Rebels’ tackle Tunsil embraces challenge, improves

By Parrish Alford
Daily Journal
OXFORD – Laremy Tunsil wants it all.
The sophomore left tackle for Ole Miss has gifts that could make him worthy of a “Blind Side” sequel, but he’s not content to ride only his pass-blocking assets to NFL riches.
While offensive line coach Matt Luke ponders roles and shuffles players, there’s been a lot of uncertainty up front.
But not at left tackle.
A five-star recruit, Tunsil was rated the No. 1 offensive tackle in the Class of 2013, a status bestowed because of footwork and quickness.
“My biggest asset is pass-blocking … my feet, my quickness. It’s jumping out on them. They don’t expect how fast you are, how quick you are. I can jump out on them and get my hands on them,” he says.
When that happens Laremy Tunsil is most often the winner, and that asset alone turns heads among NFL executives.
Earlier this off-season Chase Goodbread, who covers college football for NFL.com, put Tunsil No. 2 on his list of SEC “breakout” players for 2014.
According to Goodbread, “Tunsil will be as good as any left tackle in the league including 2015 draft prospects Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M), La’El Collins (LSU) and Corey Robinson (South Carolina).”
In trying to become a more complete player Tunsil has maintained a good playing weight at 305 pounds and has gotten stronger.
He wants Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze to run behind him on fourth-and-1.
“I can be that guy. I’ve got to stay in the weight room, work on my hips more, my thighs … get stronger. I think I can make a huge impact if I improve,” Tunsil said.
Getting better
Luke says Tunsil’s camp has him well on his way to becoming that player.
“His run-blocking is where I’ve seen the most improvement, just trying to finish people,” Luke said. “He really took the challenge in the off-season to get stronger and finish in the run game.”
Tunsil had arguably the best debut season of the Rebels’ talented 2013 class. He was a freshman All-American and was second-team All-SEC by The Associated Press in a year that had six SEC tackles drafted, three in the first round.
Achievements like that would create a sense of swagger in many players. It’s quite possible, though, that Tunsil’s biggest boost to self-esteem has come by feeling himself improve as a run blocker.
“He’s much more confident,” Luke says. “I know it’s hard to believe of a guy with that ability, but his confidence level has really risen. His knowledge of the game has carried over. He’s gotten a lot stronger, and he’s kept his weight right where it needs to be. He’s moving really well, playing really good.”
parrish.alford@journalinc.com