Old And New Adjusting

Charles Sawyer, the old guy, has moved to cornerback after playing safety in 2011. Pierce Burton had his first Division I practice since signing with the Rebs in January. Their verdicts?

Sometimes transitioning from junior college football to Division I can be difficult, but Right Tackle Pierce Burton said his first day was somewhat seamless.

"I enjoyed my first day. I think everyone was working hard," said Burton, who is currently the number one right tackle on the very fluid depth chart. "I have to get used to the tempo - it's faster than junior college, but I was prepared for it by the offseason we had."

Burton said he is more used to the drills being fast-paced and the scrimmages being slower. In a Hugh Freeze practice, everything is pace.

"The way we run plays is the hardest part of practice because we are going so fast - there is no rest between plays," said Burton. "I'll get used to it, it's just different."

The Rebels were not in pads, which is a big part of football obviously, but after his first practice he felt he "belonged."

"I have things to work on, but I'm in the right place and I am ready to compete," he continued. "I belong on this level - I learned that today. That's all about gaining confidence and I gained some today."

Burton realizes he's not a finished product, but he's willing to put in the time and the effort to get there.

Pierce Burton
File Photo

"Playing fast and efficiently at the same time is one area I know I have to step it up in," Burton closed. "I have to be more consistent. I already have the playing hard part down. I just have to put everything together with the technique and pad level."

Burton got one "oooh" during the day when he blocked DT Bryon Bennett to the ground.

Nice start for the big RT.

Sawyer's transition is different and not as difficult.

Charles played cornerback his first two years at Ole Miss before switching to safety last year.

Now he's back at corner.

"The pace is very different, but getting back to a corner routine is not going to be hard," said Charles. "I had fun out there today. Everything was good.

"I was prepared for the pace because we had a lot of fourth quarter workouts before spring break. We are conditioned for this. The main thing is getting your mind right and staying focused because it's machine-gun style out here now. Straight from one play to the next," he explained.

Sawyer believes practicing against the fastbreak offense now employed by the Rebels will benefit the defensive players.

"Most offenses we face don't play like that except one or two. We should never get tired," he laughed.

Charles' move back to corner will take a little adjustment but not much, he says.

"There are a few things I have have to relearn, but nothing major. I'm already comfortable out there," he stated.

Sawyer is not only changing positions again, he's got a new mentor, CB Coach Wesley McGriff.

"Coach McGriff is cool. We are playing more off coverage - off man. I like that because you can watch the quarterback more. I think it will benefit us," Charles added. "Coach McGriff brings a lot of energy and you can tell all he wants is the best for us and we can respond to that. I'm just glad to be a part of it."

Sawyer also said practices now seem to be more fun.

"Man, I enjoyed today. We were running around out there having a good time, but we were focused and serious about getting things right," he ended. "Coach Freeze has a way of getting the most out of you, getting things done the right way, but having some fun and smiling a bit along the way. We all like that."

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