Ahead of the Game

Laremy Tunsil said he hears from the people back home in Florida from time to time.

He took some good-natured ribbing after he chose Ole Miss, mainly in the form of “Why?”

He’s still hearing from folks back home, but now it has a little different sound to it.

“Being from Florida, I took a lot of criticism,” said the former 5-star recruit and the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country as a high school senior by most services. “Being on the top right now you get band wagons from back home. Talking about Ole Miss this and Ole Miss that.”

Before he got here as a freshman last season, Tunsil was talking about Ole Miss this and Ole Miss that. He was a part of a special recruiting class in February, 2013, that was ranked among the best in the country.

The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Tunsil said he knew this group was going to help the Rebels do big things.

“I feel being No. 3 in the nation, I told everybody we were going to do something special,” said the Lake City, Fla., and Columbia High School product. “This is special.”

And it’s happened quicker than Tunsil thought it would, as the Rebels stand 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference.

“I didn’t think it would happen this fast,” he said. “I thought it would happen my junior year, to be honest.”

So why has it happened this fast? Tunsil was quick with a short but direct answer.

“It’s just all God’s plan.”

Tunsil said he follows that plan and doesn’t pay much attention to rankings and such. It’s only halfway thorough the season, and he knows there is a lot of football left to play.

"I don’t, actually,” he said of keeping up with rankings each week. “I listen to it on ESPN. Then turn it off and get ready for the next practice.”

But doesn’t it mean a whole lot, Tunsil was asked, that the Rebels are currently everybody’s No. 3 team in all the land?

“No,” he said. “We’re not No. 1, so it don’t mean nothin'.”

Ole Miss has a chance to take over the top spot in the SEC this weekend. The Rebels are tied with arch-rival Mississippi State, also 6-0 and 3-0. But State’s got an open date, and Ole Miss hosts Tennessee.

Tunsil said the Volunteers pose another strong conference challenge for the Rebels. They’re front seven on defense, which he and his offensive line mates will face off against at 6 p.m. Saturday, is strong.

“They’re good,” Tunsil said. “Every front seven I’ve seen has been pretty good. (Tennessee’s) is athletic. The two linebackers, they play downhill really fast."

Tunsil was named Offensive Lineman of the Week in the SEC last season after a game against Arkansas. He’s still waiting for that to happen again this season, but it isn’t on his mind.

“No, it doesn’t bother me at all,” said Tunsil, who was All-SEC last season as a true freshman and earned first-team Freshman All-America honors. “I just keep working every week. Hopefully I’ll get it one of these weeks though. I don’t really know how I won it last year.”

Just like he is doing this year. Taking it one practice at a time and one game at a time.

The honors will come. So will the wins.

They actually already are, even sooner than Laremy Tunsil thought when he first arrived at Ole Miss.


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