Making a Move

Sophomore offensive lineman Aaron Morris has a tough task in front of him.

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Morris, who started five games at left guard last season, is being asked to take over for Bradley Sowell at left tackle. Sowell started three seasons at the position, which was once held by Michael Oher, now with the Baltimore Ravens.

Left tackle is the premier position of the offensive line. Sowell knew the trials and tribulations of the position all too well. Left tackles are alone on an island with an opposing team's best pass rusher. And the criticism the position carries can be vicious.

"I just stay focused, really. Do my assignments that my coach tells me to do," Morris said. "That's it. I block everything else out."

The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Morris worked individually with Sowell when Sowell was last in Oxford. But there was no talk of the high-profile nature of left tackle, what to expect or the difficulties of the position.

Rather, the two focused on technique. Just technique. Simple.

"I talked to Brad the last time he was here," Morris said. "When he was here, he was teaching me how to come out of the kick (step). He was like, ‘Stay calm. Do your technique and get back.' Basically, I'm trying to do his kick."

Again, simple. Morris, who primarily played tackle at Callaway High School in Jackson, Miss., isn't focused on anything else but learning a new offense under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze.

Aaron Morris
Chuck Rounsaville

Well, that and the up-tempo pace of practices.

"Really, just understanding the plays," Morris said. "We're just getting this new offense, and they've got quicker ways to call a whole play. When they call the play, you've got to just think about it.

"We're not clicking yet. We haven't learned it yet. But we're getting better. When we get it down, we'll be much better."

Ole Miss is new all across the front five. The Rebels are replacing tackles Sowell and Bobby Massie. Sowell graduated. Massie opted to forgo his junior season and enter the upcoming NFL Draft in April.

Junior college transfer Pierce Burton is slotted across from Morris at right tackle. Patrick Junen and A.J. Hawkins have been the guards through two practices, with Evan Swindall at center.

Freeze said Saturday veteran guard Matt Hall is dealing with off-the-field issues. Hall has been dressed for practice both days, but hasn't participated in team drills. His future with the program is unclear.

"I think we're going to be pretty good," Morris said. "We're young. But all of us coming together, we should be pretty good."

"Last night's film, I thought he showed some athleticism," Freeze said of Morris. "It's the toughest uphill battle for these offensive linemen with no pads on. It's tough enough with them on. I really thought he and Pierce Burton and A.J. Hawkins yesterday showed a lot of athleticism. We were pleased with those three."

Singleton wants to play:

Wide receiver Tobias Singleton would rather forget about last season, his first at Ole Miss. He wasn't the impact player he expected to be, and Ole Miss suffered its worst season record-wise in school history.

Singleton finished with a grand total of two catches and 12 yards and no touchdowns in 2011. The Rebels, meanwhile, won all of two games while losing 10, including each of their eight Southeastern Conference games.

"We're throwing last year behind," Singleton said. "We're focusing on the future and the present. We're coming out and practicing hard every day. We will win games next year."

Singleton is committed to being an integral part of the turnaround. He wants to play, and not just special teams. The 6-foot, 190-pound Singleton led the team with 516 kick return yards on 21 attempts a year ago.

"A big opportunity. I'm coming out every day and competing like it's my last," Singleton said. "I want to play. From the experience from last year, I think I've come on. I'm getting the hang of it every day now. And with a new offense, I just have to go out and play my game.

Tobias Singleton
Chuck Rounsaville

"Coming in late (last season), I had to get in shape. Everybody was a step ahead of me. I had to show them what I could do. This year, I'm caught up with everybody. It won't be as hard as last year."

Ole Miss is thin at a number of positions, but not wide receiver.

Even with the absence of sophomore wide receiver/cornerback Nick Brassell -- who has been held out due to academics -- through two practices, the group still has quality depth.

Donte Moncrief. Singleton. Philander Moore. Collins Moore. Ja-Mes Logan. Vincent Sanders.

"We talk about it every day. We've got to come out and practice like we run the team," Singleton said. "Ninety percent of the balls are coming to the receivers. We've just got to come out focused and play hard."

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