Lots of potential in Jaheim Otis, one of Mississippi's top recruits

·2 min read

Dec. 4—HATTIESBURG — Pound for pound, the state's highest-ranked recruits were not on display for championship weekend at Southern Miss.

However, nimble defensive tackle Jaheim Oatis was there for Columbia, and he covers a lot of land by himself.

With the early signing day about a week and a half out, it's not hard to see the appeal even if Oatis — an Alabama commit since mid-April — didn't control play in the championship game.

A four-star prospect, Oatis is ranked as Mississippi's top recruit by 247 Sports. They have him as the No. 79 overall prospect, the No. 10 defensive tackle.

The size and athleticism at 6-foot-4, 340 pounds are obvious.

His dominance was not.

The Senatobia Warriors didn't run at him and often functioned well within that plan scoring early touchdowns through the air with a quick slant and a running back pass.

Touchdowns were soon tough to come by for either team, and there were none by either offense after halftime.

Columbia eventually claimed the Class 4A championship when Senatobia missed a 20-yard field goal in the final seconds.

Oatis typically shaded either side of the center but was rarely at the epicenter of the action. Senatobia linemen didn't blow him off the line but got under him or chipped him enough to keep him from blowing up the play.

Oatis stood three-quarters of a foot taller than Senatobia center Amarion Grant.

"We didn't change anything for him. We've been blocking big people all year," Grant said. "It wasn't anything different. He's a good player, but I'm satisfied with how we manned up and blocked. It's about having dog in you."

Recruiting commitments are often weak, and it wouldn't be shocking to see Oatis some place other than Tuscaloosa.

He seems to have interest in LSU and Ole Miss more than others.

Saturday wasn't his greatest individual performance, but recruiting is relational, months and sometimes years in the making before the papers are signed.

Columbia is now 14-1, and Oatis has had his share of big plays along the way.

Like professional drafts, recruiting is often about potential more than high school-level production.

In the never-ending search for athletic defensive tackles there's a world of potential in Jaheim Oatis.

PARRISH ALFORD is the college sports editor and columnist for the Daily Journal. Contact him at parrish.alford@journalinc.com.

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