JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -Mississippi coach Houston Nutt has had nice things to say about defensive tackle Peria Jerry all season.
After a dominating performance against LSU last week, though, Nutt jacked up the praise for a player who is without question the No. 25 Rebels' best defender.
``Peria Jerry is an All-American,'' Nutt said. ``He's a first-team All-American if you've ever seen one. He deserves to be talked about right now.''
It's a safe bet that Mississippi State's offensive coaches are spending an awful lot of time doing just that as the Rebels prepare to host the Bulldogs Friday in the Egg Bowl.
Jerry commands your attention, after all. At 6-foot-2 and 290 pounds, he's big enough to shed a double team and fast enough to meet the tailback in the backfield. But most importantly, he's got the kind of determination to get to the football that can't be taught.
wo faced off, but he got a quick reminder watching film of Jerry terrorizing opponents this season.
``He's a pretty good kid, but I think he's got a motor on him that makes him go,'' Brignone said. ``I think the guys he's played, you can see once they get off the block they think he's done and he goes and makes a play. So I think that will be a big thing with me and him going at it - finishing plays.''
Jerry is second in the Southeastern Conference with 13 tackles for a loss. He also has four sacks and two forced fumbles. He continually proves he can play at the highest level of college football and really put on a show against then-No. 18 LSU in a 31-13 win that set the Rebels up for a possible Cotton Bowl bid.
The senior knocked quarterback Jarrett Lee out of the game with a devastating hit and finished with three tackles for a loss and a sack. He also helped the Rebels hold LSU to 37 yards rushing on 29 carries.
``It just seems like the game has gotten so easy,'' Jerry said. ``It seems like it's just slowed down a whole lot for me. Man, I think my quickness and my size help me do different things.''
That's something pro scouts and draft analysts have noticed. Most considered him a first-day selection in April's NFL draft before the season started. But he's steadily moved up most mock draft boards as the season has progressed.
depending on how many underclassmen declare - it wouldn't shock me if Jerry comes off the board early in Round 2,'' ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said.
Gil Brandt, an analyst for NFL.com and former personnel director for the Dallas Cowboys, sees the possibility of Jerry going in the first 32 picks. Jerry first caught his eye against Georgia last year when he had eight tackles, including three for a loss, and was a disruptive presence for one of the SEC's best offensive lines.
``The guy's got instincts, hustles, really a good motor,'' Brandt said. ``He will be a very good tackle.''
Despite the growing praise and accolades, Jerry said he doesn't pay attention to the mock drafts and is focused on the Egg Bowl and Ole Miss' postseason plans. He'd rather go home after practice and play video games than surf the Web looking for his name.
``I don't even pay attention to it,'' Jerry said. ``I didn't know I even got SEC (defensive lineman) of the week twice already. Somebody had to come and tell me.''
While Jerry may ignore the hubbub, his teammates don't.
``Peria is making everyone's game elevated,'' defensive end Kentrell Lockett said. ``We're pretty much just feeding off him.''
yards rushing or less in three consecutive games and is fifth in the league with 25 sacks.
The Bulldogs' rushing game, led by Anthony Dixon, the SEC's No. 5 running back, will present another challenge this week. Jerry swears his thoughts are on the Bulldogs and swears he's not thinking about the NFL or the size of the check waiting for him in a few months. He's completely focused on the next two games.
``I'm really just thinking about Friday,'' Jerry said. ``And I've never experienced a bowl game. I can't explain it. I'm just waiting to see what happens.''

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