Leader of the Pack

HOOVER, Ala. -- A starter for 24 games the last two years at left tackle for the Ole Miss Rebels, Bradley Sowell was voted first team All-SEC by the media on Friday.

From talking with him, though, it's pretty obvious his goals aren't set on individual awards, but on helping the Rebels get back to the postseason in his final year in Oxford.

To do that Coach Houston Nutt's team will likely have to win the state battle first, meaning a win over Mississippi State. With two consecutive losses to their rival, Sowell said that's a game that is always important and he feels like the Rebels are on the right track to get back on top in the series.

"It's important to a lot of fans and it's important to us as well," Sowell said. "It's just like any other game, you want to win it. I feel like we've already won Mississippi in recruiting and that's step one. We got most of the talent in Mississippi. You want to win the game, but you want to win all of the rest of them too."

Leading the charge for Ole Miss will be Sowell and a talented offensive line. Joined by Bobby Massie at right tackle and A.J. Hawkins at center, the biggest questions could come at guard but Sowell said this spring things came together very well with two very big and physical players working their way to the top at guard.

"We can of set in and found our lineup with Matt Hall and Tank (Alex Washington) on the left," Sowell said. "Tank has played a lot and Matt is going to be a newer guy. We have gelled well and have our five together.

"He (Hall) is a physical specimen," he added. "He's about 6-10, 350 of solid muscle. He has a little nasty to him. That's what is good about him. It's good for us as well. He's going to pulling for us. He's a big guy and is going to swallow people up."

Entering his senior year with 2,132 career rushing yards, 23 rushing touchdowns and 28 overall touchdowns, talented tailback Brandon Bolden will be the focus of an offense that will be breaking in a new quarterback and several new receivers in 2011. Sowell said because of that it's up to the offensive line to carry things especially early in the season.

"It always starts up front," Sowell said. "We have some younger receivers and a new quarterback. That's a big deal. We have to make sure we protect him and keep him from getting hit."

Now just days away from opening his final fall practice at Ole Miss, Sowell said he's looking forward to what he thinks is going to be a good year for the Rebels. Just how good will be determined in late November in Starkville.

"It's a big deal," Sowell said of the MSU game. "In my career we haven't been real successful with Mississippi State, which is surprising with some of the teams we've had. You want to win that game. It's the last game of the year and the Egg Bowl. With two-straight losses to them that usually doesn't happen. You want to win that one for sure."

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