'I am proud to be an Ole Miss Rebel'

Chris Strong (LB, South Panola, MS) - Ole Miss' most decorated recruit was in town for his official visit last weekend.

Friday was an emotional time for Chris.

"A good friend of mine died late Thursday, so I had to attend his funeral late Friday night. I did not get into town until Saturday morning, around 10:30 am," added Chris Strong. "I needed to get in the right frame of mind before I came over there. He was a good friend, good friend."

Chris' host was his cousin, former teammate, and good friend, Jamarca Sanford.

"We are almost like brothers. I have always looked up to Jamarca. He just showed me around town so I could get familiar with everything. We looked around the education center and then we went through what game day was all about."

The USA Today All-American selection came away impressed with the simulation for game day.

"I did not know it was like that. It was a great feeling. I have never been that fired up before, and we were not even playing in a game. I can not imagine what it is like when it is for real."

The highlight from the trip came when Coach Orgeron gave him a message.

"He said I started this class because I was the first one that committed in '07. That made me feel real good."

The players at Ole Miss were also a positive.

"I feel like I am already a part of the team. I feel like I fit in real good with them."

Strong had a chance to build a relationship with Joe McKnight during the Army All-American game, but he left the recruiting part aside.

"We just talked. I told him that it is his choice, and he needs to go with his heart. We were on the same team at the Army game. I just think we are real cool whether he comes or not. He can help the team get better, and he knows that, but he has to do what is best for Joe. We talk a lot on the phone now. We are going to be brothers no matter what."

The 6' 3", 260 pounder watched film with the LB group during the film session Saturday.

"I see it is at a different speed. I have to get quicker. I need to work on my footwork and become more powerful. I want to lose 30 pounds before I get there."

Chris played the defensive end position at the Army All-American game, which was new to him, but that did not seem to slow Scout.com's # 3 nationally rated SLB.

"It was fun playing end, but I like playing linebacker better. We couldn't blitz at the game so we just rushed up the field. I can play anywhere though, linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle, fullback, it don't matter to me."

What did Strong take away from the Army All-American experience?

"Well, it was a good experience. I had fun playing with the best players in the country and showing them that Mississippi still has the talent to not only compete against them, but to excel. I just did what I had to do to show them what South Panola and Mississippi is all about."

Chris had a good one on one meeting with Coach Orgeron before he left.

"It went really good, really good. He just told me how proud of me he was for pulling my grades up to where I am close to being a qualifier now. He told me to keep it up, and that I could always remember being the one who got this class going by being the first one to commit."

Strong has stayed rock solid with his commitment from day one and this visit did nothing to change his status.

"This visit even made me feel more comfortable about my commitment. The way they talked more about your education than football really caught my attention. They want you to get your degree first, then football comes second. I am just proud to be an Ole Miss Rebel."

Jr Season
Sr Season Clarksdale
SR Season Olive Branch
Army All-American interview -

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