Wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge excited about senior season and continuing ‘N.W.O.’ legacy at Ole Miss
OXFORD, Miss. — There’s an old adage that goes something like this: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” If that’s the case, Ole Miss’ DaMarkus Lodge is undeniably a leader.
Lodge, a senior, is the elder statesman of the “Nasty Wide Outs” (N.W.O.), the name wide receivers coach Jacob Peeler has given to his nationally-acclaimed group.
Lodge expressed excitement about the Rebels’ upcoming season when The Rebel Walk spoke with him recently. “I mean, there’s a lot to look forward to,” the 6-foot-2, 204-pound Lodge commented.
“You know, with the team we have coming back, we’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of experience under their belt now. The offense is more comfortable. The defense is putting it together. I just think it’s going to be a great year for us,” Lodge added.
Even with all the next-level talent the Rebels have at wide receiver — A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Braylon Sanders, and Floyd Allen, to name a few, are all returning — there is no jealousy amongst the teammates.
“It’s kind of a big deal to be selfless in our room because we’re only going to be as strong as our weakest link.”
Ole Miss WR DaMarkus Lodge on the wide receiving corps
When asked, Lodge did jokingly admit, however, that when one plays the position of wide receiver, he has to be a little bit of a “diva,” as former Ole Miss receiver and wide receivers coach Grant Heard once described himself–as well as all WRs.
“Playing that position you have to be,” Lodge smiled and said. “You’ve gotta feel like you’re the best on the field….and the best looking….” he laughed.
Continuation of ‘Wide Receiver U’
With a rich history of talented receivers who now play in the NFL, Ole Miss has become known as “Wide Receiver U.”
Lodge describes what he felt having the opportunity to watch and learn under those players who came before him, as well as the importance of his role in continuing the legacy of outstanding talent at the position.
“It feels amazing, coming in as a freshman watching guys like Laquon Treadwell, (Damore’ea) Stringfellow, Cody Core, Quincy Adeboyejo, and seeing their work ethic and the time they put in to pave the way for the us, the kids under them, man. It just means a lot.“
“We’re trying to keep that (legacy) going, and it seems like it’s working pretty well,” Lodge said with a smile.
Indeed, it is going well. Lodge, Brown, and Metcalf accounted for 2,596 receiving yards last season. Brown led the group with 75 receptions for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2017. Lodge caught 41 passes for 698 yards and 7 touchdowns, while, Metcalf hauled in 39 passes for 646 yards and seven TDs.
When one stops to think about the accomplishments of this year’s group of wide receivers during their tenure in Oxford — the N.W.O. have recently been named the top group in the nation at their position by both Athlon and ESPN — one might wonder what it is, exactly, that makes them so much better than their counterparts across the country. Is it superior athleticism, sheer talent, excellent coaching, or the competition they face with one another?
Lodge was quick to offer his thoughts on the topic, explaining what wide receivers Coach Jacob Peeler has instilled in his unit.
“I think it’s a mixture of it all. We go out, like I said, and compete every day,” he noted.
“Coach Peeler makes sure we have that intensity. He makes sure we compete for every ball. No matter if it’s too short or too high, we make some type of effort to get it, and I think that plays a big role. When the ball is in the air, we train ourselves to know we’re going to catch it and nobody else.”
Lodge on what makes the NWO successful
Several highly touted freshmen wide receivers — Miles Battle, Elijah Moore and Demarcus Gregory — join Ole Miss this season, and Lodge says he and his returning WR group have taken the younger players under their wing in order to help continue the N.W.O. legacy.
“We took them right on in,” Lodge said of the arrival of the newest receivers to campus. “We spend extra time with them outside of whatever we have planned for football, and we watch extra film with them and just make sure everybody is ready,” he said.
It is safe to say the future of the NWO at Ole Miss is in good hands with Lodge, Brown, and Metcalf.
Actually, that future is literally in the very best hands in the country.
Ole Miss opens the season against Texas Tech in the Advocare Texas Kickoff in Houston, Texas at NRG Stadium. Kickoff is set for 11:00 a.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.