By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – The only NFL city Laremy Tunsil is thinking about is Atlanta, and it has nothing to do with next-level football.
Ole Miss lifted its media ban on freshmen Monday, allowing members of its 2013 top 10 recruiting class to participate in interviews. Among those who spoke was Tunsil, its starting left tackle.
Tunsil, a consensus five-star recruit and rated among the top 10 overall recruits, believes he’ll be in the NFL soon enough.
“I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about going to Atlanta, winning the national championship. That’s the only thing on my mind.”
Ole Miss and Texas A&M, which entered the SEC for the 2013 season, are the only Western Division members yet to reach the conference championship game in the Georgia Dome.
Tunsil – 6-foot-5, 315 pounds – had nine starts at left tackle last season, missing the bowl game with a shoulder injury. He allowed only one sack en route to freshman All-America honors.
He and fellow freshman Evan Engram, the Rebels’ tight end, earned second-team All-SEC recognition by the Associated Press, the first two true freshmen in school history to do so.
Tunsil said he was able to adjust to the speed of SEC rushers. The fastest he saw were Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson, also a freshman last season, and his Ole Miss teammate C.J. Johnson.
There’s a lot to like about what Tunsil has accomplished early in his college career, and there are areas to improve as well.
“I would say becoming more of a dominant run blocker is the next step in his progression,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. “He’s not bad at it, but he can become more dominant at it.”
Currently joining Tunsil along the Rebels’ first-team spring offensive line are left guard Justin Bell, center Ben Still, right guard Daronte Bouldin and right tackle Austin Golson.
There are a lot of moving pieces right now as veteran Aaron Morris is being held out and incoming recruits are expected to compete for jobs in August.
There will be no competition for starter at left tackle. Tunsil, though, is eager to elevate his game on the run.
“In high school we really just passed, so I’m really like a pass-technique (guy),” he said. “I need to work on my run blocking and get in the weight room more, get down and get my pad level down more. It’s really about technique, but you’ve got to have that weight-room mentality.”