Nutt: 'Exciting to get back on the field'

Houston Nutt kicked off spring practice talking about all areas of his team. No area is likely to be more watched and evaluated than the quarterbacks.

Four are involved - junior Randall Mackey, junior Nathan Stanley, junior Zack Stoudt, and sophomore Barry Brunetti.

"This is a group we'll be anxious to watch and see how they compete," Nutt said. "Which guy will put the team in the end zone and be the most consistent and take care of the ball for us. I'm excited about those four guys.

"Randall Mackey and Nathan Stanley have been here with us and worked hard. Then you've got the two new guys – Zack Stoudt and Barry Brunetti. All four of those guys will compete very, very hard. All of them will get reps. All of them will get their turn and their chance."

Nutt said there are several aspects of the quarterbacks' play they will look at throughout the spring.

"There are about three or four things," he said. "You always look for that guy who has ‘it.' What does ‘it' mean? That's the guy who steps in the huddle and immediately you can tell there are ten sets of eyes that lock onto him. They follow him. And you want a guy who when it's third and eight says hey follow me; I'm gonna show you how to get nine yards and a first down. Get us into the end zone without turning the ball over. Keep us out of the bad play. It may mean throwing it into the stands or throwing it away at times.

"It's that guy, that point guard. The VCU point guard comes to my mind right now. He makes things happen. He gets it to the shooters. Gets it into the hands of the playmakers. That's what that guy has done, and that's why they are in the Final Four. That's a quarterback. A guy that's accurate and makes good decisions. Take care of the ball and put your team in the end zone consistently. That's what's going to be exciting about this spring."

Nutt said that being the case, there will be more game-type situations this spring than normal.

"We'll probably scrimmage a little bit more than in past springs," he said. "Probably a few more plays, because we're trying to find out which one of those guys (it will be). We don't really know."

Waiting To Hear Something

Brunetti is awaiting word on an NCAA waver to allow him to play this season after transferring from West Virginia. He is from Memphis and wanted to play closer to home because of a family situation.

"Barry will go through practice as if he's eligible," Nutt said. "It could be a month or two before we get that back."

Kentrell Lockett
Bruce Newman

Kentrell Lockett is another who is awaiting word on a waver. He is attempting to get a sixth year due to a medical situation in his past.

"We still haven't heard," Nutt said on Lockett. "We should be hearing something soon. Still don't know when that day would be. But he couldn't go through spring anyway. He's rehabbing and will be at practice watching and leading."

One surprise announcement was that tight end Z Mason won't be going through spring practice. He's thinking about giving up football for basketball. Mason is a sophomore this fall in his third year with the program.

"He wants to go play basketball, and I'm really trying to talk him out of it," Nutt said. "But there's only so far you can go. He's worked hard and gone through the offseason. He's always had a tremendous attitude. But in his heart he wants to play basketball."

Ferbia Allen is at tight end, along with Layton Jones and Alex Williams.

"Alex Williams is a guy, because of the Z move, we'll move him to tight end at a H-Back and start getting him some reps there. His athleticism will help us. And we have (junior college transfer) Jamal Mosley coming in, and that will be a big lift for us."

Nutt on some other areas of the team:

Offensive Line – We feel like we have some depth there and have some people who have played.

Wide Receiver - "Anxious to see those guys there and how they do."

Running Back - "Feel good there. Look forward to seeing them improve."

Linebacker - "Defensively it starts with D.T. Shackelford. All those guys have done a good job stepping up in the offseason and doing more than we asked."

Defensive Line – "It's where we were hit the hardest by graduation. Those guys will get a lot of work."

Defensive End – "All those guys we feel good how far they've come. Hopefully we can add Lockett to that group."

Secondary – "We're going to be really thin. Marcus Temple is out for spring after surgery so we basically have three corners."

Safeties - "All have improved their bodies and worked hard."

Kicking game - "Lot of guys are back so we like what we see there. That's a good feeling."

Nutt said today is a good day for the Rebels as they continue to build toward teh fall oif 2011.

"It's exciting to get back on the field and working with these guys," Nutt said. "We put them through it (in the offseason). I'm excited about the attitude of our guys and the way they've gone about things. It's probably been one of the most difficult off-seasons we've put them through in a long time. I know they're anxious to get out there on the field."

Grove Bowl 2011 is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 16.

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