Jerrion Ealy is "Playing Chess" with the Ole Miss Defense

The original Queen's gambit worked because of the surprise. Intentionally sacrificing your most valuable piece to get inside an opponent's head. Jerrion Ealy is working to do the same with SEC linebackers in 2020.
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The original Queen's gambit worked because of the surprise. Intentionally sacrificing your most valuable piece to get inside an opponent's head. 

Jerrion Ealy is working to do the same with SEC linebackers in 2020. 

The sophomore who was a Freshman All-American in 2019 while averaging 6.9 yards per carry believes he left many more yards on the field one year ago. A big way to fix that problem is by doing a better job of setting up defenders. 

"I want to be able to take advantage of everything the defense is giving me," Ealy said. "It's moving around pieces. It's kind of like I'm playing chess with (linebackers) now. I want to move them one way then do the opposite."

It's not just cutback runs to break an out-of-position linebacker. It's taking better angles and using changes of speed to get defenders to overpursue.

In reality, it's been over a decade since Ealy had this much time off. 

When baseball was cancelled in March, he didn't exactly know what to do. He jokes that all he did for five months was work out and then watch television all day. 

In his eyes, the quarantine aspect of the pandemic was a bit of a blessing. Players didn't put pads on once between the Egg Bowl and the start of camp last week. It's the first time he feels 100-percent in... ever?

"Everyone is kind of on my schedule now," Ealy said. "Most players have the spring and put pads on in the spring... it's the first time we've been in pads since that school wherever they're at, I don't want to talk about them anymore."

Now a sophomore, Ealy is sort of the 'old head' in the backfield. Fellow true sophomore Snoop Connor will get some work behind him, as will a pair of true freshmen in Henry Parrish Jr. and Kentrel Bullock. 

As a freshman, he totaled 894 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns, despite not always starting. Playing chess in 2020 might be the way to get Ole Miss over the hump and Ealy into the SEC's elite.

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