While at Arkansas, offensive line coach Mike Markuson molded some unheralded recruits into top notch talent.
Look no further than two-star ranked Jonathan Luigs, who after a redshirt year in 2004, won the Rimington Award as the nation's top center in 2007. Overall, Markuson has put his share of college offensive linemen in the NFL including the likes of Shawn Andrews (Philadelphia), Tony Ugoh (Indianapolis), and Jason Peters (Buffalo).
For the 2009 signing class, the jury is out on a lot of offensive linemen, with schools taking a wait and see approach as to how prospects develop over the fall. Meanwhile, a small pool of top linemen across the country have already made verbal commitments. Overall, it may be a down year for linemen as the top rated offensive linemen in the country (Morgan Moses) comes in only at number 25 in the Rivals100.
If it is a down year for offensive linemen, it's not a good situation for Ole Miss as the Rebels will look to sign seven to eight offensive linemen next February, up from the original target of six, after the loss of 2007 signee Kermit Tyler due to a medical condition that prematurely ended his football career.
The Rebels have one offensive line commitment in Emmanuel McCray, and have already missed on some targets including Will Jackson (Georgia Tech), Alex Bullard (Notre Dame), and Josh Williford[d/b] (LSU). That means the hunt is on for prospects out of the mold of Luigs. The Rebels could add a second commitment soon as Texan [db]Michael Brown[d/b] is reportedly an Ole Miss lean and they're also in the mix for a couple of junior college players in [db]Aaron Schulte and James Carpentar.
One high school prospect the Rebels evaluated in the spring, but have yet to offer is Tallahassee (Lincoln HS), Fla. offensive tackle Hunter Poole.
"Coach (Chris) Vaughn came down in the spring and we talked a lot later," Poole said on Thursday. "I thought Ole Miss was close to offering at that time, but it hasn't worked out yet. Coach Vaughn and I have a lot of things in common."
Vaughn recruits the Tallahassee area, where he prepped at Godby High School before signing with Houston Nutt, then a first year coach at Murray State, but Markuson will be the deciding factor on which offensive line prospects receive an offer.
Poole, a 6-foot-5, 315 pound prospect with 5.2 speed, played last season at Thomas County Central High School in Thomasville, Ga. He currently has offers from Duke, Ball State, East Carolina and Georgia Southern, and is receiving interest from Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Iowa State, and Michigan State in addition to Ole Miss.
"I'm open to anyone right now," Poole said. "I plan on getting offers from all those schools that are showing interest right now - plus some more."
Poole said he really didn't grow up a big fan of any school, but probably has some ties to Georgia based on previously living there, and also to Florida State, because of his currently living in Tallahassee.
Poole admittedly doesn't know much about Ole Miss, but says the Rebels are in the same situation as most other schools that are recruiting him - he wants to wait and see how teams do during the season and see what offers he receives.
"Around midseason, I'll evaluate and decide which schools I'll take an official visit to," he said.
One thing that Poole things will help his offer situation is a change of offense at his high school.
"I've been blocking in a veer offense the last few years," he said. "This year, I'm going to do a lot of pass blocking in a spread offense. I've worked hard on my pass blocking and I think when coaches see how I can pass block, that'll really help."
Poole said he didn't workout at any college football camps this summer, preferring to work out individually and only made a few unofficial visits, which included a trip to Georgia. He also took a trip in April and stopped by the campuses at Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana.
Poole has a 3.2 GPA and has already scored a 25 on his ACT.
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