Ole Miss offensive line looks to be deep, versatile in 2022
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss offensive line coach Jake Thornton is not often available to deal with the media. So, thank the Journalistic Gods for Jeremy James.
The junior from Cumming, Ga., took to the podium this past Monday after practice and updated the media on the state of the Rebels’ offensive line.
“I start with Caleb (Warren), I think I’ve said this before, y’all, he’s the perfect center,” James said. “He’s a great leader, he gets everyone where we need to be when we need them, I mean he’s doing a great job right now. Nick (Broeker), really at left guard, he’s going to be really big for us and then I’ll go with the tackles right now, I won’t say much about the guards, but you got Jayden Williams, he stepped up and played today, Micah (Pettus), Tobias (Braun), I mean all of them,” he added.
“I think this is probably the most depth we’ve had in a really long time at least since I’ve been here.”
Jeremy James on the Ole Miss O-line
Versatility on the O-line
The coaching staff showed the versatility of the linemen in the open scrimmage back on August 13, having players take repetitions at numerous positions.
“I think they’re just moving people around trying to make sure we’re all comfortable in whatever spot we have to be in during the season,” James said. “I’m not sure if it’s a permanent move or not but nice for them to know if we can move around how they need us to.”
As of this past Friday, the 19th, the Rebels’ offensive line looked like this: Jayden Williams (left tackle), Nick Broeker (left guard), Caleb Warren (center), Eli Acker (right guard) and James at right tackle.
James flipped from the left side of the line to the right when Mason Brooks went down with injury. Williams has played so well that he’s stayed with the ones even after Brooks’ return.
James believes the option of having players line up at different spots will be beneficial this season. “I think there’s probably six, seven guys I think could probably play all five spots for us,” he said.
“We’re going to be able to move people as we need and we’re going to be just fine regardless of what happens.”
James on the O-line versatility
The offensive line is a veteran group with four starters returning from last year’s 10-3 team and senior Brooks transferring from Western Kentucky. But one freshman, Preston Cushman, has caught James’ eye as well.
“Since he first got here, (not sure) why it stuck out to me but him and (former Rebel) Ben Brown resemble (one another) to me, like he’s going to be Ben Brown,” James said. “High motor, smart, go and play hard. I’ve been excited, he’s going to be good.”
No matter who is in the game, the goal of the offense is the same as it has been since coach Lane Kiffin arrived three years ago.
“Scoring a lot of points,” James said. “We’re going to move fast, I think we’re going to try to continue our tradition of being one of the most run-dominant teams and be explosive in the pass game as well.”
Ole Miss opens the season Sept. 3 in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium 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.