Mike the 'Mike'

Even though D.T. Shackelford is out with an injury and Clarence Jackson is now off the team, Mike Marry has faith in the young linebackers on the Rebel squad.

Sophomore Linebacker Mike Marry has an economy with words that is as direct as his route to a running back with the football in his hands.

Marry isn't uncomfortable with the process of being interviewed, he's friendly and polite, and he's an honor roll student.

Not wasting words is just his nature.

How's the offseason going?

"The whole team is working hard. I have no complaints," said Marry.

Has it been a difficult offseason?

"It's been the hardest offseason I have ever been through, but it's all worth it. I have heard no complaining at all," he continued, with coaxing.

What have you tried to accomplish in the offseason?

"I wanted to get faster and laterally quicker and put on quality weight and strength," he added.

What do you weigh now?

"250 and I put it on the right way, which was the key," Marry allowed. "It's not about what you weigh, it's about what you weigh being the right kind of weight. Muscle. I'm a lot stronger than I was when I got here."

Finally, when asked what has made the offseason harder, Mike - for him - rattled on a bit.

Mike Marry
File Photo
"Coach (Don) Decker sets a standard for us that is daily and he holds you to that standard. There is no dropping below it," Marry stated. "He knows that sometimes we come in the weight room and our body is tired, but he's still going to hold us to that standard.

"We do everything the right way, from the little things like stretching to the big things, like proper technique in the power cleans. No matter what it is, we are held to that standard, not only day-to-day, but rep to rep. It pays off in the long run."

Two paragraphs between questions is not the norm for the softspoken Marry, but you can feel his intensity and passion as he speaks, especially when the focus is on the team and not him individually.

When D.T. Shackelford went down with a knee injury in spring, Mike's dynamic within the team changed.

"Everything changed when D.T. got injured," he continued. "D.T. brings a lot of energy to everyone, and he's still doing that while he rehabs, but we realized one person was not going to replace his leadership on the field. We all have to chip in, we all have to come together and we all have to work hard and play at the same high level.

"It was hard losing him because he's a good person on and off the field. Not having him right there pushing us through the drills while he's giving everything he has was a shock to us at first. He's an inspiration to me because he's in the weight room with us every day while he rehabs and he's actually gotten stronger in his upper body. He's amazing."

When Shack did go down, Marry felt a need to step up with his leadership.

"We are a young group and we all have to step up," Mike noted. "I'm not very vocal, but I can lead by example. Joel Kight has gotten more vocal and his nature is to lead by example. We've all had to step up. We can't wait on D.T. to do it for us, even though he's still in there trying to be vocal and push us."

Mike started out at outside linebacker when he came to Ole Miss but was moved to the middle for spring ball. After D.T.'s injury, Mike was moved outside to Shack's slot and Ralph Williams moved up to first team MLB.

"I expect to end up back in the middle in the fall, but it really doesn't matter to me. I want to do whatever is best for the team, position is not that important," he said. "I do like the middle but I will play wherever the coaches want me."

Mike Marry
File Photo
It's likely the main Rebel LBs this fall will be Marry, Kight, Williams, journeyman Rudy Wilson and a couple of freshmen, most notably C.J. Johnson.

"We are very young, so we will have to be that much more focused, put in that much more work and play that much more harder," Mike allowed. "We've got a lot of responsibility and we have to deliver.

"We're going to have young and different defensive tackles this year as well. They are strong and active. I think they are going to do well because they are athletic and work hard. Those are two big ingredients."

Marry believes the Rebels are going to surprise a lot of people this year.

"There's a different vibe around here now. We are very close as a team and everyone is working hard," he closed. "We do things off the field together and we didn't do that much last year.

"We didn't have a bad vibe last year, but we seem closer this year. We have better chemistry this year and I think that will pay off."

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