After declaring for the NFL draft in January, Ole Miss All-SEC Left Tackle Michael Oher had a change of heart. At the last minute, he decided to reverse fields and remain a Rebel for his senior campaign.
"I have no regrets. I never think about the NFL now. Once I made up my mind to definitely come back, there was no reason to question the decision," said Oher. "I'm glad to be here. I'm looking forward to my senior season and us being the best we can be."
And he's already reaping the benefits of his decision to return.
"Our strength coach, Coach (Don) Decker, is unbelievable. I am already benching 70 pounds more than I ever have," Oher explained. "He's getting us to stretch muscle I didn't even know I had and it's helped with my flexibility and strength."
Oher is also in excellent physical condition. After Saturday's long practice in full pads - the first pad day, Coach Houston Nutt had a sprint period. Oher led all the offensive linemen on every sprint and seemed fresh.
"I'm in the best shape of my life," said Michael. "Our offseason program was great. We got in good shape but we feel fresh at the same time."
Michael is also reaping benefits from new Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson.
"Coach Markuson will push you. I've already learned a lot of new stuff and I think the OL is already looking pretty good," he continued. "By the end of spring, we should be ready to roll."
Markuson said he can tell the Rebel OL had a good coach in Art Kehoe the year before. Now he just wants to keep adding to what they already knew and fine-tuning.
"Michael is a good athlete. He's got excellent feet and movement. Now, we just want to see a mean streak. We want him to get nasty," Markuson stated.
Oher is all for that.
"You get nasty by being nasty. It's all about confidence and knowing you are better than the guy in front of you and it's all about working harder than anyone you are facing," he explained. "That's my goal for my senior year and it starts every day in practice."
Oher likes the competition he is facing every day in practice on the Rebel defensive line.
"Coach (Tracy) Rocker is doing a great job with the defensive line. Those guys are good - Marcus Tillman, Greg Hardy, Emmanuel Stephens, Kentrell Lockett - they are all playing well. Also LaMark Armour is doing a good job," Oher said. "It's good to have that kind of competition in practice."
So, Michael, you tell us your bench press has improved 70 pounds. What is it up to?
"I'm not saying yet," he smiled. "It's a good number, but I'm not finished yet. I will tell you before August practice when I get it really right."
Michael Oher -
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