Projected by many to be the NFL Draft's first overall selection, Laremy Tunsil says he's ready to protect Marcus Mariota if the Titans choose him.
It was a stressful four days at the NFL Scouting Combine for Laremy Tunsil, the projected No. 1-overall pick from Ole Miss in this year's draft. Up early, to bed late and lots of interviews in between workouts and press requests.
Such is the life for a prospect that is figured to become the third offensive lineman to be selected first overall since Hall-of-Fame inductee Orlando Pace in 1997. That would mean landing with the Tennessee Titans, who would like to protect their prize quarterback Marcus Mariota.
"I've got great feet, man. I'm here to protect Mariota," Tunsil said. "I will put it all on the line. I will give them everything I can to protect Mariota."
NFL media analyst and former offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara said Tunsil, listed at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, is "like a corvette" on the field while NFL Draft expert Mike Mayock believes Tunsil has very similar qualities to Redskins left tackle Trent Williams.
"They both have ballerina feet," Mayock said. "They have enough length, especially with their arms. And, they can create movement in the run game."
"I think I have the great feet, the great frame," Tunsil said. "I just think I'm the best. You've got to have that swagger about yourself. You've got to be confident. Everywhere you go you've got to have that confidence."
Tunsil, leaving school before his senior year, broke his fibula in the first half of the Peach Bowl during his sophomore season. The following summer, Tunsil was accused of taking improper benefits from agents prompting head coach Hugh Freeze to bench him for the beginning of the 2015 season. Tunsil was later further suspended by the NCAA and missed six more games.
The adversity – both physical and legal – helped Tunsil, who considered leaving the school once the penalty was handed down.
Check out images of offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil during his collegiate career at Ole Miss.
"You've got to stay humble during that process," he said.
Part of that meant deciding to serve his suspension at Ole Miss and make the second half of his year count.
"Of course you have thoughts, missing seven games, the NCAA not returning your calls or nothing like that. You're going to have thoughts," Tunsil said. "I had to sit down with coach Freeze and really talk to him about it…I talked to my momma, talked to coach Freeze.Wanted to be with my teammates. Didn't want to leave my teammates at all. We're brothers"
Even with missed time, Tunsil proved himself a highly capable player. In 28 career games played, he's been responsible for only two sacks. This past year he was a second-team All American and All-SEC first teamer. And in his five games -- all against SEC West teams -- the Rebels went 4-1 and averaged 200.6 rushing yards per game along with 506.0 total yards per game.
Tunsil has no problem admitting he still needs improvement in certain areas, though. He wants to become more vocal on the field and knows that his run-blocking still needs some work.
Though, if the Titans are serious about protecting Mariota, those deficiencies should promise not to make a major impact their decision-making.
"Everybody wants to be the No. 1 pick," Tunsil said. "Being the No. 1 pick would be great. I'd love to play for any team. That's been my goal since I was a little kid, man, just to accomplish one of them goals, it would be great."