March 6, 2009

Former South Panola star gets Ole Miss offer

Jermarcus Hardrick has spent the last year of his life in Kansas, quite a distance from his home in Batesville, Miss.

The 6-foot-7, 315-pound offensive tackle from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College hasn't removed himself from his South Panola roots, meaning he watched with interest last fall as a group of former Tigers helped lead Ole Miss to a strong finish and a win over Texas Tech in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

Earlier this week, Hardrick got the call he's been waiting on for quite some time.

"(Ole Miss offensive line) Coach (Mike) Markuson called me and he said they'd watched my film and then they offered me," Hardrick said. "Now I have a chance to go back home. I can come in and keep the South Panola tradition going."

Hardrick watched former South Panola standouts Peria Jerry and Jamarca Sanford star on Ole Miss' defense last season. He also watched former Tiger John Jerry emerge as a run-blocking force at right tackle. If Hardrick signs with Ole Miss, he'd likely play right tackle as well, meaning he'd get a chance to follow a player he grew up admiring.

"I think about that a lot," Hardrick said. "He's from the same area I'm from. We kind of grew up together. He's kind of older than me, but we still kind of grew up together."

Hardrick said he will return to Batesville for spring break next Friday. He's hoping to make the 25-minute drive to Oxford to see Ole Miss during his time at home.

"Coach Nutt kind of has the program going," Hardrick said. "I don't have a leader right now. I'm going to check everything out, but I'm glad I'll have the choice to go back home."

Hardrick also has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Nebraska, South Florida and Southern Mississippi. He is scheduled to graduate from Fort Scott in December and enroll in his school of choice in January.

"I want to see how the team is that I'm going to," Hardrick said. "Can I step in and be a factor? And playing time will be important."

On the field, Hardrick is "nasty. I get mad if I don't get a pancake. That's really what it is."

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