Shades of Shay

In the search to replace Shay Hodge, redshirt freshman Ja-Mes Logan is quickly emerging as his quarterbacks' favorite target this spring. Read about it inside.

Nathan Stanley lined up under center for the first offensive series of Friday's full-pad scrimmage from his own 35-yard line inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The results, at least initially, were promising. While the drive stalled, Bryson Rose connected on a 40-yard field goal. An Ole Miss offense, one dominated by a vaunted Rebel defense all week, was quickly on the scoreboard.

For the remainder of the day, however, play returned to normal. Few running lanes were created by a retooled offensive line. Stanley, along with freshman Raymond Cotton, was constantly under pressure and seldom found open receivers.

Ja-Mes Logan

That is, of course, until Ja-Mes Logan began to separate.

"He's what we thought he was coming out of high school," Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said. "He's very good, very talented and fundamentally, he's gotten better.

"He's stronger and faster. He's always been able to catch the ball. He's a smooth athlete and gives us a chance out there."

In the search to replace Shay Hodge, Logan is quickly emerging as his quarterbacks' favorite target this spring.

He caught two of the team's three touchdown passes Friday, including a 20-yard strike from Stanley and a short-yardage score from Cotton.

"These are the best two competing quarterbacks I've ever seen," Logan said. "You've got Raymond Cotton and Nathan Stanley, and they're both competitors. They both want the job and somebody's got to get it."

For at least one practice, Logan resembled the player he spent his entire redshirt season mimicking. Constant hours in film study, time where he sat in awe of the abilities of Hodge, had paid off.

"When I wasn't playing (last season), I just watched Shay," Logan said. "My entire focus was Shay. Anytime I wasn't in, or anything I wanted to know or learn, I just went back to the film room and watched Shay."

Shay Hodge

Logan and Hodge carry similar characteristics – good size, sure hands.

Neither will likely be compared to speedsters Dexter McCluster or Mike Wallace, but Logan and Hodge attack the ball in the air and find ways to get open. They're strong, too.

Logan often paired with Stanley in offseason workouts. Like any good wide receiver, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder was hoping to build a trusting rapport. Even when Stanley wasn't feeling up to it, Logan coaxed the sophomore into doing more.

What followed was a little extra throwing on the practice fields.

"Every day after workouts, I'd be tired and kind of sore, but Ja-Mes would say, ‘Hey, let's go throw, let's go throw.' He wants to get better. It shows. We put in a lot of time this offseason," Stanley said.

"I've gotten better in a couple of ways, but you still work hard every day," Logan added. "You can't do nothing but get better. I come to practice to work."

Logan made the most of the chances he was given last season, but was relegated to the inglorious duties of the scout team.

Ja-Mes Logan

He was somewhat taken aback in receiving his redshirt, though he willingly sat out his freshman season and never complained. Instead, he only worked harder. He continued to pick the brain of Hodge and set his sights on the promise of spring drills.

Ole Miss is rather thin at wide receiver, with Logan sure to get playing time alongside veterans Markeith Summers and Lionel Breaux.

"How I look at it is somebody has to step up," he said. "I know Markeith is doing his job, Breaux is doing his job and Jesse Grandy is doing his job. There's still one more out there to do their job. I think that's me."

Almost every starting job is etched in sand for the Ole Miss offense. Competition surrounds the walls of the indoor practice facility as week two of spring opens today at 4 p.m.

Logan is one of many hoping to showcase their skills before fall rolls around.

"Ja-Mes is really good," Stanley said. "He's come a long way. He worked really hard in the offseason, he's disciplined. He's going to be a big-time target for us this year."


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