Checking Things Out

Mark Dodson came down to Oxford from Memphis this weekend for a couple of reasons. He'd already committed to Ole Miss football, so that wasn't one.

He wanted to see how things were going at practice. And he wanted to try to recruit a fellow member of the Class of 2013 to come to Ole Miss. That's Jalen Reeves-Maybin of Clarksville, Tenn.

They've known each other a while. They've played on 7-on-7 teams together and attended camps. There is a bond. Dodson wants it to be solidified by both playing for Ole Miss.

"My visit was good," said the 5-foot-9, 175-pound running back. "Just trying to get Jalen locked in. Let him know what it's about. I'm working on it pretty hard. I want him to be my roommate when I come down there."

So they took it all in together this weekend on unofficial visits. Reeves-Maybin is set to announce Friday afternoon. He says it's among Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, and Louisville.

Dodson admitted he feels like he's done a good job encouraging his friend to join him as the Rebels rebuild the program. And he said he liked what he saw.

"Practice looked good. Tempo looked good," Dodson said. "Defense's a little ahead of the offense right now. But the offense is trying to pick up the offensive line schemes."

He saw at least one area where more depth is needed.

"They sure do need help at running backs right now," he said.

He wants to be one of those players to come in and help out soon. He likes what he sees in Coach Hugh Freeze.

"I love the program. I love Coach Freeze. He's got faith he's going to turn the program back around," Dodson said. "He's got faith in his guys. His energy level is based around the coaches and they give that to the players. I like that."

Dodson and Whitehaven are getting close to playing their first game of 2012. Dodson said he's ready.

"We're two weeks in to practice," he said. "We play our first game next Saturday at 8 p.m. against Hillcrest. I'm ready to lead my team back to a state championship this year. And come out with a different outcome this year. That's my team goal, to win the state championship."

There's a personal goal he also would like to achieve.

"My individual goal is to break Curtis Alexander's (school) record," Dodson said of the former WHS and Alabama running back. "He had 71 career (high school) touchdowns. Right now I'm at 50. Twenty-one would tie it; 22 would break it."

Dodson is glad to have his own recruitment over and his commitment solid. He said he can now focus all his efforts on his final season of high school.

"I feel good and I feel confident also," he said of his verbal to the Rebels. "Growing up, I've been playing a lot since I was in ninth grade. I saw guys in 12th grade worry about where they were going throughout the season. I wanted to have mine over, because sometimes that can throw you off your game."

And Dodson wants to for sure stay on his game. When he gets to Ole Miss, he believes he will be familiar with the offense and can step right in.

"It's like the same kind of offense we run at our high school," he said. "So to me it's just different hand signs to learn, and different names, and the speed of the game. Because I'm used to playing in this type offense. It's a run-pass, pass-run offense. You could go either way or vice versa. The quarterback's got multiple decisions to make when the ball is snapped. When the ball is in his hands, he can run, he can hand it off to the back, he can throw it to the back or throw it to the receiver."

Dodson said it keeps a defense off balance.

"At the end of the day, (the defense) can't be doing all that blitzing," he said. "Because either way you go, you could get caught up in it."

Dodson plans to be back in Oxford next month.

"I'm going to take my official visit when they play Texas," he said.

And he also added his opinion on the future of Rebel football, which includes himself beginning in 2013.

"Ole Miss is going to rise," he said, "so everybody better beware."

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