April 21, 2011

Tennessee lineman adds SEC West offer

Andrew Jelks picked up yet another scholarship offer Wednesday.

This one was "very significant," however, because of one major distinction.

Many schools have told Jelks, a 6-foot-6, 265-pounder from Paris (Henry County), Tenn., that he can be a dominant offensive tackle at the next level. Ole Miss, however, has been very specific in its recruitment of Jelks.

The Rebels view Jelks as a left tackle, perhaps the next in a lineage that has recently produced Baltimore Ravens star Michael Oher and three-year/NFL prospect Bradley Sowell.

"I was really excited about it," Jelks said Wednesday evening. "I know a lot about their program."

Specifically, Jelks said he knows a lot about Ole Miss offensive line coach Mike Markuson, who is entering his 14th season in the Southeastern Conference this fall (10 at Arkansas, four at Ole Miss).

"I've been on the phone quite a bit with him," Jelks said. "He's developed a lot of players. He said they're kind of young right now but they're about to do good things."

Jelks' stock has skyrocketed in recent weeks. He has picked up offers from Arkansas State, Cincinnati, Duke, Louisville, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, among others.

"My high school coach told me to prepare for it when I was a freshman," Jelks said. "I thought then he was just talking to me, trying to motivate me. I just kind of laughed at it."

No one is laughing now. Instead, Jelks is trying to do his due diligence and make sure he makes the right decision for his future. Jelks has been to Cincinnati, Tennessee and Vanderbilt on unofficial visits. He said he will "definitely" visit Ole Miss, likely in early June, and he plans return trips to see the Commodores and Volunteers at some point this summer.

Jelks acknowledged that "a lot of people expect me to go (to Tennessee)." However, Jelks said, public sentiment won't factor into his decision.

"I don't listen to them," Jelks said. "I have to do what's best for me."

Jelks said he is looking for a stable staff, a strong relationship with his future coaches and a program that's relatively close to home.

While he's evaluating college programs, Jelks is focusing on his development. Specifically, he's hoping to add another 10-15 pounds before the start of his senior season.

Jelks said he plans to cut his list of prospective suitors and then take his allotment of official visits. He said he doesn't plan to make a decision until sometime after his senior season is complete.

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