NCAA clears Strong to play for Rebels|[08/23/07]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2007

OXFORD – There is little doubt the Ole Miss defense got a little stronger on Wednesday.

Chris Strong, rated last year as the No. 3 defensive end prospect in America, was cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse and certified as eligible for this season.

&#8220We’re excited about Chris representing the state of Mississippi at Ole Miss,” Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron said. &#8220Although he has things to learn while getting used to our system, Chris is going to be an excellent player at Ole Miss.”

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Strong, who is currently running with the first team defense at the middle linebacker position, had earlier been provisionally admitted to the university and allowed to practice with the Rebels for a maximum of 14 days while his eligibility was being determined by the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse.

A 6-foot-2, 245-pounder out of South Panola High School, Strong was a Parade All-American and helped lead South Panola to a fourth consecutive 5A state title in 2006. He ended his high school career with a perfect 60-0 record.

Jerrell Powe, a much balleyhooed defensive line recruit from Wayne County, has not yet been cleared by the NCAA to play this season.

Bower puts Eagles

through light practice

HATTIESBURG – The Southern Miss football team practiced in shorts and shoulder pads Wednesday, the first day of classes on the Hattiesburg campus.

&#8220We went light today,” coach Jeff Bower said. &#8220We needed to back off a little bit. The first day of school usually isn’t a good practice, so I decided to try something new in order to see if they could get a good mental frame of mind.

&#8220They came out and worked pretty well. It’s a different routine when you start school, so they seem to never practice as good as usual. I think we concentrated better and got a lot of fundamental things done.”

Injury bug biting

Mississippi State

STARKVILLE – Senior tight end Dezmond Sherrod and senior receiver Tony Burks were sidelined from Mississippi State’s practice Wednesday with injuries.

Despite the ailments, though, MSU coach Sylvester Croom said he was pleased with the team’s mental stability.

&#8220We worked extremely hard today,” Croom said. &#8220And we did it with a great attitude. The defense was flying around to the football. We’re getting set on who’s going to play where.”

Croom again praised the recent work of place-kicker Adam Carlson, who missed a good chunk of Wednesday’s workout with a late class. He also mentioned that non-scholarship kicker Brad Moore had a good day Wednesday and should serve as a dependable back-up to Carlson when the Bulldogs open their season next Thursday night, Aug. 30, against LSU.

Warren Central product Eric Richards, a freshman locked in a battle with Carlson for the starting kickoff job, broke two bones in his foot and is lost for the season.newalt vs Chris Wright; Tell Faulkner vs. Jeremy &#8220The Butcher” Bryant; Jason Gaskin vs. Brian Albin; and James Neely vs Wes Shivers.