High school football kicks off in less than four weeks.
In preparation for the 2015 season, The Clarion-Ledger is evaluating each position and which players are primed for a breakout season.
Next up is a look at six Mississippi offensive linemen to keep an eye on this fall.
Javious Bardney, senior, Callaway
The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder has the versatility to play both tackle and guard for the Chargers. Bardney played a big part of anchoring a Callaway offensive line that allowed its ground game to flourish for an average of 200 rushing yards per game last year. Bardney is athletic and has length to boot. His strength is his power to anchor against an oncoming defensive lineman and keep the pocket from collapsing.
Greg Eiland, senior, Philadelphia
The Tornadoes finished tied for first in Region 5-3A thanks to a dominant rushing attack that averaged 237.8 yards per game. Eiland is raw but has strong skills as a run blocker and is developing an edge as a pass blocker. At 6-foot-7, 330 pounds, the three-star prospect has the size of an offensive tackle that college coaches and recruiters drool over. He’s still working into his frame and perfecting how and where to line up. His upside has drawn the interest of Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas, among others. Eiland could be deciding where he’ll head to college within the next week.
Scott Lashley, senior, West Point
Prior to the middle of February, Lashley had no FBS offers. After Mississippi State extended an offer, Lashley blew up and is one of the most sought after linemen in the state. His production was limited last year but when he gets more reps and more experience under his belt, expect this four-star prospect to be the become the most dynamic offensive lineman in Mississippi. Lashley worked on pass protection skills in camps and is on his way to becoming the total package. At 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, Lashley moves well for his size and has shined with his flexibility, footwork and ability to finish off blocks.
Eli Johnson, senior, Lafayette
The first team All-State selection is so versatile on Lafayette’s O-Line and can play tackle, guard or center. He recorded 41 pancake blocks as a junior and helped the Commordores rush for an average of 182 yards per game in 2014. Lafayette’s offensive attack is backed by Johnson and the four-year starter is the type of player a quarterback would want to protect him. Johnson’s lower body strength enables him to perfect blocking schemes and anchor the line of scrimmage.
Gentle Williams, senior, Florence
Williams is a gem among this group of senior offensive linemen. He’s incredibly athletic and has an active set of hands and feet. A summer spent in the weight room will help him mature in his 6-foot-3, 280 pound body. Florence reached the playoffs last year behind its strong ground game that averaged 340.7 yards per contest. Williams opened up lanes for his running backs and held strong in run blocking.
Dareuan Parker, senior, DeSoto Central
If the Jaguars are going to be successful this season, it’s in large part due to what they possess at left tackle. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder adapts well and can recover in a matter of seconds. He plays heavily with instincts and knows how to time his blocks. Cam Bowman’s success under center relies heavily on Parker’s protection. The multiple year varsity starter has the length to stop players from coming off the edge and can his direction quickly keep defensive lineman from reaching the backfield.
Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.