Lodge Ready to Lead Rebel Receivers
Aug. 16, 2017

Aug 16, 2017

By Brian Scott Rippee, OleMissSports.com 

Wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge approached head coach Matt Luke at practice on Tuesday with an unusual request.

“He asked me if he could go in board drills, which is strange for a receiver,” Luke said.

The inquiry, albeit a small one in the middle of a steamy two-hour practice for the Rebels, was a sign of a trait Lodge has been working to improve this year. 

“I got better at blocking,” Lodge said. “I needed to be more physical. I took that and I ran with it. I have been working out and perfecting my blocking.”

The junior from Cedar Hill, Texas, sees the opportunity he has in front of him to lead a talented Ole Miss receiving corps on the field this season, and intends to make the most of it.

“Nothing is different, just more opportunities,” Lodge said. “A lot of guys left last year so more opportunities opened up. I have been working hard all summer, just like everyone else on this team and am just ready to play ball.”

Lodge struggled to find his footing his first two years, navigating through a loaded depth chart and adjusting to the college game. He caught a touchdown in his first career game in 2015 against UT Martin, but played sparingly after and elected not to redshirt.

He finished his sophomore campaign with 15 catches for 203 yard and a pair of touchdowns.

“It is frustrating for anyone who has to sit back and wait,” Lodge said.  “But at the end of the day it was a learning experience. I wouldn’t go back and change anything about it.”

He learned from guys like Laquon Treadwell, Damore’ea Stringfellow and Evan Engram while waiting for his time to come. The coaching staff raved about Lodge in the spring and he is following it up with a strong fall camp.

“He just seems to have a different look about him,” Luke said. “He’s confident. I think he is having fun and enjoying the offense.”


 

 

Lodge is an upperclassman now, leading by example for some of the younger guys like A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf.

“I think the receivers as a whole have done a good job of pushing each other,” Luke said.  “That is a cool thing to see them pulling for each other, blocking for each other and cheering for each other when someone makes a play, because you all know they want the ball. I have just been pleased with their unselfishness.”

Another thing Lodge learned from the guys that came before him was preparation and the importance of being mentally sharp as a receiver.

“You can’t let anything get to you mentally,” Lodge said. “If you have a bad practice, fine. Bounce back the next day and have a better one. Just being strong mentally.”

He’s enjoying the freedom and simplicity of Phil Longo’s offense, one that should have plenty of weapons on the perimeter this season. Lodge knows what the receiving group is capable of and what they can accomplish this season.

“We are a talented group,”  Lodge said. “We have a lot of guys that can play and should have futures in the NFL. We know what we can do and know the talent that we have, so we come out and try to get better every day.”

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