," Relf said. "Three times a week I'd work with the wide receivers just trying to get better at my throwing game, my quickness and my ability to throw the ball."
That work has continued throughout fall camp as Relf has established himself as the unquestioned starter.
"Camp is going pretty good," Relf said. "We're just working on executing plays, coming out there working hard trying to get the mental part of the game down with all the younger guys. A lot of them are stepping up. I'm just out there trying to work hard."
Relf has appeared in 25 career games for the Bulldogs earning all 13 starts a year ago. He has complted 56.7-percent of his passes for 2,085 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while picking up another 1,200 yards on the ground and seven more scores.
Not bad for a guy many expected to never play quarterback in college.
"I think it's worked out pretty well," Relf said. "It's been a lot of hard work along the way. When I came out of high school everything was so fast up here. Now it's slowed down to my pace."
Relf has an opportunity to go down in the record books as one of the all-time great quarterbacks in school history. While that would be great in Relf's mind, his focus is continuing to move State's program in a positive direction.
"Right now I'm just stressing on winning," Relf said. "As a quarterback, I just want to win at Mississippi State. We've been down for so long and our goal is to just win every game that we play this year."
Relf's time in Starkville is winding down. He has only two classes remaining to graduate in December and is contemplating attending graduate school. He understands that he is nearing the end of his career in maroon and white and wants to leave his mark on the program for years to come.
"It's hitting me real quick," Relf said. "It's my last year and I want to do everything I possibly can to win. I'm just going out there trying to lead the guys every day and accomplish something that I've never accomplished."