'A Good Group'

Ole Miss Defensive Line Coach Chris Kiffin has seen the progress he has been looking for in spring training at the midway point. Health, experience and a new face or two have been the reasons.

Besides DT Woodrow Hamilton having to miss spring training because of an offseason foot injury and subsequent surgery, DL Coach Chris Kiffin feels he has a good thing going on the Rebel forward wall midway through spring training.

"We've got a good group right now," said Kiffin. "Issac (Gross), C.J. Johnson and Carlos (Thompson) are all healthy, which adds a lot to what we are trying to do and the addition of Fadol (Brown) has been real good for us.

"Fadol has great size and is getting better every day. C.J.'s influence, from his play to his leadership, is evident every day. While we miss Woody this spring, I like the direction we are going in."

Brown adds some size to the front, that, frankly, with C.J. and Issac as two main cogs - to go along with Robert Nkemdiche - is lacking a bit, but that does not concern Kiffin in the least.

Fadol Brown
Petre Thomas

"We'll take quickness over size any day," Kiffin noted. "We have shown in the past that we can hold our own against power teams like LSU and Alabama.

"Last year, LSU didn't get much on the ground in our big win and Alabama had two explosive plays and that was about it. Our guys are a little undersized, but quickness can win out."

While C.J. and company are the main focal points of the front, Kiffin is striving for a two-deep coming out of spring training.

"It helps us that Carlos is healthy. I think he can have a really good senior year against the pass," Kiffin continued. "I think he will help our pass rush. Youngblood is solid and has improved. I can trust him to get the job done.

"I think Herbert Moore is going to help us as well as a two-gapper and run stopper. And, of course, it will be good to get Woody back in the summer."

Brown is not the only "new face." Mid-year signee Marquis Haynes has also turned some heads,including Kiffin's.

"Marquis is very raw right now, but he is a special talent," said Kiffin. "We hit a home run with him. He has a tremendous motor and is really strong for his size.

"He is also extremely fast. He's a natural. I am very excited about working with him. I think the sky is the limit for Marquis."

Nkemdiche? Excellent spring.

"Robert gets it now. There is no hesitation in his game.He's big, strong and quick and now he has knowledge. I think he will be hard to stop this year and for the rest of his career," Kiffin stated.

Rising senior Bryon Bennett had a lull toward the end of last season. Out of necessity, he was asked to play defensive end part of the year and never got back in the rhythm he had at the beginning of the season at DT.

"So far this spring, Bryon is doing better. He seems more motivated," Kiffin closed. "I will say this - all my guys have been giving me everything every day.

"That's when you know you have something good working. They come to work to learn and get better and they are doing it with energy. That will pay dividends."

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