Ole Miss Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson knew it all along, but he didn't think it was his place to tell.
'It' happens to be junior Right Tackle John Jerry's revelation that he will return to Ole Miss for his senior season.
"John's done good this year," said Markuson. "Of course we're excited to have him back. He's really improved over the season.
"He's done some great things this year. John was, at times, a very physical guy and his pass protection got better. I was skeptical in the spring because he didn't practice much, but he came back strong. John has a lot of football in front of him. He has a bright future if he keeps it going, that's for sure."
Mike is now looking for the next step from Jerry and there is no better proving ground than John's senior season in 2009.
"John is not to the point where people fear him. We want him to be that way," Markuson noted. "I want him to be able to dominate guys, and I think he can do that.
"At times this year, he caved the whole left side of the defensive line down. At times, he did things exceptionally well. We think he's a guy who can do that all the time."
There has been speculation that Jerry may be moved to the left tackle slot to replace graduating Michael Oher next year, but Markuson says, while it's possible, it's unlikely.
"We'll see how spring develops, but I think Bradley (Sowell) is doing a good job at left tackle and I think it might be difficult for John to make the switch since he's only played tackle one year," Mike stated. "Brad's got a lot of reps invested in LT and we have Rishaw Johnson who might be a candidate for LT if things don't go well in spring.
"Mainly, however, it's a wait and see deal."
Another first-year starter in 2008 has been junior Center Daverin Geralds.
"If you go from spring to now, his improvement is off the charts. Daverin is such a team guy and hard worker," said Mike. "He never complains and he keeps his nose to the grindstone. He's a smart guy, good in school. He's assignment sound for himself and for the whole offensive line. He understands the scheme. Daverin is a math major with a GPA over 3.0. He understands not only how many are in the box, he understands the different configurations - that's where it gets difficult. He grasps all that.
"Daverin also has some fire. He can get emotional."
The first two weeks of bowl practice, all the coaches spent a lot of time with the younger players in full contact work.
"The great thing about being in a bowl is all the extra work you can get in. With our young kids up front, it's a toughness deal. We run middle drills that are basically here-we-come and the defense knows it's coming. It's about toughness, straining your body, playing low - it's great work for the young guys," he explained.
Markuson said one player has jumped out at him in the bowl practices - Rishaw Johnson.
"He's doing very well. He's a very talented young man who can play several positions," noted Markuson. "I also worked Mark Jean-Louis to center a little to see if that would work. They are all working hard."
Mike Markuson -
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