OXFORD – Wayne Dorsey brought an impressive resume to Ole Miss, just not as impressive as the shoes he’s trying to fill.
It couldn’t be. He hadn’t been there.
The Rebels thrived with a rotation of four defensive ends last year, but three of those are gone.
Dorsey was rated among the top junior college prospects in the nation after recording 16 sacks over two seasons at Gulf Coast.
As the Rebels transition at defensive end, Dorsey will be asked to make the plays once made by Greg Hardy, Marcus Tillman and Emmanuel Stephens.
“I wouldn’t say pressure. Pressure is not a word I would use,” said Dorsey, who also starred in basketball at Southwestern High School in Baltimore. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I don’t think I feel pressure.”
Sometimes, though, Dorsey did feel confusion while going through spring drills.
His 6-6, 255-pound frame puts him in position to acclimate quickly to the physical demands of the SEC, but he was part of a four-man front for the first time since prep school.
It took a while to get back in the swing of things, and while Dorsey says he feels no pressure, he seemed to put pressure on himself when he made mistakes with reads and other assignments.
“He would be like, ‘How do you see that?’ and I would say, ‘It will come with time. I see something different compared to you,’” said senior Kentrell Lockett, a returning two-year starter on the other end.
Lockett is getting some preseason All-SEC mention after posting 10 tackles for loss last season, five of them sacks.
He’s appeared in 32 games, starting 28 and readily accepts the role of tutor trying to help Dorsey be all that he can be.
“He’s expected to come in and do big things, and he was so hard on himself when he made a mistake,” Lockett said. “I just told him, ‘Everybody goes through it, bro. Just get in the playbook. It’s going to come.’”
Dorsey held the starting spot at left end throughout the spring, a fact that speaks to his talent – and the coaches’ expectations for him – but also to the depth behind him.
Freshman Cameron Whigham, who will enter August camp second on the depth chart, showed nice energy and instinct in the spring but hasn’t played in the SEC and isn’t as far removed from high school as Dorsey.
As Dorsey worked through some early busts, he gained a comfort level for the system and his role in it.
“I couldn’t say it was one day, but in spurts, I felt like I got it at different times,” Dorsey said. “I would make a mistake and would be mad at myself, looking to correct it. I’d get it again.”
The persistence paid off, and Dorsey heads into practice more confident.
“The biggest thing is you need to know formations and what to expect. The best thing for a defensive end to have is to be prepared for whatever he may see. Someone who’s not prepared for what’s coming for them is prepared for failure.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or email@example.com
Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal