Offseason Report, Part II

In last week's offseason report, Ole Miss Strength & Conditioning Coach Paul Jackson discussed leadership and overall team progress. In today's offering - Part II - he talks about some individuals who have caught his eye this summer.

The usual suspects rose to the top in the summer offseason program under the direction of Strength & Conditioning Coach Paul Jackson.

Anyone who religiously keeps up with the Rebs can guess who.

Names like Mike Marry, D.T. Shackelford, Charles Sawyer, Donte Moncrief, Wesley Pendleton, Dehendret Collins, Barry Brunetti and H.R. Greer are on the list who were "excellent" in the summer. No surprises there.

But six or eight players rising to the top won't get it done in SEC football.

Fortunately, Jackson didn't stop there with players who turned in very good summer offseason worksheets.

Randomly, he discussed more individuals, starting with who did the best among backup offensive linemen, who are an injury away from starting.

"I think three of them stood out on that second OL group during the summer. Patrick Junen is very gifted physically. He is big, strong and can run - he's athletic. I'm surprised he's not one of our top five," Jackson noted. "I think it's just a matter of him trusting himself and his physical attributes. He has worked hard and has put himself physically to be a player. He just has to translate that onto the field.

"(Center) Chase Hughes has flown under the radar, but he had a very good summer. He's a guy who should be able to help us if something happened to Evan Swindall. Justin Bell is a little overweight still, but he's lost 15 pounds and has worked hard to change his body. He has a great punch and good feet. I think he has a chance and I am excited about his future.

"Terrell Brown is another guy who has worked his tail off. I wish we had him for a couple of more years. I mean he's 6-10, 385, he has long arms and is strong. He will do anything you ask him to do. I will be interested to see what his future holds here and beyond here. You can't teach what God has given him."

In the backfield, we, at The Spirit, are constantly asked about Nick Parker and his battle to lose weight in order to help his speed and movement.

"Nick is at 227 now, down from 250 in January. His numbers in the weight room shot up, his vertical improved four inches and he ran better. Because he was in better shape when summer workouts began, he was able to make more progress in these eight weeks. he got better," Jackson noted. "Jeff Scott has also worked hard this summer. He was the fastest player on the team in the 20 and his strength numbers are up.

"I have also been impressed with our two freshmen running backs - I'tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton. When they come in the weight room, they are serious about their workouts. They want to get better. They are here for a reason and that's to get a degree and play football. They also tested OK for freshmen. I'Tavius is in great shape and is ready conditioning-wise. Jaylen is not as far along in conditioning, but he is a great athlete. Jaylen might be Jeff Scott with a little more shake. He is not quite as fast as Jeff, but he probably has more cutting ability. He also has real nice hands. Athletically, he is very good and muscled up. He's close to 170 now and has gained 10 pounds since he has been here."

While on newcomers, Jackson jumped to DBs Anthony Standifer and Trae Elston.

"I love big corners. Anthony has a chance to be special. He's 6-1 and change, he's right at 185 pounds and he's long. He's not stiff at all - good hips," said Jackson. "He's still adapting in the weight room, but he's made excellent strides.

"Out of all the freshmen, Trae may be the most gifted athletically. He's naturally gifted, but he's behind the ones who have been here all summer. Quintavius Burdette, for instance, is way ahead of those two in his development in the weight room and film room. Burdettte is a kid I think can play pretty quickly.

"Of the young DBs, I finally got my hands on Senquez Golson too. He missed spring due to baseball, but I got him in mid-June. He did a great job getting in shape and physically he has all the tools. He's very competitive too. I'm really excited about him. He can be as good as he wants to be."

In the offseason, Jackson looks for change - change for the better. Two players he singled out at DTs Carlton Martin and Woodrow Hamilton.

"They have lost a couple of pounds apiece and their work ethic has ramped up by leaps and bounds. If they take what they are doing in here onto the field, they have a chance to impact this team in a very positive way," he explained. "Donte Moncrief is another one who has amped up his intensity a lot in the summer and it has paid off. Right now, he is unleashed. He had the highest vertical, longest broad jump and second-fastest 20 behind Jeff Scott on the team this summer. He really attacked the summer."

At QB, Brunetti and Wallace both helped themselves physically.

"Bo went from 198 pounds to 210 and he looks good with that extra weight. Barry took off a couple of pounds and is rocked and chiseled up. He looks great," Jackson noted. "As I said earlier, both have started to take on more of a leadership role, which is good to see."

Not a day goes by when we aren't asked about freshman DE Channing Ward. Jackson smiles when that subject comes up.

"I cannot wait to see him develop," Paul gleamed. "He is so raw and knows nothing about training yet. From week one to week eight, remarkable. He is going to be a big, strong man. He came here 257 pound and he's now 265. With little knowledge of what to do in the weight room, he benched 300 pounds, squatted over 400, cleaned 272 and all of that is natural over an eight-week period. He's going to be phenomenal, in my opinion, because he has not even scratched the surface. He will be a freak in our room."

Also defensive end, Jackson mentioned C.J. Johnson and Carlos Thompson.

"C.J. is about 240 pounds now, up from 225 in January. He's a speed guy. He was the only non-skill guy on our team who ran under 2.6 in the 20. He has some get-out. Carlos is a guy who reminds me of Junen - he has everything you want, he just has to put it all together on the field. He's powerful, he can run, he can bend - he's just got to develop on the field," Jackson added.

Jackson was asked the ultimate question: name one player on each side of the ball who rocked him during the summer.

"The two that jumped out at me instantly are Charles Sawyer and Donte Moncrief," Jackson closed. "Charles demands so much of himself and is so focused. He performed at a very high level all summer. On defense, I'd also have to say Dehendret Collins. He doesn't want to just beat his best times, he wants to crush them, and he has. Wesley Pendleton is in that echelon as well.

"As I said, Donte took things to another level, a level, frankly, I did not see in spring. He has exploded."

Obviously, there were other players on the Rebel roster who Jackson said "did a good job" during the summer, such as LB Joel Kight, WR Ja-Mes Logan, H.R. Greer and so on, but the most of the ones he mentioned were the ones who showed the most improvement during the eight-week summer stint.

"Overall, as I said, I was pleased with the way they attacked the summer and we made gains I wasn't sure we could make," he ended. "It was a good start."

Next step? Putting what they gained on the field in August practice.

The Rebs report the 2nd of August and the first practice will be the 4th.


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