‘I fit in perfectly’

DeMarkus Lodge wasn’t too nervous when the lights and cameras came on for his Signing Day announcement on ESPNU for all the world to see.

And when it was all over and he had announced for Ole Miss, he was actually so comfortable he gave a “Hotty Toddy” to the crowd.

“I enjoyed it actually,” said the five-star wide receiver from Cedar Hill, Texas, and one of the nation’s top high school playmakers. “It was a little confusing at first, because I had on a mic on and all that. But I got used to it. It was a fun experience.”

Fun for Lodge, and kind of funny to those gathered. At least for a few moments.

“Everyone thought I was up there talking to myself,” he said, “because I was answering questions through my headphones. So everybody thought that was pretty funny.”

His recruiting trip to Ole Miss the weekend of Jan. 23 was serious but fun. It was everything he thought and hoped it would be.

“When I went down there, everything was perfect. Guys treated me like I was their brothers and teammate the whole time,” he said. “The coaching staff is a great coaching staff, and they’re going to grow me and develop to be a young successful man on and off the field. It was just awesome.”

Lodge had options. He was recruited nationally and could have gone to practically any school in the country looking for a significant playmaker at the receiver position.

But he thought Ole Miss was the place for him, and he became one of the marquee signees of 2015. He chose the Rebels over his other finalists, Texas and Texas A&M.

“I think I fit in perfectly,” he said of the Rebels’ offense. “They’re going to run the ball but they’re also going to throw the ball a bunch. They’re going to get the ball in their playmakers’ hands. They have a big target right now, Laquon Treadwell, and once he leaves they’re not going to have that guy. I think I can step in and play that role he’s playing now.”

A couple of key factors entered into his decision, including junior Ole Miss wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, a former Cedar Hill High School teammate.

“Me and Quincy, we’ve got a great relationship. He’s like a brother,” Lodge said. “He guided me all through my high school. He’s always been helpful. He’s always been there for me, and I know he’s always going to be there for me. It will be great being reunited with him.”

The other factor? Lodge lived as a youth in Mississippi and has family here.

“It really wasn’t that important, but then again it was because I wanted my mom and my family to come see me play,” he said. “And they’re right down the road. It’s just a blessing to have this opportunity to do this at Ole Miss.”

Adeboyejo and Treadwell were influential in his decision. He listened to them.

“Actually I talked to Laquon Treadwell more than I talked to anybody at Ole Miss right now,” Lodge said. “He’s telling me straight up what it is and what it’s going to be like. They’ve got some guys who can make plays. I can step in and be that guy for them.”

Lodge knows that while he is still in high school this spring, there will be a battle for quarterback at Ole Miss to replace Bo Wallace. Ryan Buchanan, DeVante Kincade and Chad Kelly are all in the mix. He looks forward to keeping up from afar.

“I got to meet Chad (on his visit). He’s a great guy,” Lodge said. “I saw him throw. He can rip it. They’re all going to get the ball, and they (coaches) will have to choose. But all of them are going to get the ball. I know Kincade. He went to Dallas Skyline. I used to throw with him a lot. I used to see him around town. I’ve got a great relationship with most of those guys, so that’s good.”

Ole Miss was ultimately the choice for Lodge. But, as previously noted, he also considered other schools, especially Texas A&M.

“It was down to the wire with Ole Miss and A&M,” he said. “Going to play with Kyler Murray (Aggie quarterback signee from Allen, Texas) was always what I said I was going to do. But I had to realize I had to make this decision for me and not for anyone else.

“So it’s great. It’s a blessing. Now I can focus on getting that workout in for that program. Get that playbook down. Then go in and do what I do.”

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