• John Macon Gillespie

Charles Thrives In The Trenches

Mississippi is a consistent producer of talented defensive lineman. Elite defensive lineman are even known to matriculate from the Magnolia state. Fletcher Cox is just one of the many guy dominating the defensive trenches in the NFL from the ‘Sip.

However, the state isn’t as well known for churning out offensive lineman. Though many offensive lineman from Mississippi do find themselves putting their talent together in college. Gabe Jackson wasn’t highly sought out in high school but is now one of the best in the NFL at his position, like Cox.

In some ways Madison-Ridgeland Academy junior two-way lineman Saahdiq Charles is a microcosm of the trend we’ve seen from Mississippi. He is big, dominant defensive tackle on the high school level, but college coaches prefer his potential on the offensive line looking towards the future.

Mississippi State and Southern Miss have already thrown their hats in the ring and offered Charles. So has Memphis, Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State. Then there’s plenty of interest from many other schools. Any why not? He stands at 6’5 and weighs in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. So what are coaches from prospective schools telling him?

“They say I have a better future at offensive line. They like that I can bend, my feet, stuff like that. My athleticism kind of surprises people,” Charles told SES Mississippi.

With it being a crucial offseason for making improvements Charles has his sights set on competing in the Fortius Project combine series this spring.

“I’m new to the offensive line so I’m trying to get better there coming up to camp season and the regular season,” Charles explained. “I just plan on showcasing my game.”

That is not the only sticking point that excites Charles about Fortius. Being surrounded by talented athletes like himself also has his attention.

“The competition and competing against the players that I’ve always wanted to compete against,” He said

While Charles will be working exclusively with the offensive lineman at Fortius, he will play on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball for MRA next season. That is good news for the Patriots who will look to make another run to the state title game in 2016 after coming up short in that very game in 2015.

“We’re putting emphasis on what we call a ‘plus-one effort.’ Make your next rep better than the last,” Charles said.

With star quarterback Hayden Davis coming back into the fold after an injury early in the season last year, the Patriots are poised to again be contenders to win it all. The plus-one effort to make each rep better than the last is also a good mindset for both Davis and Charles when they compete at Fortius.

**Photo by Lou Ann Woidtke.

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