Recorders On

Kentrell Lockett, both on and off the field, relishes his talking minutes.

As a broadcast journalism major, he's been taught in the ways of expression. He aspires to have his face behind an ESPN news desk, with the eyes and ears of college football hanging on his every opinion.

He's even made himself a candidate to replace Mark May on College Football Live. (Jokingly, of course.)

So when searching for an honest assessment of a rebuilding Ole Miss football team, there is none better than Lockett. Now a senior, the Hahnville, La. native has established himself as a leader and veteran voice in the locker room.

Basically, when Lockett talks, his teammates make a point to listen.

"I don't feel any pressure (to lead)," he said. "I'm not going to change or talk more. I'm still going to be me. I was the same guy three years ago. I really can't change. It's just me."

Kentrell Lockett

Lockett burst onto the scene as a sophomore, when he started all 13 games and tied for eighth in the Southeastern Conference in tackles for loss.

He followed up as a junior by again not missing a single start, and recorded a team-high 13 quarterback pressures. He was second on the team in both tackles for loss and sacks.

However, now he stands alone at defensive end. Marcus Tillman, Greg Hardy and Emmanuel Stephens graduated last season, which left Lockett amongst a returning core of green-eyed underclassmen and newcomers, including a highly-touted signee who was inserted into the starting lineup, Wayne Dorsey.

"There's no doubt they're important to this season and to the future of the football program," Lockett said of his young running mates. "But not just that, they're going to learn how important the summer is and how important school is."

The summer is important for Lockett, too. He had his knee scoped and a sports hernia fixed following spring practice, and is currently going through rehab. Lockett "considers myself 100 percent," but the team's athletic trainers have limited his workouts. He's replaced heavy weight lifting with added repetitions.

"I'm feeling good," he said. "I'm still trying to pick up some of the weight I lost after the surgery. That'll come with time. I'll just continue to work out and continue to rehab to get everything back right."

Kentrell Lockett

Still, Lockett has found time to reach out to his new teammates, namely Carlos Thompson, who carries a similar build to Lockett when he arrived on campus as a freshman in 2006.

"It's not a direct reflection, because he's a little thicker than I was when I came here," Lockett said. "But just looking at his body frame, mannerisms and the way he plays, he does kind of look like a reflection of me. We expect good things out of him."

Thompson, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive end, made 78 tackles and 10 sacks with 38 quarterback hurries as a senior at the Simmons School in Hollandle, Miss. Thompson chose Ole Miss over offers from Baylor, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Southern Mississippi and Vanderbilt.

"Carlos will be calling me to come and wash clothes and stuff," Lockett said. "It's not all the time on some football stuff. I remember how I was coming up here away from family. It's a whole new environment. You just have to ease into it. We're bringing (the freshmen) along."

Lockett expects some extra attention this season, may it be through double teams along the line of scrimmage or from a swarm of media in the interview room following those highly-contested conference games.

But through it all, he'll stay the same. He isn't trying to be anything but himself – a talker.

"When it comes to those pressure situations, I think the coaches will be looking at me to deal with certain situations," he said. "That comes with seniority. But there's no added pressure. You're supposed to do it anyway. Why be pressured into doing it?"

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