Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze has asked his team for 15 intense, all-out practices this spring.
After Wednesday's closed affair in the Manning Center, he's 5-for-5.
"There's no question about it. We're 5-for-5. We had a tremendous competition today, five of them, in fact," Freeze said. "At the end, it was 2-2 and the defense won the last one in the last team period.
"I am very, very pleased with the effort we are getting from these kids. We just have to keep it up."
Since last fall, Carlton Martin has been switched from defensive tackle to right guard on offense, Chief Brown has gone from Rover to Husky, Channing Ward has moved from DE to tight end and Kailo Moore was switched from running back to cornerback.
Freeze was asked about their progress. While not too much is expected after just five practices at their respective new positions, Hugh had an upbeat analysis of their advancement.
"Chief had a real good day today," said Freeze. "Carlton and Channing are still in the learning mode, but they are both doing some things I really like. Carlton's speed is very good. He's an athletic guy. Things are still moving a bit fast for him. Channing is the same way - he's got the run game down pretty well, but when we are in tempo in the passing game, he's a bit slow processing things in terms of lining up and what to do.
"I'm pleased with those moves so far. I think they will help our team."
"Kailo has looked good there and I think that is best for him for what he wants to do with his career," Freeze noted. "He wants to run track too and for that he needs to be about 185 pounds. He had gotten up to about 200. At CB he will be very good at 185.
"He can run. He can stay on top of routes. He gets beat on double moves and some things at times, but that's because it's all brand new to him. He made some good plays today and he came up and made a good strike on a swing pass. I'm pleased with him. He's never drilled corner skills before and it's still not natural to him, but what is natural is him turning and running, which he can do. You need that at field corner. The more he works with (CB Coach) Jason (Jones), the more he will transition into a good field corner."
* We had an update on OG Aaron Morris, out this spring rehabbing from surgery on his knee after the Vanderbilt game last year, recently, but hearing about his progress from Freeze gives Morris' thoughts of an August return more validity. "We think he could be ready to go before August. We want to give him every opportunity for him to get well. He's seven months out now. We hope he has a full summer," noted Freeze.
* Sophomore DT Robert Nkemdiche, according to Freeze, is having a stellar spring so far. "Really good. He's just a talented kid who is coachable and loves to compete," Freeze stated. "He's not full of himself, he's humble and hungry. To go along with that talent, it's hard to block him. He's a handful."
* Running back remains crowded with five guys drawing Freeze's attention. "We know what Jaylen Walton and I-Train (I'tavius Mathers) can do, but Eugene Brazley has some stuff to him too - he had a good run today," Freeze continued. "Jordan Wilkins also had a good run and Mark Dodson has looked good too."
* Since RT Austin Golson is now going in all contact drills since spring break, the coaches have moved Robert Conyers from RT to center where he is battling Ben Still for positional supremacy. "It's a good battle. It is going to be a good battle throughout spring. We are going to need both of them, obviously," Freeze added.
* Two players were not able to finish practice Wednesday due to ankle injuries - DT Lavon Hooks and MLB Temario Strong. "We hope neither are serious. We'll see," Hugh allowed.
* LB Coach Tom Allen was asked about the progress of JUCO signee MLB Christian Russell. "He is making the progress we want. When he doesn't have to think and can just run and hit, he makes plays," noted Allen. "We ask a lot of our linebackers and it will take him some time to get it all, but he is one of the more prepared JUCO players I have ever coached and that's a credit to the guys who coached him before me. Sometimes you get a JUCO and it's like they have never played the position before. Christian is not like that. I feel he will help us right away."
* The Rebels will return to practice with session six of spring training Friday and then follow up with an open practice Saturday morning. We'll keep you posted on a time and the early word is that Saturday's workout will be in the stadium.