First Timers

When the 2015 season opened up, two freshmen - one somewhat expected, the other not expected - were in the starting offensive line lineup - true frosh Left Guard Javon Patterson and redshirt frosh Right Tackle Sean Rawlings. OL Coach Matt Luke was extremely pleased with both. Here are their thoughts.

Patterson passed up his final semester of high school to come to Ole Miss last spring.

"I gave up my last year of basketball and some other things, but I was looking to accomplish something bigger than high school sports," Javon noted. "Coming in here early and getting those 15 practices in spring helped a lot.

"One, it got me used to facing great players. Two, it helped me get over the jitters. Three, it showed me what I had to do to compete. It was rough at first, but I got used to it and then I got in the weight room to get stronger, I kept working on my technique and I got in better shape. Now, everything is good."

Good indeed.

Patterson has made himself into an important piece of and important year for the Rebel offensive line.

"My thanks go to Coach (Matt) Luke and my teammates. Ben (Still), Justin (Bell), Robert (Conyers), Aaron (Morris), L.T. (Laremy Tunsil) have all mentored me and been there to help me through the rough spots," he continued. "And the defensive linemen have helped me too - Rob (Nkemdiche), Breeland (Speaks) and Fadol Brown have all helped me with learning how DL react and think."

Put it all together and you have a guy who is ready for the rigors of the SEC, despite being barely 18. Well, almost ready.

"I've still got a lot of growing to do. I can get better every day. You can always tighten your game up. Working your steps, your hands, all the little things," He noted.

Patterson is anxious for veteran Aaron Morris to get back to 100% so the LG position will be at full strength.

"We need depth. I think Aaron and I would be a great one-two punch. When we get in our tempo game, we are all going to need a break and that's where the other one steps in," Javon closed. "It will help the team and that's what is important."

Rawlings had three words for his experience starting against UT-Martin.

"It was fun," stated the 6-5, 290-pounder. "It was really great to finally get to compete again in a game. I got to knock some rust off and I got to get a taste of what it's like. That was a lot of fun to me."

Sean got the start a little by default with Fahn Cooper, the normal starting right tackle, having to move to left tackle to take the place of Tunsil, who was sitting out due to unresolved issues with the NCAA.

But it was a start nonetheless and one accomplished after overcoming a broken arm during spring training.

"I fought back from that broken arm about the third week of summer. I was able to get my strength numbers back and get back on track," he stated. "I felt real good going into fall camp, but I knew I was going to back up Fahn this year and just hoped to get some experience."

How did he assess his play?

"There were things I could have done better, but I competed and gave great effort - that will never be a question about me," Rawlings continued. "The little stuff, technique-wise, I can fix. Those things just take time and experience, but I will get there."

Rawlings came to Ole Miss expecting to be a center, but necessity sent him to tackle,

"I was recruited as a swing man to play different positions. I played center and tackle in high school, so it's no big deal for me to switch positions," he explained. "I was groomed for this opportunity.

"I am preparing myself for anyone getting injured or whatever may come up. I want to be the guy they can rely on to come in and keep the OL producing."

When Tunsil comes back, and barring any injuries across the OL, Rawlings expects Cooper to take the RT position back over and he's OK with that - for now.

"I am learning a lot from Fahn. It's really good to be behind guys like Fahn because he is such a good mentor, absolutely," Sean noted. "If I struggle, he helps me. He's a good man and a real good teammate."

When all is said and done, Rawlings believes he will eventually end up at center.

"I think that's the course my career will take, but it doesn't matter to me. I will play anywhere on the OL. I just want to play," Rawlings closed.

At the start of spring training, there was no way to anticipate two freshmen would be starting on the OL, but here we are 4-5 months later and that's how it's panning out for now.

Fortunately, those freshmen are the quality of Javon Patterson and Sean Rawlings.


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