MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

October 24, 2013

Rougher’s flexibility continues to expand

Tramal Ivy’s resume keeps building.

Ivy, one of the area’s top college prospects, is being targeted as an outside linebacker. Up to this year, the senior was a defensive end. Not exactly big for a collegiate defensive lineman at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, but as athletic a player as Muskogee has, he was assigned the free safety spot in the new 3-3 defense installed this year.

He emerged as a receiver in recent weeks, playing both tight end and wideout — and for a couple of snaps last week, played quarterback in short yardage situations similar to how Blake Bell was used a year ago.

This week, he’ll go as a wideout against Jenks and move to middle linebacker, Muskogee head coach Josh Blankenship said.

About the only things he still has to get accomplished is play running back, an interior lineman and cornerback.

“Whatever coach tells me to play, I’ll move in and go,” Ivy said. “I kind of like it. I’d think it’s to my advantage to learn those positions just to understand it from a different perspective. You’re seeing things yourself from that spot instead of looking at someone else, like say, on film.”

As different as moving from defensive end to free safety was, going to the offensive side was also a change of pace.

“He’ll let you know he couldn’t catch the ball two years ago,” Blankenship said. “Even this summer it wasn’t a smooth thing for him when we were trying to do it in passing league.

“I don’t know if it’s confidence, don’t know if it’s just a maturation thing or where he’s becoming more coordinated. He’s just now really growing into his body and yet he’s been such a weapon for us.”

He missed a game earlier this season — the Roughers’ lone win over Edison — because of academic issues. It’s about the only bump in his road.

“One teacher wasn’t there for two weeks so she couldn’t put grades in,” Ivy said. “I was already in probation, my other class (grade) dropped and didn’t know it. Coach said ‘you can’t play’ and yet I got it up in the next hour (that day).”

He returned and had a team-high reception total against Sapulpa on touchdown catches of 80 and 39 yards, both on passes from sophomore Quintahj Cherry.

For the year, Ivy has six catches for 243 yards — half of those catches for TDs. He has 39 tackles and seven of those were for lost yardage, five were sacks.

And this week he’s in the middle of the defense, shoring up a position left hurt by injuries to Noah Ashley, Mackenzie McCall and Ty Beasley— and as a receiver. It’s a tall order against a tall standing Jenks team ranked No. 1 in the state at 7-0, 4-0 in District 6A-2.

“That’s a pretty good group of players. I know some of those guys who also play basketball,” he said. “I see it as the challenge it is.”

He could end up matched up against Jenks’ Steven Parker, a highly touted Division I football player who shares the team lead in interceptions this year with three.

“My approach is what coach is talking about. Why not be that one? He says they’ll be state champions so why not make them 13-1?” Ivy said.

 With his chances of seeing a postseason game dim, Ivy remains motivated, but not just to impress college coaches.

“I’m playing for the underclassmen,” he said. “I want to finish strong and for them not to look back and say Tramal Ivy gave up.”

Friday’s game, set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, will be on Tulsa-based KMYT TV.

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