April 5, 2011

Rebels make pitch to junior college star

Denico Autry wasn't exactly a household name after his high school career in North Carolina.

His defensive coordinator at East Mississippi Community College, William Jones, believes that will change in the next few years.

It appears plenty of college coaches agree with Jones, as the offers are starting to pour in for the 6-foot-6, 250-pound strongside defensive end.

Jones compares Autry's skill set to those of NFL standouts Willie McGinest, Julian Peterson and Jason Taylor.

"I'm not saying he's that good, but when you think of that kind of player who can impact the game and do those kinds of things, he can do that," Jones said.

Autry missed half of last season with a fractured foot. He came back with 13 tackles and three sacks against Pearl River Community College after missing a month of practices.

"He's a different kind of player," said Jones, who is also the associated athletic director at East Mississippi. "Denico was raw when we got him. He's really developed. He's a unique player, very unique in the fact that he can go speed to power. He can rush over you or run around you. He's got extremely big hands and long arms. He's a great competitor and a natural athlete. He can play up or play down."

Autry said the junior college experience has "changed my game a whole lot. It made me tougher and I know a lot more now than I did."

Now, Autry is sorting through college choices. Autry visited Ole Miss Saturday for the Rebels' junior day. Ole Miss is one of 11 schools to offer scholarships to Autry and one of four _ along with Mississippi State, Alabama and Tennessee _ that seem to really have his attention at this point.

"I want to know if I can fit in with the program and stuff like that," Autry said. "(Ole Miss) said they see me playing a little bit of linebacker and a little bit of end. It doesn't matter to me. I'm a tough, hard-nosed kid that wants it. I'm hungry."

Autry said he won't make a decision until he completes the upcoming season at East Mississippi.

"I'm watching schemes and I want to see where I fit in and if I can hang with the guys," Autry said.

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