By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Aaron Morris says being physical just comes natural.
His position coach sees another natural advantage for Morris, and having two important cards to play as a freshman has helped Morris navigate through the depth chart at one of the deepest positions at Ole Miss – offensive line.
Morris, 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, was rated the No. 6 player in Mississippi, the No. 13 offensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com.
Young guys were thrown into the fire, and the Rebels gained a lot of experience in 2010, a tumultuous season for the offensive line.
Still, line coach Mike Markuson has spared nothing in getting Morris ready to play. The former Jackson Callaway star has played both sides of the ball and has played both guard and tackle.
“It’s a big playbook. There are a lot of calls, and the terminology is different. That’s what’s difficult,” he said.
Morris has quickly rose to second team and had a brief run with the first team at left guard earlier this week. By Wednesday he was back on the right side.
Sometimes helping his players achieve the proper angles with pad level against on-rushing defensive linemen is one of Markuson’s most difficult tasks. That hasn’t been the case with Morris.
“He plays with great bend. He’s a natural bender, and when you have guys that big that can bend their knees just naturally, and you don’t have to work on it very much. That’s just what they’re born with. He’s got that part of it, and he’ll deliver it,” Markuson.
The bend is one advantage for Morris. The other is a willingness to hit.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said Morris, one of his youngest offensive linemen, was also his most physical last Saturday in the Rebels’ first scrimmage.
The physical part of offensive line comes as natural to Morris as his bend, but he’s a little surprised at how he’s been able to hold his own against SEC defensive linemen.
“These boys, they’re all physical. I just come in and play hard. My coach has prepared me the best he can.”
There’s one other secret to the early success for Morris.
“I just pray every night.”
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said he was pleased to see the Rebels put two good days of work together.
“It was exciting to see them push through it when it got hotter. Some of our young guys are growing up, and some of our older guys are helping the young guys,” he said.
A number of players unavailable for the workout with what has been called minor camp injuries.
Among the missing were mostly defensive players, linebacker Ralph Williams, ends Carlos Thompson and Jason Jones, tackles Uriah Grant and Gilbert Pena. They were joined by wide receiver Melvin Harris.
“We try to make it a very physical practice and not tackle all the way to the ground. Still we get a hamstring here, a pull there. It’s aggravating,” Nutt said.
Also not at practice Wednesday was freshman cornerback Senquez Golson. Nutt said Golson is “en route” and is expected to be back in Oxford tonight. Golson was in Boston Monday for negotiations with the Red Sox and turned down an offer reportedly worth more than $1,000,000.