Hugh Freeze seems to be captivated by guys who don't quite fit into traditional molds. Who else has a guy on roster who plays quarterback, tight end, and offensive tackle (after playing defensive end in junior college)? Who else has a saxophone hobbyist who plays defensive tackle when he's not running wheel routes out of the backfield or running fake punts? And who else has a 220 pound track star as an every-down defensive end in the rough and tumble SEC?
Freeze's next crazy project might come in the form of one Tariqious Tisdale, who has officially signed. At 6'5, 250 pounds, Tisdale split time at running back, defensive tackle, and middle linebacker for the Lexington, Tenn. Tigers. Ranked as a defensive end by some services and as an outside linebacker by others, Tisdale will almost certainly start out at linebacker, where depth is precariously thin. So unlike many of Freeze's roster experiments, Tisdale has to pan out.
Tisdale's highlights (mostly at RB and DT) show his exceptional quickness for his size, as well as his physicality. Tisdale absolutely has the size, speed, and toughness of an SEC football player. His experience at defensive tackle leads one to believe that he may be effective at shedding blocks, and his carries at running back speak for his running ability in the open field; Tisdale was much more than a goal line back.
I was curious though; how many elite linebackers are taller than 6'4? According to this article about tall NFL linebackers: not many. Even on this list, some of the tallest guys listed are traditional defensive ends, converted to linebacker for 3-4 alignments. However, as this article points out, there are some advantages to having height in the middle of a defense. Tisdale appears to have a big wingspan; his reach could muddy up otherwise open passing lanes.
How does he fit in?
Tisdale likely needs a year or two to adjust to a new position, but barring some position changes or other unexpected developments, he may be called on to contribute sooner than that. The Rebels lost CJ Johnson, Denzel Nkemdiche, and Christian Russell this year, and lose Terry Caldwell and Temario Strong to graduation this upcoming season. Ole Miss also hasn't had a tall, rangy linebacker in their 4-2-5 to compare with Tisdale. They've typically rolled with one stout, traditionally-sized linebacker and one small, quicker guy... Tisdale breaks that mold. Ole Miss also plans to sign a 6'3 or 6'4 JUCO linebacker in David Luafatasaga; do they have a plan for these taller guys that we haven't seen yet?