No Late Spring Doldrums

Normally toward the end of spring training, players are worn out and lose their edge. After all, it's grueling, hard-hitting 15 days. But, according to Coach Hugh Freeze after Wednesday's workout, the Rebs have not hit a lull and there are only two more days remaining, Friday - a light day, and Saturday's Grove Bowl - where the troops are bound to be fired up.

Freeze looked almost surprised when asked after Wednesday's full-pad workout in the Manning Center if they Rebels had the proverbial wall in spring training.

Why was he taken aback by the question? Because the Rebels haven't let up from the start of spring through the 13th practice.

"Today was outstanding for the defense. The offense lulled early, but came back and won the final competition period," noted Freeze. "The defense was incredible all the way throughout and the offense responded at the end.

"(TE) Evan Engram was a star. He stood out today with two spectacular catches. Just two individual great plays."

One area everyone with Rebel blood is watching closely is the offensive line, especially the right side with RS freshman RG Daronte Bouldin and sophomore RT Austin Golson, transitioning from RG to RT this spring.

"Most day, I feel pretty good about their development," explained Freeze. "I think Austin is going to be solid. Daronte is going to be really good in time, but he has a lot to learn. Carlton Martin has come on strong here lately. He still has a long way to go but he is athletic and I think he can help us there.

"I think we will be OK when all is said and done, but we are a work in progress right now."

Continuing with the OL, kind of. . . depth, Hugh?

"I think we are pretty good with a two-deep everywhere but on the O-line and wide receiver," he stated. "Most places we look at are pretty good from a depth standpoint in terms of having multiple decent, quality players.

Daronte Bouldin
Petre Thomas

"We haven't arrived yet, and we are short a couple of bodies at receiver and offensive line, even taking into account the players who will be here this fall."

Back to Daronte and his plight to become a quality SEC offensive lineman. . .

"All he need to do is keep doing exactly what he is doing out here day-in and day-out. He just has to learn. He sees so many defensive looks and it slows him down some when he gets something he's not expecting," said Freeze, "but he loves to compete, he's a great kid, he's one of the strongest guys on our team, he's a hard worker and he takes pride in winning and competing.

"He's also got a little nasty in him. If you see us break off a run, you will see him downfield with them hunting up someone to hit."

Golson's development is also on the right track, according to Freeze.

"Austin has some nasty in him too. Like Daronte, he just needs more reps. Moving from guard to tackle is not as easy as it sounds, but he is doing really well. We are pleased with his progress," noted Freeze. "Right now, I look for him to stay at tackle. We will look at everything closely in August, but I anticipate him being our right tackle."

Staying with the OL theme even a bit longer, prior to spring there was talk of seeing Justin Bell at center some, but due to a lack of bodies, he has been almost exclusively the number one left guard.

"When we get Aaron Morris back and get Rod Taylor in here, the idea of Justin at center will always be in the back of my mind, but Ben Still and Robert Conyers are doing a good job right now and are having a good battle there," noted Freeze. "Ben is a bit stronger. Robert is quick twitch and gets his hands on you quick, but he needs to get stronger to face the guys a center faces in this league. He needs a good offseason."

Since Wednesday was a closed practice, Freeze was asked for an injury update.

"Quincy Adeboyejo (groin) and Jaylen Walton (hamstring) were both out today. We are trying to get them ready for Friday and then the Grove Bowl Satruday," he closed. "Lavon Hooks (ankle) returned to practice today."

The Rebs will have a light workout Friday and then the annual Grove Bowl Saturday at noon.

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