Football practice started last Thursday. . .
. . . but real football started Monday morning when the Ole Miss Rebels put on the pads and started hitting, sort of.
"We didn't take anybody to the ground, but at the point of contact, we were very physical," said Coach Hugh Freeze. "The attitude and effort has been very good. I think they understand how important this camp is.
"Our theme is 'Take A Stand' and I have seen our guys living that. I'm really pleased to this point. We just have to stay healthy and stay focused."
Freeze was asked who has caught his eye of late.
"(Demore'ea) Stringfellow has had two great days. That's very pleasing to me because he - along with some other wideouts - was inconsistent in the spring, but he has done well so far," noted Freeze. "He's a lot like Laquon (Treadwell) in that he is big and physical and can catch it in a crowd. We've been in his ear about consistency and he has listened. We've done it constructively and he's taken it that way.
"I've also been pleased with the way transfer TE Dillon Barrett has looked. We need help there and by the early look, he can help us."
Of course, Hugh was quizzed about quarterback. He said much the same things he did in spring.
"In one drill, one looks better. Then the next drill, you feel better about another one and so on. What I am waiting on is when we put the ball down and say 'move our team' with no script or anything - like a game," he closed. "We've got some of those opportunities coming up soon."
* There's been a little minor shuffling of personnel since Thursday's first practice, but nothing earth-shaking. Sophomore LB DeMarquis Gates has been moved from middle linebacker where he landed in the spring to outside linebacker. He's in a battle with Denzel Nkemdiche for the top spot. JUCO transfer Terry Caldwell, who went through spring practice at outside linebacker, has been moved to the middle LB slot with C.J. Johnson, Christian Russell and Temario Strong.
* One freshman DB is getting reps at rover in the varsity "rotation," Zedrick Woods. He is physically and mentally ahead of the other newcomer DBs at this point, we've been told. Mike Hilton, C.J. Moore and Chief Brown are also working at rover.
* Former Ole Miss secondary coach and special teams coordinator Chris Rippon, who was here during the Orgeron era, has been added to the Rebel administrative staff as assistant AD for recruiting operations. Rippon can also help with charting drills in practice and in gameplanning but he cannot be an on-the-field coach. He takes Corey Batoon's old spot. Batoon is now the safeties coach and special teams coordinator.
* The first of Monday's practice was three periods of newcomer work, primarily, but it was encouraging to see OG Aaron Morris and OG Daronte Bouldin, who are both coming off offseason surgeries, taking extra reps with the "pups." P.S. - Morris is still limited in what they will allow him to do in practice, but as far as his movement goes, the senior, who has lost some 50 pounds during his rehab, is moving real well at his new weight - 312 pounds.
* We're getting word that freshmen receivers Van Jefferson and DaMarkus Lodge are performing at a high level to be this early in their collegiate careers. In other words, already they are living up to their advance billing.
* The media has not been allowed to see much actual practice time, but it's been enough to take a quick look at the Rebels who were injured during spring and to see that they are full go now, other than Morris, who should be full go very soon. Sean Rawlings, Bouldin, Laremy Tunsil and Robert Conyers all look to be 100% and ready to play.
* In a brief glimpse of offensive line drills, it appears that Justin Bell is working, at least some, with the centers along with Conyers and Ben Still and Rod Taylor is working with the first unit at right guard, a slot Bell has occupied the last two years. "Our swing guys are Justin, who can play center and guard and Robert, who can play center and tackle," Hugh stated. "The competition at center is really heating up and Rod Taylor is one of our better OL at right guard. We've got some competition there too. Javon Patterson has also caught my eye - wonderful kid and will be a fine football player for us in time as soon as he catches up mentally."
* DT Herbert Moore is lost for the season with a torn ACL that happened last week. "We weren't even in pads. A lineman lost his balance and fell on him," said Freeze. "Beyond Herbert, Taz Zettergren has a turf toe that has slowed him down. Jeremy Liggins has an ailing hamstring that is slowing him down some. Aaron Morris has not been turned loose yet, but he has looked good in the periods he's working. He looks like a different guy with the weight he's lost. He looks outstanding."
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