Coach's View: Armani Linton

Who knows a player's attributes better than his high school coach? Nobody. Between now and signing day, we will attempt to talk to every committed player's coach and get their perspective on their future Rebel. Today, Walnut Coach John Meeks discusses Armani Linton.

When did Walnut Coach John Meeks realize Ole Miss commitment Armani Linton had a chance to be special? A long time ago. . .

"He moved here from Chicago in the seventh grade and was ineligible until the eighth grade. On his first carry, he went 70 yards for a touchdown," said Meeks.

Meeks used many descriptive words to characterize Linton, the 6-3, 198-pounder who is projected to play safety for the Rebels.

But the word he kept coming back to most was "mature."

"Armani is mature beyond his years," said Meeks, who has been coaching at Walnut for 13 years, the last three as the head coach. "He carries himself well, is very articulate and he thinks things through before acting.

"He's a great kid with a wonderful personality and is a natural leader."

Meeks, who was a scout team tailback for the Rebels from 1997-2001, believes intelligence is one of Linton's best qualities.

"He's as smart as he wants to be. He's a B student here in AP courses and is fully qualified. I think his grades would be higher, but he's a kid who needs to be challenged. In some respects, I don't think high school challenges him academically," Meeks, who led his team to a 9-3 record in the AA division, stated. "I think he is more challenged in athletics and that's why he excels."

Linton is a starter on the Walnut basketball team, a starter in baseball and won the AA state title in the triple jump, but where he really showed up was on the gridiron.

"He did everything for us but drive the bus," Meeks laughed. "He played tailback, tight end, quarterback, cornerback, linebacker, wide receiver and he punted and kicked off. Wherever we needed Armani, that's where we would play him and he always delivered."

Delivered indeed.

"Armani rushed for 1543 yards on 204 carries his senior year. He scored 23 touchdowns and 16 2-point conversions. He caught 15 passes for 142 yards," Meeks continued. "On defense, he had 50 tackles, two interceptions, forced two fumbles and recovered one."

Having butted heads with SEC players during his own college tenure, Meeks feels he can evaluate Linton's potential on the next level.

"He's got all the qualities college coaches look for," Meeks noted. "He's fast, very smart, he catches on quickly and he seems to think one step ahead of where most kids are mentally.

"He's quick and explosive, but deceptively so because he's such a smooth athlete."

Meeks, however, is not claiming Linton is a finished product.

"At a small school like Walnut, there's me and one other coach," he explained. "Because of that, Armani is still raw. When he starts getting more individual attention, learns technique and gets used to the speed of that game on that level, he will blossom.

"Armani has been to a lot of big summer camps and always held his own, but he's got so much more to learn. He also needs to attack the weight room. He can hold 15 more pounds easily and needs to be stronger on the SEC level, but he certainly has the frame for that. I think he has a big ceiling once he gets in Ole Miss' program."

Meeks believes Linton's future, as he is projected by scouts and coaches alike, is at safety.

"That position fits him well. He wants to be on the back end of the defense leading the secondary and directing traffic. That's a role he relishes," Meeks closed. "That's all a part of his maturity level. He will not shirk from that challenge and responsibility."

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