Patrick Ochs

South Mississippi boasts strong group of offensive linemen heading into 2017 season

St. Martin junior Brandon Cunningham will play on both sides of the ball for the Yellow Jackets in 2017.
St. Martin junior Brandon Cunningham will play on both sides of the ball for the Yellow Jackets in 2017.

Quite literally this may be the strongest group of football players on the Coast heading into the 2017 season.

Offensive linemen don’t always get the credit they deserve, but this collection demands attention.

Here are five offensive linemen to know heading into the 2017 season:

Brandon Cunningham

School: St. Martin

Class: Junior

Breakdown: Brandon Cunningham is a versatile athlete and St. Martin plans to use the standout junior in every way possible. Predominantly a right tackle, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Cunningham will also see plenty of work at defensive end and could even play some tight end. Cunningham previously had offers from Southern Miss, Nicholls and Memphis but landed a Miami offer two weeks ago. Last weekend, while visiting “The U” for a camp, Cunningham committed to Hurricanes coach Mark Richt.

Alexis Galle

School: Biloxi

Class: Senior

Breakdown: A three-year starter, Alexis Galle will be the unquestioned leader up front for the Biloxi Indians. At 6-foot-1, 268 pounds Galle won’t be the biggest lineman around, but he’s strong and his experience will go a long way toward pass protecting quarterback Brodie King and clearing running lanes for sophomore running back Kenyatta Harrell. Galle reports an early offer from Holmes C.C.

Bryce Ramsey

School: Harrison Central

Class: Junior

Breakdown: Bryce Ramsey has the strength and size combination to be a dominant presence in the middle of the Red Rebels’ line. HCHS coach Casey Cain likes Ramsey’s mean streak, touting it as a real attribute. The HCHS staff also lauds the 6-foot-2, 340-pound Ramsey for his work ethic both on the practice field and in the weight room, where he’s one of 6A’s top powerlifters. Ramsey recently picked up a Florida State offer to go along with interest from Southern Miss, Memphis, Jackson State, South Alabama, Alcorn and others.

Louis Paul Smith

School: D’Iberville

Class: Junior

Breakdown: Louis Paul Smith was turning heads on the recruiting trail as early as his freshman year. D’Iberville loves to run the ball with Eric Collins calling the plays, and Smith is a key part of the Warriors’ success. The 6-foot-3, 294-pound Smith is a complete package along the line for the Warriors, with size, intelligence and leadership. Heading into his junior season he already has offers from Southern Miss, Troy, Nicholls and Louisiana-Monroe. He has also camped at Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn and other regional schools.

Brandon Tartavoulle

School: St. Stanislaus

Class: Senior

Breakdown: Brandon Tartavoulle will move from center to right tackle this year. New SSC coach Jeff Jordan said the 6-foot-2, 305-pound Tartavoulle has great feet, tremendous punch at the line of scrimmage and is plenty strong to handle either the chaos at the interior of a line or tackle positions. The senior Rockachaw currently has offers from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Jones County Junior College, but Jordan expects four-year interest to tick up once the season is underway.

But wait, there’s more

Here’s a couple more linemen to know: Resurrection’s Jackson Byrd, Hancock’s Devin Ladner, Pass Christian’s Travon Frost, Moss Point’s TeVaun Weatherspoon, and Picayune’s Benny Holifield.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs