First Impressions

The Rebel football team had two practices, one a walk-through, Friday, but Saturday morning was the first opportunity to view a workout for the media. First impressions can be important, and most of Saturday's were positive.

With anything new, there is anxiousness and excitement.

A new year in Ole Miss football was kicked off, in terms of the media being able to watch, this morning and, besides some of the stalwarts being out with injury, was an encouraging first look, particularly with the freshmen newcomers on the squad.

The signing class of 2013 was ballyhooed, and rightfully so, but you never really know how those "puppies" will transition until they are put in the same arena with veteran SEC players.

They pass the look test, and then some.

"They have certainly helped the physical look of our team," smiled Coach Hugh Freeze. "Most of them blend in nicely with the veterans. Some of them don't look, or play, like freshmen."

It was apparent from the drills the newbies figure into this year's plans, not that that is a big surprise to anyone who follow Rebel football.

"Guys like Robert (Nkemdiche) and Laremy (Tunsil) and Tony (Connor) and Austin (Golson) and some others, like Quincy (Adeboyjo) and Laquon (Treadwell) are going to be given an opportunity to earn some playing time. We are giving them extra reps to see how quickly they absorb things," noted Freeze. "They are certainly physically capable. It's a matter of how quickly they can learn what we are doing and their assignments."

Nkemdiche played mostly left DE behind Cameron Whigham. Tunsil got one reps when Pierce Burton was held out and Emmanuel McCray moved to RT. Treadwell and Adeboyjo are already in the WR rotation, it appears. Freeze said Connor is "everything we hoped he would be when we signed him."

TE Evan Engram is prominent in the TE rotation as well. "He will be a good one, he is just undersized right now. He's got to play, and he's going to play. We just have to be smart and ask him to do things he can do," Freeze added.

From a team standpoint, Freeze is pleased with the conditioning after the offseason program.

"We've done a lot of tempo work in the first two days and our practices have been intense. They have held up well. (S&C Coach) Paul (Jackson) has done a great job with them," he stated. "I just wish we had some of those injured guys back."

DT Issac Gross, CB Senquez Golson (hamstring), RG Patrick Junen, CB Charles Sawyer and DE C.J. Johnson did very little, if anything at all, during practice and QB Bo Wallace showed signs of having a sore arm.

"Bo's arm was hurting today, so we backed off on him about midway through. It's not where the operation was, but it's still hurting," said Freeze. "We have some big concerns about these guys coming back from these injuries. Time will tell.

Laremy Tunsil
File Photo

"I will say this - D.T. (Shackelford) looked better today than he did in spring and Collins Moore is back in the fold and looks healthy. I'm anxious to get those others back."

LG Aaron Morris, who was also expected to be limited, went through most of the drills Saturday, running with the first team.

Random Notes:

* WR Vincent Sanders injured his shoulder, maybe collarbone, in practice and was taken off the field for X-rays. No word on the results as of this writing. "That ruined my whole day - it was foolish," said Freeze. "In one-on-one with no pads and you take one of your teammates to the ground, it's never a good thing. Injury is the result of that. I hope he will be OK. We'll see. It makes me sick."

* Tunsil worked with the number one offense at left tackle some because of a lower back issue, not serious, to RT Pierce Burton. "We moved Emmanuel (McCray) to right tackle and gave Laremy some LT reps," said Freeze. "Athletically, he's as physically gifted as any freshman (OL) I have ever seen. Certainly, he's swimming mentally, and he's going to make some mistakes, but he is a very gifted kid."

* There is a reason Robert Nkemdiche was the consensus number one recruit in America. Folks, when we say he is an impressive physical specimen, think DeMarcus Ware. Channing Ward is impressive physically - Nkemdiche dwarfs him, taller, thicker just plain bigger, by about 25 pounds. His legs are thick and his arms look like tree trunks. Trust us - there aren't any freshmen in America that look better and very few upperclassmen. He has the wow factor. "Freak" is overused in sports vernacular these days. It is appropriate for RN.

* Bassfield commits Alvin and Calvin Moore were at practice today and seemed to be having a blast watching all the drills. Good looking youngsters.

TE Evan Engram
File Photo

* Treadwell got the most ink during recruiting, and he deserved it. He is going to be terrific in time, but Adeboyjo is just as good and further along than Quon right now. Q is fast, smooth and he has great hands. And he is every bit of his listed 6-3. Could Adeboyjo's being advanced right now be because of the level of play of Texas high school football? I'd bet it is. Going off the field, Done Moncrief, said to a teammate, "Those two freshmen receivers are ready to play now."

* TB Kailo Moore, who is bigger than anticipated from a lower body standpoint, took a quick pass over the middle in stride and was gone. He's not going to be caught.

* Laremy and Austin are ahead of fellow frosh Daronte Bouldin and Davion Johnson right now, but make no mistake, both Bouldin and Johnson have a very good upside. It appears they just need more time, but their frames and movement are very good. Look down the road with those four and you've got something potentially special.

* Jordan Wilkins could easily be the big, power back the Rebels have been needing. He's cut and has impressed RB Coach Derrick Nix thus far.

* Connor? From our limited observation, he looks like a linebacker capable of covering wideouts. If the Man upstairs designed a Husky, he would have Tony in mind.

* Husky Mike Hilton, LB Keith Lewis, MLB Mike Marry, S Anthony Alford and S Trae Elston all had picks in either team drills or pass skelly today.

* WR Cody Core, a sophomore, is not going to lie down and give his reps to anyone. He made three really nice catches in various coverage drills Saturday.

* Freeze discussed Engram a bit after practice, but allow us to add this caveat - the kid can run. There's little question he is the fastest TE on the squad and he has very soft hands.

* In one-on-one pass sets, these eyes have never seen a quicker retreat step than Tunsil's. Enough said.

* Jackson said DTs Bryon Bennett and Woody Hamilton had monster summers in the offseason program. It shows in practice. They have become stalwarts of the Rebel DL. Leaner, quicker, stronger and in great shape.

* For the wounded, Carlos Thompson got C.J.'s reps, Justin Bell got Junen's, Korvic Neat got Sanders', Dehendret Collins got Sawyer's and Q. Burdette got Golson's.

* It's not an official depth chart by any means, but today S Derrick Jones, Husky Connor, DE Nkemdiche, CB Bobby Hill, DT Lavon Hooks and CB David Kamara were all getting second team reps on defense.

* PK Andrew Ritter finished off the day going 5-5 in field goals, all 32 yards from different hash marks, and was perfect on 4 PATs.

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