OXFORD – Even five-star running backs can learn a thing or two.
For Jerrion Ealy, one of the speed guys in the Ole Miss backfield, the lesson is slow down.
I wasn’t around Ealy for his high school career at Jackson Prep. I’ve only spoken with him in interview settings since he’s been at Ole Miss, but that’s plenty for me to see that he’s a talker.
Most folks are cautious when they speak with the media, so in turn we have to read between the lines of what we’re hearing.
Ealy, though, comes across with humility even when his high school achievements and attention could have him pointed in the other direction. I don’t get a “look at me vibe” from him.
Once a projected first-round baseball draft pick and considered a longshot to choose college football, Ealy hasn’t stood before us with bold predictions of what he’ll do for Ole Miss football. It may turn out that he does wonderful things. Coaches, players and fans alike would love to see that, but it’s unbecoming for any player freshman or otherwise to spout off like that.
“They’re just looking to get me the ball in space. That’s all I know,” he said when asked earlier this week what role he might play Saturday at Memphis.
He won’t be nervous for his college debut.
“No, not at all. Just like any other game. Another game I’ve got to go out and play. I’m a man that lives by ‘If you go out and play hard God will take care of everything.’ So, go out, play hard, God will take care of the rest.”
My guess is Jerrion Ealy will touch the ball 10-12 times and that he’ll touch it in a creative way that we did not see during media viewing periods. We’ve heard that he could line up in the slot, but that’s something they’ve shown very little if at all when we’ve been around.
This offense is going to have a lot of movement and motion – a lot of eye candy – with the hope of drawing defenders out of position, so look for Ealy on the move. He’s got wheels.
Even with those wheels and with all the attitude that Jerrion Ealy could show, even at this early stage of his career, he’s taking a cue from a junior college transfer, albeit a very established one. Scottie Phillips, the starting running back, has encouraged Ealy to slow down – at least as it relates to hitting the hole at the line of scrimmage.
“I’ve become a more patient back. At first I was kind of hitting the holes too early and not allowing my blocks to fully set up. Watching (Phillips’) run scheme and watching him go about his thing every day, he’s taught me a lot of patience.”