ARLINGTON, Texas — Ole Miss offensive lineman John Jerry used to practice against a guy who’s now in the NFL. His older brother. Peria Jerry is a defensive lineman who was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft last spring. Even though the Atlanta Falcons rookie is now on injured reserve, he helped make his younger brother into the player he is today.
For that, the Rebels can be thankful, because they might not be in the Cotton Bowl without the younger Jerry. "I can’t say enough about John,” Rebel offensive coordinator Kent Austin said. "He became a force for us in games, honestly, that got us here.” With the offensive line struggling — the loss of Michael Oher to the NFL left the Rebels reeling — the Ole Miss coaches moved Jerry from right tackle to right guard. He’s big at 6-foot-6. He’s strong at 335 pounds. And he’d played the inside position before. Still, it would’ve been easy for the team’s best offensive lineman to resist the change. He didn’t. "I’m not a negative guy,” said Jerry, who is quick with a laugh, a smile and even a joke. "I do whatever it takes for us to win.” Ole Miss center Daverin Geralds said, "He’d play anywhere on the line. He’s been dominant for us inside as well as outside.