Ole Miss LB Ashanti Cistrunk talks fall camp, linebacker corps, and ‘keeping the train rolling’
OXFORD, Miss. – In the 1992 film, A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks portrays a manager of a women’s baseball team. As the team is about to play for the championship, his star player quit the squad and said it just got too hard.
Hanks’ character responds, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everybody would do it.”
Welcome to fall camp, Ole Miss Rebels.
“Fall camp is fall camp, it’s hard,” senior linebacker Ashanti Cistrunk said after practice Saturday.
“We’re just working, man. They’re (the coaches) trying to make it fun with the meetings and stuff, having fun music and all that — but fall camp is fall camp. It’s going to be hard.”
Ole Miss linebacker Ashanti Cistrunk on fall camp
Well, not all the coaches are trying to make camp fun.
“It was good that it was hotter today than it had been, (so we) push them, get them uncomfortable,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said after Saturday’s practice. “A lot of new guys as you know, so a lot of work to do with them.”
Cistrunk has seen an influx of new guys in the linebackers’ room. Transfers Troy Brown (Central Michigan), Khari Coleman (TCU), Reginald Hughes (Northeast Mississippi Community College), John Porchivini (Cal), and Danny Lockhart II (USC) are joined by incoming freshmen Trip White, Jaron Willis, Tyler Banks and Zaid Warren.
The newcomers join veterans Cistrunk, Austin Keys, Andrew Griffin and Clayton Ladd in camp.
Whether a player has been in Oxford his entire career, or he is just joining the program, the linebackers are all getting work early in camp.
“We’re just getting rotation you know, letting everybody get a feel for it,” Cistrunk said.
“We’re still rotating. We don’t know who might start and who might not start. We’re letting everyone get a piece of it, letting everyone get a chance. We’re working hard every day. We’re just going to let them say what they have to say. We know when we show up September 3 what it’s going to be. Working hard every day.“
Cistrunk got a good bit of playing time a season ago, tallying 30 tackles (15 of them solo stops), 2.5 tackles for loss, a half a sack, a pair of broken up passes and an interception.
QB Zach Calzada intercepté par DB Ashanti Cistrunk !
Ole Miss peut faire le break.pic.twitter.com/XyckiDOvKD
— TBP College Football (@thebluepennant) November 14, 2021
The Louisville, Miss., native hopes to add to that success this season, both individually and as a unit.
“The next step for me is just dominating completely. Go out there and impose my will on everybody.“
Ashanti Cistrunk on his personal goals
As for the defense as a whole, Cistrunk knows what they need to do, also. “We plan to build on from last year. You know, keep the train rolling like get better from last year.”
That train – the Lane Train – begins its journey three weeks from today against Troy.
(Feature Image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.