OXFORD, MS – Sean Rawlings hears naysayers discuss whether or not this year’s Ole Miss offensive line can get the job done, and with Florida State up first, the 6-foot-five, 282 pound offensive lineman feels it’s a must for the unit to get off to a strong start.
Rawlings, a Madison, Miss. native, calls the matchup against the Seminoles a “statement game” and believes a strong performance from the big men up front will offer an opportunity for fans of the Rebels to rally behind the revamped offensive line.
Sean Rawlings, Ole Miss OL
Rawlings is confident about how the offensive line’s chemistry has come together since the spring. Both he and fellow sophomore OL Jordan Sims have been impressed with freshman left tackle Greg Little, who Sims feels will be “a great player in the future.”
There’s also no concern from Rawlings on whether the offensive line will be able to open up holes for the running attack or give senior quarterback Chad Kelly enough time to throw the football. Rawlings noted that senior running back Akeem Judd mentioned at last week’s Media Day how the line “looked great” before the team went into full pads.
But despite the progression of the Ole Miss o-line, the doubters remain. However, they may have overlooked one piece of the puzzle that is very important: experience.
Most of the potential starters in the group – outside of Little, redshirt freshman Alex Givens, and versatile athlete Jeremy Liggins – played significant minutes at some point last season. Consider the following from 2015:
- Sophomore Rawlings played in 10 games with seven starts at right tackle.
- Sophomore Sims played in every game with four starts at right guard.
- Junior offensive lineman Rod Taylor played in 10 games with two starts at right guard.
- Senior offensive lineman Robert Conyers played in six games with five starts at center, before tearing his ACL at Memphis. Entering the 2016 season, Conyers has played in 24 career games.
- Sophomore Javon Patterson played as a true freshman, starting six of 12 games (four at left guard, two at right guard).
“These guys have been working their tails off. We got a lot of experience last year,” said Rawlings, who also pointed out how Conyers’ experience and leadership will help everyone else. “We are trying to remove that question mark that this offensive line isn’t experienced enough.”
Still, many recall the success of last year’s offensive line–a group that included players such as Laremy Tunsil, Fahn Cooper, Ben Still, Aaron Morris and Justin Bell— and are somewhat hesitant to have complete faith in what this year’s offensive line can do.
Rawlings and his fellow linemen have something to say about that. They worked hard all spring and summer heading in to fall camp, and they are ready to show what they’re made of.
The No. 12 Rebels face No. 4 Florida State at Camping World Stadium in Orland on Monday, September 5 at 7:00 pm (CT). The game will be televised on ESPN.