"I went over to Ole Miss Saturday and Sunday with my mother," Middleton
said. "I just wanted to see how they do their pregame and how game day
would be like."
Middleton returned to Oxford for the third time in as many months.
"The first time I came up there with my aunt and the second time I came
up there with my dad. This time I wanted my mother to get a better feel for
it since that's where I'll be spending my next four years."
What did Middleton's mother think of Ole Miss?
"She loves it. She can't wait for me to get started there. She likes how
safe it is in Oxford, their academic support staff and she loves their coaches.
Like I do."
What did the 6' 2", 250-pounder think of the Ole Miss pregame routine?
"I like how they do it. It's a little unorthodox, and that's why I like
it so much. I've been to a few game days and see how they prepare for them
and nobody does it quite like Ole Miss. They make it fun. I liked that. For
example, they all start clapping together in the pregame and get all fired
up and start their pregame cheers. They make it like a big party. They even
introduce their special teams players and get them to stand up in front of the
team. They just make everyone feel important and a part of the team. It's unique."
What did the Gadsden, Ala., product like most about the trip?
"I just like their staff. They make you feel so welcomed and treat you
like you are already a part of their family. You can't bring in any cell phones
or wear a hat in their team meetings. They're very serious about everything
but keep it loose at the same time. It's a nice blend. They went over all of
the player rules with me and my mother and it's pretty strict, but at the same
time, they keep everything loose."
Ole Miss uses a hybrid defensive end which allows that player to rush the passer
at end and drop back at linebacker in other formations. This is the role Middleton
will play at Ole Miss.
"They want me to get after the passer and play some end in the 4-2-5 package
and then drop back in coverages and play outside linebacker in the 4-3 package.
It's like a hybrid end and linebacker. That's the best way I can put it. I
watched Ralph Williams and Temario Strong during their practices and really
like how they use him. I've played a lot of end and linebacker in high school
so I know how to do both."
What is Middleton's current size and what does Ole Miss want him to report at?
"I'm 6' 1", 247 right now. Coach (Chris) Kiffin was telling me that
my body can put on all the weight they need for it to so don't worry about
putting on any weight. I told him that I weighed 280 pounds in junior high so
that wouldn't be a problem if I needed to gain some weight. Coach Kiffin said they'll be playing me at about 255, 260 pounds at the hybrid position."
Did this visit reaffirm his belief that Ole Miss is the school for him?
"Oh yeah, I love it at Ole Miss. I had never really been around their campus
all that much. I just hung around their sports complex on my past visits but
Channing Ward and Trae Elston stayed with me after practice and showed me around
everywhere. I just like how the people are around there."
Gadsden opens its season against Florence on Friday.
"They have a really big young running back that is taking over for Beniquez Brown. He looks even tougher that Beniquez and he was a load to bring down.
He just bounces off of linemen left and right but I'm going to try and make
sure he does not bounce off of me. I should have a big game because Florence
likes to come right at you. I play on both sides at end so you can't hide from
me this year. Last year I played a lot of defensive tackle because we had a
couple of injuries up front and they needed someone to fill the spot. I just
wanted to do whatever I could to help the team, but I was getting a lot of double
and triple teams and they were running away from me. It was pretty frustrating."
Middleton broke his foot in the middle of his junior season and did not return
until the playoffs. This season he looking to redeem himself.
"I have a lot of personal goals I've set for myself. First off, I want
us to win the state championship. That's my most important goal. But as to
personal goals, I want to get 27 sacks and break the state record. I want to
have 85 tackles, play in the MS/AL All-Star game, named All-Area and State,
and score a defensive touchdown by a fumble return and picking off the quarterback.
And lastly, I just want to stay healthy this year. I don't want to miss any
plays. That's the biggest thing."
Yancy Porter is the Mississippi Scout for Scout.com and he can be reached at email@example.com