Closing Strong

After a redshirt season that saw his team only win four games, Vincent Sanders is ready to contribute to a receiving corps still looking for an identity and a star.

Sanders totaled four catches and 96 yards for the Blue team in the Grove Bowl, played at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday.

"I feel like I did have a good scrimmage," Sanders said. "Last year, my head was spinning, but this year I remained calm and tried to play my role and take in coaching. It turns out it's worked for me pretty good."

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said while there has been progress with his receiving corps, he knows there needs to be a lot more improvement.

Vincent Sanders
Alex Edwards
"They've all made strides, but we still need to be better at that position," the fourth-year head coach said.

Sanders, a Macon, Miss., native spent his day catching passes from quarterback Barry Brunetti. Brunetti threw for 211 yards on 12 of 21 passing, with two touchdowns.

After Nathan Stanley decided to transfer, the quarterback race has gotten more jumbled. But Sanders knows all three have talent to compete.

"All three of them have something special about them. Every day we start spring (practices) we throw with them, so we had to get used to (the quarterbacks).

Playing high school ball for Noxubee County, Sanders was one of the top recruits coming out of Mississippi last year.

Humbled Mathews eager for sophomore season:

While there weren't many constants on the Ole Miss defense last year, one thing Rebel fans knew they'd see was safety Brishen Mathews always around the football.

Matthews is the first to admit there was a serious learning curve coming out of high school, not only on the field, but also realizing there was a whole lot more to the game than what he learned in high school.

The sophomore was forced into playing a significant amount his freshman year due to injuries and his ability to find the ball.

"When I came in being a freshman, I thought I knew everything," the Monticello, Ark., native said. "Then you get here (on campus) and it's a different game, different speed, different players. It's a whole different mindset."

Mathews chases tight end Alex Williams
Alex Edwards
Mathews totaled eight tackles in Rebels' spring game for the blue team that ended tied with the Red to end Grove Bowl festivities.

"You notice (Mathews) is always around the ball, he's a good tackler, proud of him," Nutt said.

Even while having a successful freshman campaign personally, Mathews still was eager to learn more to become a better player.

"In this offseason I really listened to (the coaches), opened everything up to them." he said. "I feel like I've done what I could, but I'm still hungry."

The Ole Miss defense is searching for a new leader after D.T Shackleford went down earlier this week with an ACL tear, but Mathews said it has helped the team to come together.

"D.T was our vocal leader. Just playing this game today, you have to have a leader, no matter if he's vocal or non-vocal. I really think the defense as a whole stepped up and became everyone else's leader," he said.

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