Rommel Mageo

MLB Rommel Mageo is slowly making progress

Graduate transfer Rommel Mageo was brought in to plug a hole in the Rebel defense at middle linebacker for a year and now he's starting to do that.

Through two games, three of the top four tacklers on the Ole Miss football team are linebackers - Terry Caldwell, DeMarquis Gates and Mageo, who got his first start against Wofford in the Rebs' win last Saturday.

When the defense is functioning properly, that's how it is supposed to be - the linebackers getting the bulk of the tackles. From taht standpoint, so far, so good.

Now, however, the challenge, with due respect to Florida State, gets even more difficult as No. 1-ranked Alabama invades Oxford this weekend for a 2:30 p.m. clash with the Rebels.

Mageo can't wait.

"I'm excited. This type of game is why I came here. I looked at the schedule for this year when I was deciding where to go and saw all these challenges and I said that's for me," he explained. "I'm not going to prepare any differently than I prepare for any game, but I know this is the number one team in the nation and I know we all have to bring our A-game into it."

Mageo, a man with an economy of words, said he's still in the process of getting into the swing of things in the Rebel defensive scheme, but he's getting more and more comfortable each day.

"It's been slower getting there than I wanted, and I still have work to do, but I'm making progress," he noted. "I'm a pretty hard critic of myself, so when you ask what I need to improve on, the only answer is everything. Assignment, alignment, everything that goes into the game of football."

One transition has been getting acclimated to the 4-2-5 after playing in the 3-4 at Oregon State last season, but he does have some familiarity with the Rebel defense.

"My freshman year at Oregon State, we ran a similar defense to what we run here now," he stated. "I'm tuned in now in terms of knowing my assignments and checks and all the terminology, but it took time."

Mageo has been studying film on the Tide and knows what to expect.

"They remind me a lot of Stanford in the Pac 12," he said. "They are physical and disciplined. The Stanford offensive line is like that. Alabama runs the ball right at you and they throw a lot of deep balls. They have big running backs who can run around you or probably through you if you aren't tuned in. We have to hit them as hard as they hit us, or harder.

"Their young quarterback, we have to take his confidence away. We have to hit him and rattle him and get to him."

Mageo believes Ole Miss is up to the task for a lot of reasons, but the main one is who he and the other back seven are playing behind.

"With all due respect to the defensive linemen at Oregon State, the d-line here is amazing," he closed. "Playing behind these guys, it's a guaranteed 100-plus tackles in a season for a linebacker because they keep blockers off of us. This is a lot of fun playing behind them."

Mageo was not a major part of the gameplan against FSU, but he figures to be against Bama.

He says he will be ready.

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