Welcome, Bobby Massie.
Massey was one of the top offensive tackles in the country coming out of Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, Va., two years ago. Last year at Hargrave Military Academy, he was the No. 1-rated prep school player when the Rebels swayed him from Alabama in the recruiting process.
Massie arrived at Ole Miss with the expectation that he would compete for the starting job at left tackle, the all-important line position that protects the quarterback’s blind side.
“He’ll be given every opportunity (to start), that’s for sure,” said offensive line coach Mike Markuson in August.
Massie’s athleticism combined with a mass of 345 pounds on his 6-foot-7 frame made a quick transition to a starting job plausible. It didn’t happen. It appears now, however, that the light has come on for the rookie.
“Within the last month it’s really started kicking in,” he said.
The new-found comfort zone allowed Massie to really start kicking some tail, albeit against a lower-level opponent last week in Northern Arizona.
The competition steps up in the last three games, beginning Saturday with Tennessee. Markuson says Massie will step up along with the it.
“He will play. He will be a factor,” Markuson said.
That’s good news for a line that has experienced growing pains with Bradley Sowell working into the role of a first-year starter at left tackle.
Further, the line has had to adjust to the suspension of right guard Rishaw Johnson, who brings a more physical nature to the position when available.
As Sowell and right tackle John Jerry sat out the Northern Arizona game, Massie went wire to wire and had 15 finishes, eight knock-downs and one pancake block.
“You can tell he’s becoming a pretty good player,” senior center Daverin Geralds said.
Massie, who has trimmed down to 317 pounds, credits Jerry with helping ease the transition.
Right tackle is where Massie has played most of his career. When he didn’t quickly pick up the speed of Division I football, instead of forcing the issue the coaches moved him to the right side to learn behind the senior Jerry.
“Coming from Hargrave, I thought I would be able to come in and compete right away. It was an eye-opening experience when I got here,” said Massey, his own eyes wide open as he further discussed his first starting assignment. “It felt good. Playing the whole game was something I haven’t done in a long time, and I took advantage of it.”
Massey has played some guard this season and could play more, depending on Markuson’s plan. Massey’s progress means there’s more mixing and matching that can be done, especially with Jerry’s versatility playing a role.
Massey is just eager to get back on the field and glad that his growth has reached another level. Bobby Massie in August and Bobby Massie in November are different players.
“I have much more knowledge and speed,” he says.
And pride. The practice whippings he was taking helped facilitate growth.
“I got tired of getting beat by Greg Hardy and Kentrell Lockett, them putting me on my back every day in practice. I had to step up and change something or get left behind.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or email@example.com