September 11, 2008

Ole Miss still eyeing JUCO OL

Ole Miss is looking to sign anywhere from six to eight offensive linemen, and at least a couple of those could be junior college prospects if the right ones are availabile.

Priority for junior college signees will likely include those who graduate in December and can enroll next January and go through spring practice before being thrown in the trenches next fall to replace the likes of Michael Oher, Darryl Harris and Maurice Miller - all seniors on the Rebel defensive line this season.

One prospect that Ole Miss has offered and continues to recruit is former Augusta, Ga.-area offensive tackle James Carpenter.

Carpenter, a 6-foot-5, 305 pound former Iowa State signee, has begun his sophomore season at Coffeyville, Kansas C.C. and continues to hear from Rebel offensive line coach Mike Markuson, who is recruiting him for Ole Miss.

"He's just calling and telling me how he hopes I get down there at Ole Miss," Carpenter said on Wednesday. "He wants get me down to visit and said they really like me."

Carpenter was rated as a two-star prospect coming out of high school and didn't receive many offers. However, in junior college, he as named first team all-conference and a Region Six All-American after his freshman season last fall and is attracting a lot of interest.

He has offers from Ole Miss, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State, and recently picked up his fourth offer - from Florida International. He said he's also hearing from coaches from Auburn and South Carolina as well as coaches from OSU, Iowa State and Ole Miss.

"I'm just trying to get all the offers in that I'm going to get," he said. "I just want to look around and see what's out there before I make a decision."

For now, a decision appears to be at some point after his season ends.

He has set up one visit date - on Oct. 17 - to go to Iowa State and said he'll likely visit Ole Miss after his season is over.

While Iowa State could be the team to beat based on him previously signing with that team, the allure of returning closer to home could also be a factor.

"I'd love to get back to the South," he said. "I really miss that good Southern cooking."

Carpenter is looking at several criteria when it comes to furthering his college career.

"Playing time is always important," he said. "I want to go somewhere where I can play and where I'll be developed for the NFL. Coaches are also important, and I want to go somewhere where the team is going to win some games."

Carpenter said he missed a chance to see Ole Miss play on national television last weekend, when the Rebels lost a thriller to Wake Forest, because of an away game in Colorado last Saturday. Coffeyville beat Air Force Prep 46-26. The Red Raiders dropped their opener to Navarro C.C. 19-10 a week earlier.

He said he currently doesn't have a leader from among the four teams that have offered.

He will have three years to complete two years of eligibility when he enrolls in a four-year university.

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