Steady Emergence

It's a mixed bag of sorts. When asking around the Ole Miss practice fields, the initial evaluations of freshman wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan are anywhere from soon-to-be contributor, to a raw specimen in need of some extra offseason attention.

At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, he's well sized for his position. However, he's not considered a leaper. The general consensus says Logan has good hands, but he's still unpolished in other areas of his game.

And yet, while the Houston, Texas native has yet to carve a niche in the Ole Miss receiving corps, Logan is receiving rave reviews in the midway portions of Cotton Bowl practices. There are reports of acrobatic catches and continual praise of his tireless work ethic on an almost every day basis.

Suffice to say, the former three-star standout is working his way into heavy consideration for playing time come the 2010 season.

"I get to work with him a lot individually," wide receivers coach Ron Dickerson said of Logan. "With the bowl practices, he's been working with the ones, so I've been able to see some of the things he's been able to do. The defense says he's doing really well when emulating some of the good receivers we'll have to go against (in the Cotton Bowl). That's a plus. He has nowhere to go but up."

As a senior at Westfield High School, Logan hauled in 40 catches for 793 yards and 12 touchdowns. His production certainly caught the eye of a number of prospective colleges, including Cotton Bowl foes Ole Miss and Oklahoma State.

But unlike fellow 2009 signee Pat Patterson, Logan arrived in Oxford a bit under the radar. He failed to see the field at any point in the regular season, leading to a redshirt.

So who is Ja-Mes Logan?

"He's unique," said Dickerson. "He's not a burner, but he's got great hands and good ball skills. He wants to work and I think he has a ton of upside."

Custom in bowl preparations, Logan is getting some added attention along with a wealth of other youngsters on the Ole Miss roster.

With the departure of Shay Hodge, the first Rebel to total 1,000 yards in a single season, following the season finale in Dallas, those newcomers will be given a hard look to help fill the void. And while rough around the edges, Logan feels he's a viable candidate.

"I just come out every day and work hard to get better," Logan said. "Coach Dickerson keeps me after practice every day to catch some balls. I'll just keep working and hopefully impressing my coaches."

While has was unable to gain immediate playing time as a freshman, Logan said he's made sure to absorb as much as possible behind such a decorated veteran as Hodge.

"When I have time, I just watch Shay," Logan said. "He goes and gets it. He attacks the ball. I like that. You've just got to do it. I have problems adjusting to the ball at times, but I'm improving."

"When you have Shay Hodge, who's one of the better wide receivers in the SEC, he's not a bad teacher," Dickerson added. "I encourage all my young guys to watch the older guys and to take something from them. You're not going to be Shay Hodge. You're not going to be Dexter McCluster or Markeith Summers. But take something from them and put it into your arsenal. Make a name for yourself, but it's ok to take a little from someone else, because they're there for a reason."

Along with staying busy in drills, Logan has labored in the weight room to add valuable weight to an already solid frame. Keeping with Ole Miss' emphasis on strength and conditioning, he said he's already seen a substantial growth in his body.

"That all goes to (strength and conditioning) Coach (Don) Decker. He's going to put some weight on you," he said. "I came in at 170, and now I'm 195. It's a big difference. You have to put on weight in the SEC or you'll get pushed around."

Upon season's end, Ole Miss will see the departure of some 27 seniors due to graduation. A new crop of playmakers will be looked to for production, including Logan, whose early emergence is a welcomed sight for the Rebels' future prospects.

"This is Ja-Mes' first go-around, but he's really tried to get better every day," Dickerson said. "When the ball is in the air, he attacks it. He has that hunger."

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