Darryl Harris -

LG Darryl Harris

While Ole Miss Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson waits on some more quality depth to develop, he's got an ace up his sleeve. 6th-year senior Darryl Harris can play all five positions on the OL.

How valuable is a healthy Darryl Harris, the 6th-year senior offensive lineman for the Rebels?

Consider this and it may help you understand.

When starting Left Guard Reid Neely went down in preseason camp with an Achilles strain, Darryl was moved from rigth guard to left guard and the OL didn't skip a beat. There wasn't even a hint of a stutter with the change.

And toss this in on the value meter.

If any of the starting offensive linemen go down to injury, Darryl can effectively play their position. Think about it. Either tackle slot, either guard slot and even center.

Not many offensive linemen in the country can claim that type of versatility.

Oh, and to take it a step further and narrow it down even more, the Rebels are not real deep with game-ready players on the O-Line.

Markuson has said "7 or 8" deep, and he hesitated on adding the 8.

On a team with a real two-deep across the board, Harris' value may not be as appreciated. At Ole Miss, he's gold with diamond trimmings.

"Darryl makes it so we are not living on the edge so much," explained Markuson. "When you have a guy who can play any position and your have little, if any, dropoff at that position, it's a bonus and a very valuable asset."

Some of that comes from maturity. After all, we're talking about a player entering his sixth year who was viable enough to play significantly as a true freshman after the Rebel line suffered a couple of injuries. Even though his freshman experience was not very good by SEC standards, he was laying the foundation for a promising future.

Unfortunately, that future was hampered by two major injuries and, as a consequence, he was granted what amounts to two redshirt years, one being of the medical hardship variety.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Harris took those setbacks as a time to grow up and to learn.

Now, musical chairs along the offensive line is no big deal for him.

"I prayed for the 6th year. It was a big relief and blessing when I heard I had been granted another chance because my senior year (2007) was a nightmare with the injury," Harris said. "I did not want to go out like that.

"I get ragged a little out here. I get called Pop and The Fine Wine and The Vet. The guys give me mess every day, but I enjoy it. For an old guy, I'm hanging in here with these pups."

Darryl gets ribbed a lot, but he also gets leaned on.

"Everyone knows I've been through just about anything that can happen to a college player, so when the freshmen need help, they come to me," he continued. "I try to help them any way I can."

As the first game rapidly approaches, Harris feels the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fit.

"We still have some sharpening to do and we are anxious to see how we do in the first game so we can correct from there, but so far I have been pleased," he closed. "I think we are going to be pretty good across the board, not just up front.

"There is a different atmosphere on this team. I saw it starting to develop in spring training and it continued on through the offseason and into fall camp. We are tired of losing and we don't feel like there's any reason to lose now with the new coaching staff in place."

Rebel fans talk a lot about how badly DT Jerrell Powe "wanted it." And that is an epic story of commitment and trying when repeatedly knocked down, no doubt.

But Darryl Harris is, in a lot of ways, in the same boat.

How badly did he want the sixth year?

He went through a very tough spring training and offseason despite knowing there was a very good chance the extra year would be denied.

So, when you think about his value to the team, also think of his desire to be on it for one last shot.

And, while "everyone" is talking about Dexter McCluster's versatility, which is certainly valid, Darryl Harris, in his own right, may be even more versatile.

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