By Robert Wilson
OLE MISS’ JEREMY JAMES EARNS ALL-AMERICAN HONOR
Ole Miss redshirt freshman right guard Jeremy James did not allow a sack or a hit on the quarterback in almost 300 snaps in the final seven games this season.
His outstanding performance earned him a spot on the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American team this week.
The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Cumming, Ga., native was the only freshman guard in the SEC to grade more than 70 (74.5) by Pro Football Focus this season. James started every game for the Rebels and helped them become the No. 3 offense in the country. Ole Miss averaged a school record 555.5 yards per game. The Rebels broke the SEC record for total offense in conference games with 562.4 yards per game, beating LSU’s mark of 550 yards during its national championship and undefeated season last year.
James played in two games last year and was redshirted.
He was a three-star prospect and chose Ole Miss over Florida, Missouri, Nebraska and Miami.
MSU’S TYRUS WHEAT HAS BRIGHT FUTURE
Copiah-Lincoln Community College alumnus Tyrus Wheat was ranked as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country among junior colleges by 247 Sports. His success at Co-Lin continued at Mississippi State this season as a junior. The 6-2, 260-pound Wheat started eight games at outside linebacker and led the Bulldogs with five quarterback sacks. He also had an interception in MSU’s Armed Forces Bowl victory over Tulsa.
Wheat has another distinction. He played high school ball at Amite, La., the same school where Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith, wide receiver from Alabama, played. Wheat may be in the NFL like Smith one day if he continues to improve like he did this season.
NESHOBA CENTRAL ALUM WILL FRIEND NEW COACH AT AUBURN
Neshoba Central alumnus and former All-SEC offensive lineman Will Friend has been named the new offensive line coach at Auburn.
New Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin, who replaced Gus Malzan, convinced Friend to come from Tennessee to Auburn. Friend had been offensive line coach at Tennessee for the past three seasons.
“I’m happy to welcome Coach Friend to our staff here at Auburn,” Harsin said. “We both strongly believe that winning the line of scrimmage is one of the most important parts of a successful football team. His offensive lines have a history of being physically and mentally tough. We’re excited to have Will join the Auburn family.”
Friend was a Parade All-American at Neshoba Central and a two-time All-SEC offensive guard at Alabama before starting his coaching career. He has made stops at West Alabama (offensive line in 2001), Tuscaloosa Central High (offensive assistant in 2002), Georgia (graduate assistant in 2003-04), Gardner Webb (offensive line in 2005-06), Alabama-Birmingham (offensive line in 2007-2010), Georgia (offensive line in 2011-2013 and running game coordinator/offensive line in 2014), Colorado State (offensive coordinator and offensive line in 2015-2017) and Tennessee (offensive line in 2018-2020) before coming to Auburn.
“I want to thank Coach Harsin for the opportunity to join his staff at Auburn,” Friend said. “I’ve coached against Coach Harsin and have always had so much respect for him and the culture he created within his program. Auburn is a special place and I have great regard for the Auburn football program, the university, and the incredible passion of the Auburn family. I’m excited to join something special at Auburn with Coach Harsin and the staff.”
Nine players Friend has coached have been selected in the NFL Draft.