Maurice Miller has a "trademark."
The 6-4, 330-pound Rebel offensive lineman is prematurely grey, more pepper than salt, but grey nonetheless.
"Some people have said I need to color my hair, but I can't do that - nobody would know me," joked Maurice. "It's my trademark."
But his hair did not turn from worrying about football. In that arena, he is quite secure even though he is going through another position change.
Miller, the starting right tackle for most of the last two seasons, was "flipped" with last year's RG John Jerry. Mo went inside to RG and Baby J. moved to RT.
He likes the switch back to his original college position.
"I know if I ever do get the chance to play at the next level, I would probably be a guard," he said. "I loved tackle and I love guard. I am now a more confident OG because I know if I can handle those speed rushers on the island in space, I'm pretty sure I can handle myself in the pocket with a defensive tackle."
There is one issue he will have to deal with concerning the position change. OL Coach Mike Markuson likes to employ pulling and trapping guards sometimes, something Mo hasn't done much of.
"I didn't get a chance to be exposed to pulling and trapping like I wanted to in spring, but I think I can handle it when camp rolls around," he stated. "I just have to work hard and pick up the techniques Coach Markuson will teach me."
Coming out of spring training, Maurice had two goals. One he's been battling since he arrived at Ole Miss four years ago. The other, a mindset.
"After spring, I realized I have to become a more physical player. All of us on the OL do. I think conditioning will take care of some of that, but it's also a state of mind. We need to be more physical from the first snap to the last," he explained. "Also, I came back from Christmas break way too heavy, something I have fought my whole career.
"Essentially, I let myself down and I let my team down by being nearly 370 pounds, but I made up my mind to do something about it. I am 330 now and my goal is to be 320 by the time camp starts in a couple of weeks. When offseason started I was pitiful. I couldn't make any of my runs and my asthma came back. I was having to use an inhaler to get through anything. Now I am a different person and player. I have no breathing problems and I'm making all my runs."
What does the weight loss mean to Maurice? A lot, as you would suspect.
"When I'm lighter, it means I'm in shape. When I'm in shape, I can move better. When I move better, I present more problems for defensive linemen because I'm coming at them faster," he smiled.
Mo has high hopes for the offensive line in 2008.
"Getting Michael (Oher) back was big for us. I would have been proud for him no matter what he chose, but now there are most of us back together one more time," Maurice stated. "We have experience and we are excited about the year and being a unit again."
While he expects his switch and Jerry's switch to be relatively smooth, there will be a big adjustment for John, who has never played tackle before and missed most of spring training due to an illness.
"The biggest thing is him being able to handle the speed of the players he will be facing, but I am very confident he will be able to. John is one of our better athletes and he can move," Miller assessed. "He will also have to learn how to recognize the different outside pressure moves he will face and recognize blitzes and things like that.
"He'll see speed rushers, power rushers and some guys who can do both. It's a weekly adjustment but he can handle it. The difference in his move to tackle and my move to tackle a year and a half ago is that he will have more time to adjust. I was thrown in to playing tackle midseson due to two injuries. John will get more time to prepare, which will help him a lot."
Miller enters his final season as a Rebel with high hopes for himself and the team.
He doesn't expect to get more grey hairs any time soon.
Mo Miller update -
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