Ole Miss junior Tight End Gerald Harris has not been a major threat in the passing game thus far,…
Ole Miss Redshirt Freshman Bradley Sowell has always given good effort. From the time he shed 50 pounds on a strict diet/workout regimen prior to reporting to Ole Miss before his true freshman year through a redshirt campaign and right up to the start of the 2008 season. But even Sowell will admit he's become even more motivated since the offensive coaches came up with a somewhat novel idea a few weeks back when senior Tight End David Traxler went out with a back injury. Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin approached Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson and asked about trying Sowell, who has been Michael Oher's backup at LT most of his still-young career. "I hadn't even thought about it," said Markuson, "but it was a great idea. Bradley is athletic enough to handle it and it gives our offensive line another 300-pounder in the lineup." There's no question Bradley was game. After all, his only claim to fame thus far was being the heir apparent to Oher, who has played every snap at LT this year, a trend that, barring injury, will continue. "I was ready for anything. I just wanted to get in a game and contribute," said Sowell. "I know I'm still young, but I've paid my dues and was hoping to play this year. The tight end situation has allowed that and I plan on making the most of it." As was noted, Bradley has always been known as someone who puts in the required effort, but there's another gear players have when they know they are going to see snaps in a game. It's human nature to reach for a little more when the reward is higher. "Getting to play has really boosted my confidence and spirits," said Sowell. "I wasn't down or anything about having to wait my turn to play when Michael is gone, but it's hard to keep your edge through a long season when you know you probably aren't going to play. "In this league, you have to have an edge. I've got that now and it's given me the boost I needed." Caoaches talk a lot about game experience. It would have been difficult for Sowell to take over for Oher next season without any, and he's getting that now. "It means a lot to me to get some experience because I can tell you games are a lot different from practice," he continued. "My first couple of plays in a game, I was kind of in shock at how fast things move. "My first snap, people were flying everywhere and it kind of startled me, but then I settled in and everything was OK. Now I know what I'm practicing for and how to get myself prepared better. My teammates have been telling me how much difference it was in practice and games, but until you experience you really don't know." Sowell knows he will be a tackle next season, but he's enjoying tight end while the opportunity is there. "It's kind of like left tackle where you are on an island in some ways. I'm enjoying it," he smiled. "I haven't asked the coaches to throw me the ball yet, but they have talked about putting me in a jersey in the 80s so the defense will have to respect me a little more in the passing game. "It would be cool if I did get a pass thrown my way. I think I could handle it." Bradley said he was very surprised when he was approached about playing some tight end. "I was laying in bed getting a little rest before practice and my phone rang. It was Coach Markuson wanting me to come in early to show me something," he explained. "He showed me some tight end stuff and asked me if I could handle it. "I was willing to give it a try and learn in practice, but I didn't know if they would really call my number or if I was just being prepared for an emergency. They put me in for 22 snaps against Arkansas that week and I did pretty good, so we've kept working on it." Against Arkansas and Auburn, two Rebel victories, the Rebel running game was very effective. It just so happens those are the two games Sowell has been inserted in the lineup. Coincidence or is he making that big an impact? Either way, Sowell is stoked about contributing to the team in a more meaningful way. "Like I said, it's great to actually go out there and perform in a real game. To have a hand in the winning is why I am here," Sowell closed. And it seems his part gets bigger by the week.
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