May 19, 2008

Forte eager to monitor Rebels

Football fans can't wait for the fall to arrive so they can see their favorite team take the field and begin pursuit of conference championships and bowl bids.

Julius Forte is no exception, though the 6-foot-2, 230-pound defensive end from Saint Augustine (Boca Ciega), Fla., is anxious for his Saturdays in front of the tube for different reasons.

"I'm looking for a school where the coaching staff has a good history and knows what it's doing," Forte said. "I'm looking for a place with a strong family atmosphere where everyone gets along. Of course, I'm looking for a place that has a strong academic program as well. Right now, I'm looking to major in physical training."

Forte is in no hurry to make a college decision, in large part because he wants to see how some of his suitors do on the gridiron this autumn. One of the schools that Forte will be keeping a close eye on is Ole Miss. Forte doesn't necessarily have to see the Rebels bounce all the way back from last season's 0-8 campaign, but he wants to see how new coach Houston Nutt and his staff adapt to their new setting after 10 seasons at Arkansas.

"I take what they did at Arkansas into consideration," Forte said. "I also want to watch how they do this season. I want to see how they progress during the season and to see how they do as a team. I want to see if they have problems with the team or do they get tighter as a team and play better ball. I just want to watch the progress of the team."

Forte has offers from North Carolina State, Indiana, Cincinnati and Troy, and no one leads yet. Ole Miss coaches were in Florida last week checking him out and reportedly came away impressed. Signs point toward an imminent offer from the Rebels.

"Hopefully they will," Forte said.

Forte admits he doesn't know much about Ole Miss, but what he knows is positive, in large part because of his relationship with Rebel defensive tackle Lawon Scott.

"I'm pretty cool with that guy. Whenever he comes back, I talk to him about the school and he tells me it's good. Ole Miss is on the upside."

Forte said he is considering going to several one-day camps this summer, and Ole Miss is one of the schools that might wind up on his travel docket.

"Some schools want me to go to the one-day camps and hang around the players and meet the coaches," Forte said. "That's a strong possibility, but I'm not sure which schools I'm going to see yet."

On the field, Forte had 50 tackles, 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries _ including one returned for a touchdown _ and one blocked field goal.

"I would describe myself as being determined," Forte said. "I have a strong passion for this game and I'm also a competitor, so I'm good at adjusting to what's going on. My agility helps me at my position to be a pretty decent player."

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