January 29, 2008

Alabama OL updates status with Ole Miss

Before Houston Nutt left Arkansas, Marbury, Ala. offensive tackle prospect Josh Tatum was firmly committed to the Razorbacks, but it didn't take long for the standout offensive lineman to determine that who he would be playing for was more important than where he would be playing.

"I got a call last November and was told that Houston Nutt was no longer at Arkansas," Tatum said Monday evening. "I didn't know what was going on or what to think and then about six hours later, I got a call that he was at Ole Miss."

"Arkansas is an 11-hour drive and with my mother being sick, I was just praying that things would work out," Tatum said.

His prayers was evidently answered.

Not only did Nutt arrive at Ole Miss, but he brought offensive line coach Mike Markuson with him, which was a dream come true for Tatum.

"What I like about coach Markuson is that he's straight up," Tatum said. "I've been to a lot of camps and I'm not saying all coaches aren't straight up, but he's been recruiting me since I was a junior. He's watched me, he's talked to me, and he's recruited me."

It wasn't long after the change at Ole Miss before Markuson was on the phone with Tatum.

"He told me that I had an offer at Ole Miss, and I could take that, or I could stick with my commitment to Arkansas and he'd understand that," Tatum said.

For Tatum, it was an easy decision.

"I want to play football for coach Houston Nutt and coach Mike Markuson," Tatum said.

Tatum hasn't waivered in that decision, but he still got a visit on Sunday from Nutt.

"We talked about signing day and my future at Ole Miss," Tatum said. "I'm planning on having a big signing day at my high school. I will be the first athlete from my high school who has signed with an SEC school."

The discussion also focused on Tatum's role at Ole Miss.

"I'm going to enroll in June and I hope to report in the best shape of my life," Tatum said. "We are not sure if I'll play as a true freshman, and it wouldn't hurt my feels to get a redshirt year to get bigger and stronger and adjust to the game, but I plan to be ready to play."

Between the phone calls prior to his commitment to Ole Miss and the visit on Sunday, one other thing that has made Tatum comfortable with his decision is an official visit he took on the weekend of Jan. 18.

"Oxford is a great place," Tatum said. "It's a small town with about 14,000 students and it's impressive that they can fill that 60,000 seat stadium. It goes to show how much they love their football."

It also wasn't lost on Tatum that Ole Miss was ranked by one publication as the No. 2 tailgate location nationally.

Tatum is protype offensive tackle size at 6-foot-6, 312 pounds and runs a 5.02 40-yard dash.

"The thing that caoch Markuson has always liked about me is the way I got after it as the Arkansas camps," Tatum said. "He said that if I continue to do that at Ole Miss, I have a very bright future ahead of me."

And one that's at a location seven hours closer to his home.

"Ole Miss has just worked out perfect," Tatum said. "It's far enough from home to be away, but close enough where I can get back home often."

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