Ole Miss RG Jordan Sims was evaluated as a major player, but he had work to do

Jordan Sims is just a rising sophomore on the Ole Miss offensive line, but he has already gone beyond where he was projected to be at this stage of his career thanks to a 60-pound weight loss.

A little over two years ago, after signing day, Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze was laid back in the high back chairs in Rebel War Room looking over the list of the 2014 signees.

On that list, that ranked 18th in the nation, was one Jordan Sims, an offensive lineman from Homewood, AL. He was being shown at 6-4, 347 pounds.

Freeze shook his head.

"Jordan weighs a little more than that right now, but one thing I am certain of - if he loses down to 320 or 330 when he gets here, he will be a player for us," Freeze predicted. "He's an Army All-American and made teh All-Super State team in iAlabama. I know he's got potential, but some schools backed off because of his weight."

Freeze's remark was an understatement in regards to Sims' weight. When Jordan reported to Ole Miss, he weighed over 380 pounds and his conditioning, he later said, was "terrible."

But he listened to his coaches - Freeze and OL Coach Matt Luke on the field and S&C Coach Paul Jackson off the field, got on a strict diet, worked out hard and the pounds started peeling off and Sims' conditioning and stamina gradually started to improve.

With each milestone in weight loss, the smile on the personable Sims' face got bigger and bigger. A sense of accomplishment spurred confidence in him and his attitude soared.

After redshirting in 2014, Jordan came into 2015 as a relative unknown, but at 334 pounds a totally different Sims emerged. He didn't just pop on the scene, however, and it took an injury or two for him to get his opportunity, but when he did, he came through with flying colors.

By the end of the season, he was a stalwart at right guard as Rod Taylor nursed a dislocated shoulder.

"Jordan still has a lot to learn, but he's done a really good job in a short period of time. He's big and strong and he can move people around," said Luke. "He's just going to get better as he learns."

And learning is the goal for Sims this spring training.

"Having some experience now, there is a big difference in the speed of the game. Things have really slowed down for me," Sims noted. "It's more than just knowing my assignments. It's more about understanding the plays and knowing all the possibilities that could happen and having the experience from last year is really helping me know what to do when different situations pop up.

"Everything is more second nature to me. It's like the understanding of blitzes. The other day I picked something up and I didn't think twice about it. It just happened naturally. The more you do something, the more natural it becomes and the more you are able to execute. I've still got things to improve on, but I'm no longer overthinking the situation. I'm just playing and when I do see something new, it doesn't make me panic any more."

But back to first things first - his weight. He would not be where he is had he not lost the tonnage.

"The biggest thing I did was watch what I eat and when I eat. I try not to eat past 8 o'clock at night and don't snack any more," he noted. "I bust my butt in the weight room and burn a lot of calories off. I drink a lot of water and I have developed a lot better eating habits.

"I'm maintaining 330 pounds right now, but I think I will be able to get rid of 10 more pounds this summer. I'd like to report in August and play this season at 320 pounds. The good thing is that I have not gone backwards and put any of that dead weight back on."

In the meantime, with spring training going on, the Rebs are trying to develop some OL chemistry but without Taylor and Robert Conyers, who are sidelined for the spring while rehabbing from offseason surgeries.

"It's not hard to develop OL chemistry, really, but when all the pieces of the puzzle aren't available, it's different," he added. "We lost a lot of leadership in our room. We lost some great players, but we have a lot of young guys with a lot of potential who love to play the game. We may not have Laremy (Tunsil) back and we may not have Fahn (Cooper) back, or Justin Bell or Aaron Morris, but we have guys who want to be a good unit and will play hard for the team and for each other and guys who are going to be together for quite a while. I am excited about the future of the OL.

"I am also excited about the signees coming in. We are all going to feed off of each other and help each other any way we can."

Jordan Sims has picked up where he left off at the end of the successful 2015 season and, so far, he's making Freeze and the Ole Miss coaches who evaluated him look pretty good.

"They knew it was in there. I knew it was in there, but I just had to work hard and bring it out," Sims closed.

And he's done just that.

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