Ole Miss football

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2007

Attending the Panola County Rebel Club meeting Tuesday night were Ole Miss head football coach Ed Orgeron (fifth from left) and his coaching staff front row, left to right) Kyle Strongin, Paul Argiro, Jay Jones, Hugh Freeze, David Corrao, Tony Hughes, Chris Rippon, Frank Wilson; (second row, l to r) Joel Rodriguez, Brad Villavaso, Kent McLeod, Dan Werner, Ed Orgeron, Art Kehoe, Ryan Nielsen and John Thompson. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Ole Miss Rebel coaching staff entertains Rebel Club

By Angie Ledbetter

The Panola County Rebel Club met at the Panola Country Club on Tuesday, July 31 at 6 p.m. with Ole Miss Rebels head football coach Ed Orgeron and his staff as guests.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

It was standing room only at the club, as everyone listened to hear what the fired up coach and his staff had to say about the upcoming season and the power house of South Panola. Orgeron thanked everyone for their loyal support and for giving him great athletes from Panola County.

“Most guys thought we were late tonight,” Orgeron said. “We were not late. We were riding around Batesville looking for talent. We saw a young man about 6’3”, 310 going in 7/11 (Kangaroo) so we all decided to go buy some sunflower seeds.”

Everyone laughed in appreciation.

“The South Panola boys are leaders,” said Orgeron. “They know how to win it. Not only do they play great defensive line, tackle, and strong safety, they do anything on the team that it takes to win.”

Orgeron was upbeat about newcomer Chris Strong of Batesville.

“We are so excited to have Chris Strong,” he said. “We are so excited to have him,  the No. 1 player in the state of Mississippi. He is a darn good football player. We’re going to let him start at middle linebacker. I expect him to be at camp this week.”

There are still some committee things to get cleared about Strong, according to Orgeron, but he expects everything to be cleared.

“It’s not final yet,” Orgeron said. “We should know something in the next couple of days. Chris is a little heavy right now. I know he’s a great player. We are going to give him a shot. If he does it, we will put him on the defensive line. The thing is, he is going to be on the field. He is a tremendous player.”

Orgeron wished South Panola and the coaching staff all the luck in the world.

“I think that you got a great coach,” said Orgeron pointing at Coach Lance Pogue. “I want to thank everyone for their support. I see lots of great friends here tonight. Mr. Bobby Dunlap, you’re the best. You really mean a lot to me and my coaching staff.”

Orgeron said this year their word is to “finish.”

“We were outscored 3-1 last year in the second quarter,” he said. “We finally have a full squad. In some positions we are three deep.”

He asked his staff, “Ain’t it nice fellows?”

Last year, Orgeron said depth was a problem.

“In some places we were one and a half deep,” he added. “It is nice to have that and be pressed to make up three points at LSU, three points at Alabama, five points at Georgia, and six points at Auburn. We want to find a way to finish and make that difference.”

Offensive line coach Art Kehoe talked about the speed limit in Panola County.

“I drove Coach O’s hummer over here and he warned me about the speed limit here,” Kehoe said. “The first thing that I found out when I first got to Oxford, Mississippi was you better know where Batesville and Panola County is. There are a lot of good players down there.

“We are talking about scrimmaging them in two Saturdays,” said Kehoe laughing.  

Orgeron chipped in that he hoped that Ole Miss was ready. The crowd laughed with approval.

Kehoe gave an update on John Jerry.

“John Jerry has lost about 20 pounds now,” he said. “He is a stealthy 344 pounds. We are going to a Bowl this year!”

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner said, “We’re so excited about this place and obviously all of the players that we have from here. We are going to win a lot of ballgames from the people who came from this place.”

Defense coordinator/ defensive back coach John Thompson is the new member on the staff.

He said, “If we can get Peria Jerry lined up front, we get Chris Strong at linebacker, we get Jamarca Sanford at safety, we are going to be dad gone good on defense. There is no doubt about it.”

Thompson also said that they were thinking about changing their name to South Panola East.

Special teams and defensive backs coach Chris Rippon said Jamarca Sanford was the first player that he met after moving to Oxford from Syracuse.

“I had to get Coach Thompson to tell me what Jamarca was saying,” Rippon said. “I thought that everybody in Batesville talked that way.”

Rippon also said that South Panola, Panola County and Ole Miss have a good relationship.

Recruiting coordinator and wide receiver coach Tony Hughes is responsible for recruiting in Panola County and the Delta area. He is proud of the South Panola kids.

“We have great expectations from Jamarca Sanford this year,” said Freeze. “We are really excited about what he’s doing at Ole Miss not just as an athlete but as a student athlete. He is doing very well and close to getting his degree.”

The coaching staff is looking for bigger things from Peria Jerry this year.

“We are looking forward to Peria Jerry being a force this year,” Freeze said. “This is his break out year.

“John Jerry has great potential, great size, great speed, great talent, and great everything,” Freeze added. “We are looking forward to watching him.”

Freeze also reported on Strong.

“We just signed Chris Strong who will be reporting with us this week. Chris is a tremendous talent,” Freeze said. “I appreciate all of your help that you have given us through the years recruiting.”

Other coaches who attended the function were Dave Corraro, linebacker coach; Ryan Nielson, defensive line coach; Frank Wilson, running back coach; Kent McLeod, assistant athletic director for football operations; Kyle Strongin, director of operations; Brad Villavaso, graduate assistant and defensive assistant; Paul Argiro, filming; and Aaron Ausmus, strength and conditioning.

Ole Miss opens its season September 1 at Memphis.