June 17, 2008

Rebels lead for versatile LB

Derrick Webb was probably the best linebacker at Ole Miss' 7-on-7 tournament last week, and the Memphis (Whitehaven), Tenn., star wasn't even playing his most natural position.

Webb is probably destined for a college career as an outside linebacker, but he was playing in the middle during the 7-on-7 camp, and he looked like a natural doing it.

Webb, a 6-foot, 214-pounder during the spring, looked chiseled in Oxford. He said he's down to about 210 pounds, though he feels stronger and quicker now than he did during the spring.

"We've been working like champions," Webb said. "This is our third week in the weight room. We work hard. Sometimes I feel like I'm already in college. At 210, I'm not worried about weight. I feel like a coach would take my speed over another linebacker's size any day. It's harder to get somebody fast than it is to get somebody big."

One of the coaches who apparently covets Webb is Ole Miss running backs coach Derrick Nix, who is recruiting Webb and his Whitehaven teammate, cornerback Gene Robinson, for the Rebels. Nix visited with Webb and Robinson during the one-day event held on the Rebels' practice fields and inside the indoor practice facility.

"It was kind of like an unofficial visit," Webb said. "They had already offered me, and I could tell they had their eyes on me. I saw Coach Nix. He was like, 'What do I have to do to get you down here in the red and blue?'"

Webb laughed as he recalled the story. Asked what he told Nix, Webb gave a thoughtful answer.

"I don't know how close I am because it's such a long process," Webb said. "The season hasn't even started, and recruiting is going slow. I don't feel like I know too much about them. I don't know a lot of people there. I haven't spent a lot of time there. I know they have nice facilities and I like their coaches. So as far as me feeling at home, I wouldn't go there yet."

However, Ole Miss is clearly in the lead for Webb's services for a number of reasons.

"They're in the SEC," Webb said. That's big to me. Plus, it only takes like an hour to get down there. It's easy for me. It's easy for my family. So far, Coach Nix is my favorite coach."

Webb sports offers from Ole Miss, Southern Mississippi, Mississippi Valley State and Middle Tennessee. Vanderbilt and Colorado are showing heavy interest and could be on the verge of making offers as well.
"It's always been steady," Webb said. "Coaches always say they're close, but when the season starts and they come out to see us play, I think my offers and my recruiting are going to pick up tremendously. When they see me first-hand, they can't help to offer. I'm going to come to play every Friday."

When they do, those schools will have a lot of catching-up to do. Webb said he's already thought about that scenario, and he knows Ole Miss' early entry into the race for his signature will be noted.

"It means something, I can tell you that," Webb said. "You can tell how much they really want you in contrast to people who jump on the bandwagon late. I'll be like, 'I told you so.' Ole Miss has been trying to get me for a long time, so that shows something about Ole Miss and how much they want Derrick Webb."

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