Mississippi OT Michael Oher wants to show his fire
Mississippi OT Michael Oher wants to show his fire
Michael Oher is one of several offensive tackles in the draft pool whom the Rams might be considering as a potential replacement to Orlando Pace (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
MOBILE, ALA. — What's the book on Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher?
Well, it's already been written. Michael Lewis' book: "The Blind Side, Evolution of a Game," chronicles Oher's troubled youth and rise from obscurity to highly coveted college football recruit.
Oher (pronounced "Oar") grew up in rundown part of Memphis. His father, who wasn't around during Oher's youth, was murdered. His mother was a crack cocaine addict. Over a nine-year period, Oher attended 11 different schools as he drifted through various foster homes and even through periods where he had no fixed address. MORE RAMS
It was only when a wealthy couple brought him into their home and enrolled him in an elite private high school — Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis — that his life turned around and his football career blossomed.
In just one year of football at Briarcrest Christian, Oher became one of the most highly rated college prospects in the South. In 2004, longtime recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said: "Michael Oher's athletic ability and his body — the only thing you could compare it to was Orlando Pace."
Oddly enough, Oher now is one of several offensive tackles in the 2009 NFL draft pool whom the Rams might be considering as a potential replacement to Pace, the seven-time Pro Bowler at left tackle.
"Blind Side" was published in 2006. An epilogue probably is necessary because after four years at Ole Miss, Oher is considered one of the top four offensive tackle prospects in the draft and a potential top 10 pick.
The Rams are among several teams that have met with Oher during Senior Bowl week. When reminded that the Rams had the No. 2 overall pick, Oher laughed and said, "I think I'd take that any day. Who wouldn't?"
Virginia's Eugene Monroe, Alabama's Andre Smith and Baylor's Jason Smith also are potential top 10 picks at offensive tackle in the draft. But none of them is at the Senior Bowl. As a result, Oher (6-5, 310) has stood out among the tackle prospects during the practice week. In fact, some scouts feel he and Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji are the two best prospects, regardless of position, at the Senior Bowl.
Although confident in his abilities, Oher isn't ready to say he's the best offensive tackle in the draft.
"There's a lot of great tackles out there," he said. "I know I'm a great player myself. If you've been watching, I think I showed that."
Some scouts were watching enough of Oher's college tape to wonder about his effort and dedication to the game. They'd like to see him dominate more from snap to snap.
"He's not a killer in the run game," said one NFC scout. "But his pass protection is what you're looking for. He's light on his feet. This guy physically is what you're looking for. Talent-wise, he's a top guy. Depending on the other stuff, he could fall."
One of the reasons Oher said he stayed in school for his senior season at Ole Miss was to show that he could be more physical and dominating at the line of scrimmage.
"I'm two times the player I was last year," Oher said. "I got stronger. The technique got better. Fundamentals. We won games, too. I had a great senior year, I feel."
Not only was Oher a consensus all-American in 2008, he won the Jacobs Trophy as the best blocker in the Southeastern Conference. Oher started 47 consecutive games at Ole Miss, the last three as the Rebels' starting left tackle. After winning just 10 games — total — in his first three seasons, Oher and the Rebels went 9-4 this season including triumphs over LSU, Auburn and eventual BCS champion Florida, plus a Cotton Bowl upset victory over Texas Tech.
"Mike's kind of hard to beat," said Mississippi defensive end Jeria Perry, who like Oher is a member of the Senior Bowl's South squad. "You might beat him once or twice, but you ain't going to keep beating him, because he's going to compete. He can move for such a big guy.
"I really respect him for coming (here) even though he was rated probably one of the top picks in the draft. He's showing a lot of character by coming out here and competing with a lot of good players."
While some elite prospects bypass the Senior Bowl, figuring they have nothing to gain and everything to lose, Oher is trying to show NFL coaches and scouts this week in Mobile how much he loves to play.
"I'm a competitor; I'm a fierce competitor," Oher said. "People probably questioned that. I just wanted to come and show everybody I love the game of football. That's why I started playing. I wasn't playing to get to the NFL. I was just playing because I love it. That's why I'm here."
And that's why he intends to work out at the NFL scouting combine next month.
"Oh yeah," Oher said. "Why wouldn't I work out at the combine? That's why they've got it there — for you to work out."
Re: Mississippi OT Michael Oher wants to show his fire
I saw a few games this guy played in and with all he's been through and come out like he did, what a great pickup for the Rams.
I could see the Rams taking him, but like I have said before....I could see at least ten different prospects the Rams could take.