COLUMN (PLUS VIDEO BLOG): A positive camp experience could end up leading to a much-needed commitment at linebacker for the Ole Miss Rebels down the road.
North Forrest linebacker Lelland Ducksworth (6-foot-1, 215-pounds) recently attended Ole Miss’ Senior Elite Camp this past weekend and his performance ultimately paid off with an offer from coach Houston Nutt. Ducksworth’s coach, Matt Caldwell, said almost all of the schools that have currently offered want him as an outside linebacker.
“He has real good speed. I would say that is his best attribute. He’s a physical player that does not shy away from contact. When you combine speed and physical ability, usually you have a pretty good player,” Caldwell said, who added that Ducksworth was excited about his offer from Ole Miss. “Lelland is a great character kid. You’re not going to find a better one that Lelland Ducksworth. He has great parents. He’s what you want in a student-athlete.”
Caldwell said Ducksworth has a 3.0 grade point average in his core classes and scored a 19 on the ACT, which gives him the necessary freshmen eligibility requirements.
Caldwelll said Ducksworth currently has offers from Mississippi State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State, Memphis, Jacksonville State and Southeastern Louisiana. Southern Mississippi has shown interest in the local standout, but has yet to offer. Caldwell thought Ole Miss and Mississippi State were at the top of his wish list currently but not ranked in any particular order.
Another school who could end up offering Ducksworth in the future is Florida State, last season’s champions in the Chic-fil-A Bowl. Caldwell played for current FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett when he coached at Mississippi State under head coach Jackie Sherrill in the early 1990s.
“I have a connection with Coach Trickett from my days at State and I asked him to consider Lelland and he said he really like his tape and wanted to come down to the camp,” said Caldwell, who escort Ducksworth down to Tallahassee for at least one day of the three-day camp that runs June 19-21. “If he gets an offer from Florida State, I think he would obviously consider them because of what they’ve got going on there.”
Last season Ducksworth was credited with 69 tackles, one sack, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles for the 2A Eagles. He was also one of four backs who rushed for over 530 yards, Caldwell said, and had the ability to get more if he wanted him to.
It may be strange to think that Ole Miss ends up signing a player from as far away as Minnesota in 2012, but if Will Johnson likes his upcoming visit to Ole Miss this month, the native of Osseo, Minn., could be the Rebels’ tight end of the future.
The 6-7, 250-pound Johnson is scheduled to visit Oxford next week as one of the five trips he uses to decide where he wants to play football and get an education at the next four or five years.
According to Johnson’s coach, Derrin Lamker, Johnson’s parents are military people that have lived all over the country and that he likes the idea of living in the South due to the weather and southern hospitality. Johnson has already visited Auburn — he participated in the Big Cat Weekend camp that was held at the end of May — and the Tigers are one of the five schools he’s seriously considering.
Lamker said Auburn is recruiting Johnson exclusively as an offensive tackle and said the Tigers’ coaches thought he could be a first- or second-round draft pick at the position after college. Lamker said Johnson’s first love is playing tight end, the spot Ole Miss wants him at primarily, but is a team-first guy that wants to do the best for the team and wouldn’t have a problem of playing another position down the road.
Earning a degree, and feeling comfortable with the school from an education standpoint, would also be big in the decision making process for Johnson Lamker said.
“You got to be happy with where you go to school if you get hurt and can’t play anymore and he’s heard nothing but great things about Ole Miss’ academics,” Lamker said. “That’s why Ole Miss is one of the five schools he is really looking at.”
Strength is not an issue for Johnson, Lamker said, who added he was a “gym rat” in more ways than just one.
“He is the most athletic big guy I have ever coached. He loves to work, he loves to do drills, he does extra stuff to get even better,” Lamker said. “He is an ox in the weight room and not a project like you see big guys like him described. It’s scary to think what the coaches will be able to do to his body in two years.”
Johnson caught 33 passes and scored five touchdowns last season for the 7-3 Osseo Orioles, who are located just outside of Minneapolis.
Ridgeway (Memphis) RB Jaylen Walton (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) became Ole Miss’ sixth verbal commitment for the 2012 signing class on Thursday, pledging to the Rebels over offers from Mississippi State, Cincinnati and Notre Dame, among others.
During his junior season Walton rushed for more than 2,200 yards and 38 touchdowns. (June 10, 2011, Page 8A)