January 14, 2008

Oher forgoes final season for NFL Draft

One of Ole Miss' biggest stars is taking his game professional.

Junior Michael Oher will declare for the NFL Draft, sources close to the program said Friday.

Oher, a 6-foot-5, 325-pound Memphis native, is projected as a late first-round or second-round pick by several scouting services.

The deadline for underclassman to declare is Tuesday.

A mock draft done for Rivals.com from Frank Croyle of Draftinsiders.com had Oher being selected 12th overall to the Denver Broncos.

Oher and the Rebel offensive line helped BenJarvus Green-Ellis rush for over 1,100 yards this season.

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt and offensive line coach Mike Markuson said Wednesday that they had been in contact with the big left tackle.

"We're recruiting him pretty hard," Nutt said.

Nutt said the league's draft evaluations had come back to the Rebel offices recently.

After Nutt was announced as the new Ole Miss head coach, Oher said he was leaning towards returning.

"I'm just waiting right now and trying to weigh my options. I want to see what Coach Nutt has to offer. I'm leaning toward returning," Oher said back in late November. "I really felt with all the stuff that he just told me in (a team meeting) that this could be fun.

"We have talent here, and we can win."

Oher came to Ole Miss as the centerpiece of ex-head coach Ed Orgeron's first recruiting class, when he was rated as a four-star prospect. He attended Briarcrest High School in Memphis, where ex-Rebel receivers coach Hugh Freeze coached him.

Oher's childhood, prep career and recruitment are the subject of Michael Lewis' best-selling book "The Blind Side." The movie rights to the book were sold and casting is reportedly underway.

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