By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – If BenJarvus Green-Ellis gains another 134 yards this football season he can further impress a lot of Ole Miss fans.
The Rebels tailback would become only the fourth player in school history to reach 1,000 rushing yards in a season, the first since Deuce McAllister in 1998.
If he pulls it off, Green-Ellis would in all likelihood finish among the top three rushers in the SEC, perhaps in the top two.
Those things would bring him a lot of notoriety, but would mean virtually nothing to two people ... Green-Ellis himself and DeJoyce Brumfield, the grandmother he grew up with in inner-city New Orleans.
“My grandmother is one of my most bitter critics,” Green-Ellis says. “She doesn’t think I should have just 1,000 yards. She thinks I should run through everybody and never get tackled.”
Running through people is a big part of Green-Ellis’ game. His speed is adequate, not break-away, and his vision is good enough to let him see the cut-back lanes.
His strength is such that rarely does initial contact end his play.
That rugged style has helped Green-Ellis ignite a Rebels rushing turnaround that has Ole Miss almost doubling its meager 73.3-yard team average of 2005.
Green-Ellis himself has run for 866 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 4.6 yards per carry on 189 attempts.
Now a junior, Green-Ellis ran for 938 yards as an Indiana University freshman, then 794 yards as a sophomore.
He last surpassed 1,000 yards as a senior at St. Augustine High School, a feat made more impressive because he shared carries as part of a running backs rotation.
The 1,000-yard figure means nothing to Green-Ellis, who figures 1,000-yard rushers are pretty common in his neighborhood back home.
“To be honest with you, yeah. There are probably several there,” he said. “To me, 1,000 yards means just that … that I rushed for 1,000 yards.”
It doesn’t mean a whole lot to Dan Werner, either.
The Rebels’ offensive coordinator sees the milestone, if Green-Ellis is able to reach it, as measurable progress, but he’s more surprised that more than 100 years of Ole Miss football has produced just three 1,000-yard rushers.
“A thousand-yard rusher is something we feel we should have every year,” Werner said. “That’s the type of team we want to be.”
Maybe hometown friends would shrug him off, and maybe coaches can be tough to win over, but there are those in Green-Ellis’ Ole Miss neighborhood who want very badly for him to crack the mark.
“With all the talk about the OL not doing its job, it would mean a lot,” offensive tackle Michael Oher said. “We know we’ve been working hard and putting it together. It fires us up to think that he can get over 1,000 yards.”
The final 134 yards won’t be easy. The Rebels play at LSU next week, and the Tigers rank second in the SEC and sixth in the nation with just 71.4 rushing yards allowed per game.
Ole Miss closes the season at home Nov. 25 against Mississippi State.
His rushing yardage becomes more important when Green-Ellis considers what it means to his teammates.
Beyond that, it’s just a number in the least important of stat columns.
“I wish we’d have had more victories. That would have meant a lot more,” Green-Ellis said. “If I went home and said I ran for 3,000 yards, that might mean something, but not 1,000.”
Even 3,000 might not get him a break from Brumfield.
“She just says I get tackled too easy and that I need to run the ball better,” Green-Ellis said.