One M(Oher) Year

Michael Oher sought advice from many people while making his decision whether or not to enter the NFL Draft, and the best bit may have come from the person that has been in his shoes before – friend and former teammate Patrick Willis.

Oher had decided on Monday to forego his senior season and enter the Draft but between then and Wednesday, the offensive tackle heard that Willis wanted to chat about the decision.

"Somebody told me he wanted to talk, so I called him," Oher said. "From Monday to Wednesday I was out of here, and then on Wednesday, I talked to him a little bit and started thinking. It felt like the right thing to come back, give it another shot.

"He told me I would be all right if I came out, and that I was one of the best out there, but if I came back, I'd have a chance to be a top-10, top-5 guy. I listened to him. He played a role in it."

Willis was in a similar situation after his junior season and was projected as a second or third round pick in 2005. However, the linebacker came back to school and upped his stock considerably before the San Francisco 49ers chose Willis with the 11th overall pick worth a $16.7 million contract. He has also made the most of it, as he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year this past season.

Oher's predictions were a little higher than Willis' from an underclassman standpoint. Todd McShay of Scouts Inc., projected Oher as a first or second round pick if he had come out early. McShay lists his biggest pro as a combination of size feet and strength, while his biggest con is unpolished technique.

It seems like Oher may realize the technique question mark as well.

"I can get stronger and work on better technique. I was working out with Peyton Hillis and Marcus Monk. They told me how great Coach (Mike) Markuson was. He can get people right, and I look forward to working with him."

Oher had spent time with the former Arkansas players while training for the Draft in Nashville at the D1 Sports Complex. Even with him coming back, the trip was beneficial. Oher dropped from 334 pounds to 317.

The decision also stemmed from some unfinished business at Ole Miss. Oher cites the lack of winning during his three seasons as a reason to stay.

"It is very important to come back and win games," Oher said. "I have never won more than four. We have a great group of guys. We can get the job done with a good coach.

"I haven't given the fans what they wanted. It is kind of disappointing to let people down. I want to win and be able to stick my chest out a little bit."

Oher said that he felt like he was being recruited for a second time, as Houston Nutt would get in touch with him two or three times a day while he was attempting to make a decision.

"He is a good guy, and I like him a lot already," Oher said of Nutt.

The head coach is excited but so are the players. Oher mentioned everyone was really happy to see him in class and that the reaction "felt really good."

"All my teammates are happy I'm back. Tony Fein chased me down walking to class and gave me a hug," Oher noted.

Oher was going to the NFL from Monday to Wednesday but changed his mind. The uncertainty was straining in the days before a final decision was made, but the athletic tackle had a moment when he knew it was the correct call.

"When I touched down back in Oxford, I felt comfortable and like I was back at home. It felt good to sleep in my bed again."

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