July 2, 2008

Rebels looking hard at Alabama center

Former Iuka, Miss. resident Jesse Grisham, now at Spain HS in Hoover, Ala. is seeing interest pick up from a couple of SEC schools to go along with offers from UAB and ULM.

Ole Miss is in the fray, and it appears that Rebel offensive line coach Mike Markuson may be only one more evaluation away from offering Grisham.

"Coach Markuson has told me that he likes my size at center, that he's seen my film and he likes what he saw," Grisham said on Tuesday. "He told me he wants me in camp to see if I can snap the ball, but he sees me as an SEC center."

Center is a position that has created problems for Ole Miss since first round draft choice Chris Spencer left for the Seattle Seahawks after the 2004 season.

First year head coach Ed Orgeron experimented with several players at the position in 2005, then settled on junior college transfer Cory Actis at the position the last two years, although Actis' production and performance was less than stellar and included some unnecessary personal foul penalties and often being in Orgeorn's doghouse due to missing classes - which led to a suspension for the Georgia game last all.

True junior Daverin Geralds from Baton Rouge came out on top of the depth chart at the position this spring and junior college transfer Brandon Green is running second. Geralds has been swapped back and forth between offense and defense lines and enters the season with no experience at the position.

Meanwhile, the challenge for Markuson is to find depth and a prospect to groom for the position assuming Geralds and Green fit team needs for the next two seasons.

At 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, Grisham apparently is one such candidate.

"I played guard last year as a junior and I'll be at left tackle this fall," said Grisham, who moved from Iuka to Alabama just before his freshman season. "But Ole Miss wants to look at me at center. Schools are projecting me as a center or guard."

In addition to the offers, Grisham is drawing interest from Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn. He's camped at Auburn and Middle Tennessee State and attended junior day at Alabama and Mississippi State.

The next stop for Grisham is two camps - State on July 12 and at Ole Miss on July 26. He recently received an invitation for the "Elite" (by invitation only) camp in Oxford.

Grisham said he grew up a fan of Ole Miss and has attended more than half a dozen games on the Oxford campus. However, that doesn't make the Rebels an automatic destination if they offer.

"I haven't chosen a school yet," he said. "Any SEC school would be high on my chart. Anyone in the SEC that offers would probably go to the top of my list. The SEC is the best conference in the country and where I'd love to play."

Grisham said Markuson has called him once and he's called Markuson several times to stay in touch, but that the camp appearance was arranged between Markuson and his coach at Spain High.

Grisham noted that Ole Miss' interest is not something that has happened recently; rather Markuson stopped by late in the school year and watched his practice and they've stayed in contact since that time.

Grisham sets no timetable for making a verbal pledge, instead, says he wants to look at all the offers and see what's best for him personally.

He has a 2.8 GPA and made an 18 on his first ACT attempt and plans to re-take the test in October.

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