February 10, 2008

Signing day analysis: Offensive line

(Editor's note: In an eight part series, RebelSports.net
breaks down the 2008 signing class by position.  On Thursday, a look was offered
at quarterbacks and on Friday, the series looked at tight ends.  Today's
analysis looks at the offensive line.In the coming
days, the series will also look at wide receivers, running backs,
defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backs.)

The skinny …  With the surprise
return of Michael Oher at left tackle for his senior season after initially
declaring for the NFL draft along with the return of John Jerry, Maurice Miller,
and Reid Neely, the Rebels are in great shape on the offensive line for 2008. 
Even the second tier depth looks solid with several players who saw limited time
or redshirted, but have at least one season on campus that should have them
physically ready if called on.  That group includes Rishaw Johnson, a
four-star signee from 2007; Mark Jean-Lewis, a junior college transfer; along
with Bradley Sowell, Alex Washington, and Daverin Geralds.

The big question is at center where both Cory
Actis and Thomas Eckers departed after splitting every snap last season.

The former staff had eyes on looking at Johnson
or Geralds at center, but new head coach Houston Nutt went out and signed three
star Brandon Green, a true center from Northwest C.C.  He'll get a
close look, but it's a given that the staff will look at lineman already there
and find one to compete with Green for the starting job and for depth.

With a solid line in place, the staff had the
luxury of recruiting players that they can develop in the system before they'll
start having some departures from the line over the next couple of years.

In addition to Green, they inked Kermit
Tyler, a long time commitment who shined in an all-star game and got bumped
up to three stars.  His stock was hurt some by not getting to play in the
game due to being sick, but was impressive enough in workouts to catch
attention.   The other two signees were recruited by the new staff and
not on the Rebels' board until new line coach Mike Markuson arrived. 
Markuson, who has been with Nutt since he initially took over at Arkansas in
1997, is a highly regarded line coach and also serves as Nutt's running game
coordinator.  He managed to attract two-star Arkansas commitment Josh
Tatum, who has the size to play tackle but may require a redshirt year and
Aaron Hawkins, another two-star prospect, but has an impressive list of
superlatives including being name all-state in Georgia by both sports writers
and coaches.  All four signees have the "beef" to play in the SEC.

The ones that got away ... 
Nutt and Markuson went hard after four-star Matt Hall[db], a long time
Arkansas commitment, but came up just short.  The same goes for [db]Garrett
Faircloth, a three star prospect who signed with Florida State.

Overall assessment ...  The Rebels
had the luxury to roll the dice on some lesser rated recruits instead of
engaging in heated battles for players looking to impact immediately.  That
equates to bringing in three high school athletes who they have time to develop,
and be evaluated this coming season, and based on that assessment, the staff can
adjust their recruiting targets and priorities for the 2009 class.  It's a
good position to be in with the talent the Rebels return.

Grade: C

The signees…

Brandon Green

• Ol

Southaven, Miss.

Northwest Mississippi C.C.)



A 2007 first-team Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges
All-State selection ... Participated in the Mississippi Junior College All-Star
game ... Started every game during his two seasons at Northwest ... Was an
honorable mention Academic All-American by JC Grid-Wire ... Selected to the
All-Region XXIII team ... ... Helped lead the Rangers to a 6-4 record in 2007
and MACJC playoffs ... Coached at Northwest by Randy Pippin ... HIGH SCHOOL:
Was a three-year starter at Southaven High School ... Coached in high school by
Ed Rich ... Earned first-team All-State honors his senior season and second-team
All-State honors during his junior season ... PERSONAL: Son of Vickie
Alexander .... Full name is Brandon Jay Green ... Born: July 14, 1987.


Aaron Hawkins

• 315 • OL

Lithonia, Ga.

(Martin Luther


Earned first
team 5A All-State honors from the Georgia Sports Writers Association
.... Rated the No. 22 center in the nation by Scout.com ... Named first
team All-Area by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ... Helped lead his
team to the Region 2-5A championship as a senior ... Coached
in high school by Corey Jarvis.


Joshua Tatum

6-5 • 315 • OL

Marbury, Ala.



Named first
team 3A All-State by the Alabama Sports Writers
as a senior ... Ranked
as the No. 71 OG in the nation by Scout.com ... Earned first team
All-Metro honors from the Montgomery Advertiser as a senior ... Selected
to the 2007 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic ... Coached in high school by
Kyle Glover.


Kermit Tyler

• 335 • OL

New Orleans, La.

(L.W. Higgins)


A PrepStar
All-Region selection ... As a senior earned All-Metro honors from The
... Helped lead team to three-straight district championships
... Earned first team All-State honors from the Louisiana Football Coaches
and honorable mention All-State honors from the Louisiana
Sports Writers Association
in 2007 ... Ranked the No. 31 player in Louisiana
by SuperPrep and named to the SuperPrep All-Region team ... Rated
the No. 28 player in Louisiana and the No. 52 OG in the nation by Rivals.com
... Ranked the No. 34 player in Louisiana and the No. 49 OG in the nation by
... Rated the No. 81 OG in the nation by ESPN.com ... Named
to The Times-Picayune Blue-Chip List ... Participated in the
Offense-Defense All-American Bowl ... Named All-District during junior and
senior years ... Coached in high school by Wayne Meyers.

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