Posted: 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013
By The Ghost of Jay Cutler
Emmanuel McCray and Pierce Burton started every game at left and right tackles respectively. Both are exactly what they seem like - capable, experienced blockers. Neither will wow you with their size, strength, or protection skills, but they're durable and workmanlike in their approach to the game. There were times when they struggled to keep Bo Wallace off of his ass (namely against Georgia, Alabama, and LSU in the fourth quarter), but I won't fault them for too much. They were thrown into the fire and asked to work miracles and, while they didn't do that exactly, they gave us 13 full, injury free games of effort.
That "injury free" part, by the way, is probably their greatest contribution to the offense last year. They were durable and tough enough to endure, something they had to do because last year's offensive line was thinner than a freshman legacy before sorority rush (too soon?).
More of the same, but better. That's what you get when you return both starting tackles. With their experience, I expect McCray and Burton to be as ready a we can hope for them to be. McCray measures 6'5" and weighs 320 and Burton's at 6'6" 290 - that's ideal for Hugh Freeze's hurry-up no huddle. They're long and massive, but just lean and flexible enough to keep up with the pace of the offense and block for the read option. Another thing I like for this season is that there will finally be some competition to keep them honest and improving, but even then McCray and Burton aren't going anywhere... yet.
The Incoming Class
If you go by 247Sports' recruiting rankings, then Ole Miss signed the #1 and #13 overall offensive tackles in this past recruiting class in Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson respectively. Both have been receiving plenty of praise from Rebel coaches during fall practices, and both should play a role on the offensive line this fall. I would expect to see them start out as offensive guards, but only because that is fairly typical at this level of play. High school offensive linemen are rarely able to play tackle as freshmen. That said, though, Tunsil has looked good enough that he may actually step into a tackle role sooner rather than later. By all accounts, he is one of the most advanced freshmen at any position that our coaches have ever seen. I could see him starting out in a reserve role only to take over the left tackle position as a full time starter.
The Rebels also signed Daronte Bouldin out of Canton High School. Bouldin is big and strong enough to play in the SEC and is one of my sleepers in this class to be a success at this level. At 6'5" and 300 pounds, he could step in and contribute at one of the reserve guard spots, assuming he is not redshirted.