OXFORD, Miss. – The years fly by when you’re doing something you love. Ole Miss wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge has experienced just as he embarks on his final season of college football.
Lodge arrives as member of 2015 recruiting class and wants to play
It seems like just yesterday the 2015 recruiting class, of which Lodge was a part, stepped on campus in Oxford. Lodge was one of seven, four-star recruits to commit to the Rebels that year, helping Ole Miss finish with the 17th-best class in the country.
That group, which consisted of Chad Kelly, D.J. Jones, Javon Patterson, Eric Swinney, Tony Bridges, and Van Jefferson, was ranked No. 7 in the Southeastern Conference.
Lodge arrived on campus with a vision of playing as a freshman, putting the idea of redshirting in the rearview mirror. Before the start of that initial season, the former Cedar Hill High (Texas) product met with then-head coach Hugh Freeze to discuss what the freshman’s plans were going to be for the season.
And his main goal was to play college football.
However, with many talented receivers already on campus, Lodge found himself buried deep on the depth chart behind players like Markell Pack, Cody Core, Laquon Treadwell, Quincy Adeboyejo, Damore’ea Stringfellow, and Derrick Jones.
Even with so many experienced receivers in front of him on the depth chart, Lodge stood firm with on his decision and told Freeze he did not want to redshirt and, instead, pursued his dream of playing as a true freshman. Lodge saw action in eight games as a reserve receiver and as a member of special teams.
Getting better and better
Lodge’s lone reception during the 2015 season resulted in a 12-yard touchdown against UT-Martin. He was just getting started.
In 2016, Lodge played in 11 games, finishing with 203 receiving yards and two scores on 15 receptions. With each successive year under his belt, Lodge showed he had the talent to be an elite receiver in a power-five conference.
In 2017, Lodge had his best season as a Rebel, tallying 698 yards and seven touchdowns on 41 receptions. For the first time in his career, he played in every regular season game, and he enters the 2018 season as a leader and a mentor–as opposed to the youngster who had to wait his turn for prominence.
Following Tuesday’s practice, Lodge said he can’t help but smile about how far he has come in the last three years.
“Time moves so fast. I look up, and I’m the old head in the room now. I’m teaching the younger guys stuff now. It’s kind of crazy, but I’m enjoying the road.”
Ole Miss wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge
Lodge now serves as mentor
Lodge has been serving as a mentor to players such as Drake Beck, Jared Farlow, Josh Ricketts, and Braylon Sanders, who are some of the next receivers up once Lodge, D.K Metcalf, and A.J. Brown finish their collegiate careers. Lodge has been impressed with the young receivers in the room.
“We got a room full of guys, and we feed off each other every day,” Lodge said.
“We learn something new from each other every day, so I think it’s going to be a special season for the whole group.”
Lodge: ‘…I would still come to Ole Miss’
From entering school as a freshman who did not want to redshirt, to having a breakout season as a junior, DaMarkus Lodge has truly enjoyed being a student-athlete at Ole Miss. Even though Lodge had many other offer Division I offers, he knows coming to Oxford was a great choice.
“Just the great people around, the great coaches,” Lodge said when asked what he has enjoyed the most about the program.
“If I could go back and choose again, I would still come to Ole Miss.”
DaMarkus Lodge on his decision to attend Ole Miss