Little Big Man

At 5-foot-11 Cameron Wagner of South Panola High School in Batesville, Miss., isn't your prototypical O-lineman, but he measures up to other top Division I line prospects in every way.

A starter since his sophomore season at guard, Wagner has been selected All-State the last two seasons and helped Panola extend it's streak of Class-5A state championship to four straight. He play primarily in the offensive line, but D-line may be his destination on the next level.

That's not to discount his potential as a blocker, although it is indeed rare to see one that size in the SEC or anywhere else in Division-I. Nonetheless UT has enjoyed success through the years with such notable shorter exceptions as Chip Kell, Bubba Miller and Harry Galbreath. Yet each member of that talented Tennessee trio exceeded the six-foot mark. At 5-11 Wagner might be easy to overlook.

That might also be a big mistake because Cameron Wagner is off the charts when it comes to quickness, strength and hardcore tenacity. His 315-pound body is layered with muscle, honed through years of dedicated strength training.

He finished third in the state power-lifting meet as a sophomore with a 680-pound squat and a 375-pound bench press. This year he is shooting for 450 in the bench and 730 in the squat. How much will he be lifting as a college freshman in 2008?

For sure he is in a class of his own in terms of strength, but his stature still engenders skepticism among many Division I coaches. That's why this powerhouse prospect is still waiting for his first offer. It's a big bias he works hard to overcome. He proved himself at last summer's Michigan camp "The height issue has been a struggle for me because that is all they look at, my height," Wagner told Scout.com's Yancy Porter. "They were kind of biased at first, but when they saw I had quick feet and had some moves, they started recognizing me." Wagner more than held his own against both O-line and D-line prospects pledged to the Wolverines' class of 2007.

"They put me against this 6-6-, 315-pound guy from Pittsburgh," he told Porter. "I put a swim move against him and got right around him. He congratulated me. He committed to Michigan and gave me his phone number. We still talk to this day. He told me I could play on the next level.

The Batesville native also demonstrated he could play on both sides of the line that day.

"They had their top defensive line recruit going against me, and he could not get around me either," he reports. "I did this punch move, and he told me I was short but I could block."

Impressive as that was the weight room is where he really packed a wallop, lifting a camp best 23 reps of 225 pounds.

His best position might be as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, but he could also at defensive tackle and would be a strong addition to any short yardage or goal-line defense where leverage is the key. He would also be an imposing lead blocker in jumbo sets where the object is to pound and ground.

Wagner is also a solid student with a reported 2.9 GPA. He took the ACT for the first time last month. He indicates Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Michigan and Tennessee are showing the most interest in him.

It just seems like a matter of time before one of these programs overlooks his shortcomings and makes an offer.


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