Size matters, and at six-foot-four, 315 pounds – and with footwork uncommon for that frame – Judon finds himself as part of an SEC football program even though he hasn’t put on pads since the pee wee days.
“I did play that one year, but I had no clue what I was doing,” he said.
Football wasn’t offered at Myrtle where Judon starred in baseball, hitting .428 with 36 home runs and 146 RBIs for his career.
Other athletes with so little experience might not have drawn much interest, but Judon’s combination of height, weight and agility makes him a different case.
“We were lifting in winter conditioning, and I was like, ‘Who is this guy who’s weighing 300 pounds and runs so well?’ ” defensive line coach Chris Kiffin said. “He’s a unique story. I didn’t know how he got out here.”
The change came about after Ole Miss baseball coach Mike Bianco had conversations with football Hugh Freeze and described a coachable player with size and mobility.
Before that, friends had urged Judon to purse a different path.
“I knew baseball wasn’t going to work out for me, and a lot of people were telling me I could come out and try this and possibly get on the field,” he said. “I’m giving it a shot.”
Kiffin said his initial amazement at Judon in the weight room suffered a setback when he learned that Judon’s career would begin on offense with line coach Matt Luke, not on defense.
“You’ve got the co-offensive coordinator over there, so you know who’s going to win those battles,” he said.
The plan all along, however, was to work Judon on both sides of the ball. Though he began on offense, he was moved quickly to defense and has stuck there for the time being.
With almost no football in his background, there aren’t bad habits that Judon has to work through, and he’s won some individual battles this spring. Still, playing time isn’t likely soon.
Kiffin, though, sees a lot of potential in a player he describes as a sponge soaking everything in.
“He’s very raw. There’s no technique right now, but the potential is there. He’s very coachable. He’s a good listener, and he wants to learn.”