Ole Miss' Oher, Jerry Selected in NFL First Round

By Jeff Shepard - bio | email

New York  (University of Mississippi SID) - For the first time in school history, two Ole Miss Rebels have been chosen in the first round of the National Football League draft in the same year, as Michael Oher and Peria Jerry were selected among the top 24 picks here Saturday.

Oher, an offensive tackle, was taken with the 23rd overall pick by the Baltimore Ravens, while Jerry, a defensive tackle, was chosen No. 24 by the Atlanta Falcons. Their selections give the Rebels 19 NFL/AFL first round picks in their history and five in the last six years, most recently Patrick Willis with the No. 11 selection of San Francisco in 2007.

Ole Miss joins only Georgia and Southern Cal with two draftees in the first 24 picks.

"It's a good day for Ole Miss and the Ole Miss family," said Rebel head coach Houston Nutt. "These two guys worked hard this year and deserved to be selected in the first round.

"Hopefully, we'll have more, if not today, then tomorrow. We'll definitely have more drafted in the future."

While this marks Ole Miss' first season with two players drafted in the NFL first round, the Rebels did have one player taken in the NFL first round and another in the AFL first round in 1966, prior to the merger of the two leagues.

Stan Hindman was selected 11th by the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, while Mike Dennis was drafted by the AFL's Buffalo Bills.

A two-time All-American and consensus First Team honoree as a senior, Oher is the third Ole Miss offensive lineman to be drafted in the opening round and highest since center Ed Beaty was tabbed No. 10 by the Los Angeles Rams in 1954.

Center Chris Spencer was selected No. 26 by Seattle in 2005.

Oher becomes the 11th offensive player chosen and the highest since Eli Manning went No. 1 in 2004.

"I'm happy to be a part of the NFL," said Oher, who is the first Rebel to be drafted by the Ravens in their 13-year history. "It has been a long dream. Baltimore just got a great player. I'm not going to let them down. I'm going to give them everything I have. I could have gone in the seventh round. I can't wait to get started."

A First Team All-American and four-time SEC weekly award winner in 2009, Jerry is the Rebels' eighth defensive player and fifth tackle taken in the first round of the draft. Jerry becomes the highest DT chosen since Tim Bowen was the 20th selection in 1994. Ole Miss' highest defensive pick came in 1963 with tackle Jim Dunaway going No. 3 overall to Minnesota but later signed with Buffalo of the AFL.

Jerry is the first Rebel drafted by the Falcons since Roell Preston was their fifth-round pick in 1995.

"I'm really excited about being drafted by Atlanta," Jerry said. " I kinda had a good feeling that they would take me, because the Falcons showed me the most interest. Getting a chance to play in the NFL is a dream come true. I'm blessed to have this opportunity."

A native of Memphis, Oher received the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the SEC's best blocker and was one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy. The 6-foot-5, 318-pounder helped the Rebels rank second in the SEC in rushing with

186.5 yards per game and fourth in sacks allowed with 1.5 per game in 2008.

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