It's no secret that Ole Miss is in the market big-time for offensive lineman after the 2008 season with the loss of seniors Michael Oher and the versatile Darryl Harris, who can play any position along the line.
One big lineman who made an unofficial visit to Ole Miss this weekend for the Memphis game was Northeast Miss. C.C. offensive tackle Heath Blount.
Blount, 6-foot-5, 295, went un-recruited out of high school at Bayou Academy in Cleveland, Miss., but is emerging as a budding prospect as he begins his sophomore season this fall in Booneville.
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While Blount grew up in nearby Cleveland, the visit to Ole Miss was one of very few experiences he's had at college football games.
"I've probably only been to four or five college football games in my life," Blount said on Sunday after going through practice for Northeast on his return to Booneville. "I went to the Ole Miss and Arkansas game, I don't know what year it was (it was 1999), but Ole Miss opened the game with Deuce McAllister running the opening kick off back for a touchdown. I was in the south end zone; it's changed a lot since back then."
Several aspects of his trip made an impression on Blount, but none more than getting to watch Michael Oher playing at left tackle - Blount's position at Northeast.
"I was so impressed with the way he looks and plays," Blount said. "Ole Miss played well, and Memphis isn't exactly a horrible team. Those are Division I-caliber defensive linemen out there and Michael Oher makes it look so easy. He's just a natural, just made to play football. I saw the block he made on the touchdown and he was handling his man out there on the edge with one hand and had the other hand up in the air to signal a touchdown. That was just awesome, but he did that more than once, he made those types of pulling blocks several times."
Blount also got to take in the Grove and was impressed by the atmosphere.
"I've never seen anything like that," he said. "Of course, I wouldn't be getting to tailgate before games, but just seeing that support was amazing. I think they must have had twice as many people in the Grove as they did at the game."
During his trip, Blount had the occasion to talk to two Ole Miss coaches.
"Just before the game, Coach (Houston) Nutt came over and talked to us for a couple of minutes," he said. "I was impressed that he had so many things going on during game day and took time to do that. Coach (Mike) Markuson kind of singled me out and came over and spoke to me."
Blount currently has offers from UAB and Louisiana Tech, a team that beat Mississippi State on Saturday, and received some interest from another school on Sunday as Arkansas called.
Blount said earlier that he's not going to jump at the first offer that comes along, and reiterated that on Sunday.
"I plan to take unofficial visits to all three in-state schools during the season," he said. "With us playing on Thursday, I can do that. Then, once the season is over, I'll look to take some officials to other schools that are farther away, like Arkansas and maybe Kansas State.
Blount isn't sure if he'll take another unofficial visit to Ole Miss this fall, but plans to take an official visit before he signs in December.
Blount was a full qualifier out of high school and therefore doesn't have to graduate from junior college to play at the Division I level after he finishes his football career at Northeast.
Bonus note: Blount was to be teamed with former Ole Miss player Jamal Harvey this fall at Northeast. However, Blount confirmed on Sunday that Harvey is no longer on the team, apparently, falling victim of grades for a second time - he had flunked out of Ole Miss in the spring of 2007. He told RebelSports.net last week that he was on track to play this fall at Northeast; however, there were apparently some issues with online courses that have resulted in him being ineligible at Northeast. He did not play in Northeast's loss at Holmes on Thursday.