Random Notes from Spring Practice - Day Two:
* Former All-American Safety Cody Prewitt was at practice today. He has been out of commission for six months getting two college injuries repaired - foot and shoulder. Now, he is back at Ole Miss to work out and get back the weight and conditioning he lost while he was healing from the two surgeries. "I am 210 pounds now," said Prewitt, "but I think I can get to 230 pretty quickly. It feels good to finally be healthy and to be able to pursue my dream of the NFL."
* PK Andy Pappansatos is going to transfer from Ole Miss after he gets his degree in May. He will have two years of eligibility left. Andy is a quality kicker, but he wasn't going to beat out rising junior gary Wunderlich, so this is a smart move for him. No word on wehre he is considering transferring.
* Kickoff specialist Nathan Noble broke his hand three weeks ago playing hoops and is in a cast which he will have to wear at least another three weeks, but he is able to kick effectively.
* WR Damore'ea Stringfellow is in a walking boot and expects to be out of practice for another two weeks. . . . DE Fadol Brown (foot), RT Robert Conyers (knee), Husky Tony Conner (knee) and OL Rod Taylor (shoulder) will miss spring due to offseason surgery. . . . NT Issac Gross is not allowed to have contact yet, but he is dressing out, going though some drills against air and is very involved in the leadership of the defensive line.
* Jeremy Liggins has not only moved to right tackle, he has taken on the bold move of wearing Laremy Tunsil's #78 jersey. Jeremy has trimmed down some and is currently the number one right tackle in spring training. Hugh Freeze said prior to Thursday's practice that Jeremy "looked very, very good" the first day of spring training.
* With Collins Moore moving on, punt return is wide open, Right now, it looks like a three-man race between Carlos Davis, redshirt freshman Jalen Julius (more on him later) and Markell Pack. Julius seems to be the most explosive of the three, but it's still very early in the process and no live bullets have been fired yet. That will tell the tale.
* The safety and Husky slots have been almost totally revamped. At free safety, C.J. Hampton still leads the pack but A.J. Moore, a Husky last year, is now behind him and redshirt frosh Armani Linton, now 215 pounds, is behind A.J. . . . At Husky, redshirt freshman Montrell Custis, true frosh Myles Hartsfield and true frosh Greg Eisworth, who is struggling with a pulled hamstring but should be released Saturday, are battling. . . . At strong safety, C.J. Moore and Zedrick "Red" Woods are the top candidates at this juncture with Antwain Smith, a junior walkon, also in the mix. . . . Custis has gained 25 good pounds since his arrival at Ole Miss and is now 199 pounds. Hartsfield may be the most explosive athlete of them all at the safety slots. Red and C.J. Moore are going to have a good battle, which will make both of them better.
* The number one OL Thursday was LT Alex Givens, LG Javon Patterson, C Sean Rawlings, RG Jordan Sims and RT Jeremy Liggins. Perhaps the surprise of the group so far has been Givens, who Freeze said "will battle you until the whistle blows and has a lot of grit." The redshirt freshman is now nearing 300 pounds at 6-6.
* Frosh QB Shae Patterson, purely from an arm standpoint, is everything - maybe more - he was cracked up to be. He has an unbelievably quick release, he throws bullets and his accuracy is uncanny. His decision-making is also extremely quick and it looks as if he has been in this offense for months instead of two days. Also, he isn't the least bit intimidated by his surroundings. One observer on the sideline Thursday said, "Chad Kelly may be an All-American in 2016 and the kid behind him may end up being better." Those are lofty words after two days of practice, but at the very least, Patterson is everything he was touted to be and some from an arm perspective.
* The linebacker slots will be closely watched this spring, but some relief has been gained with the signings of grad transfer Rommel Mageo and JUCO Detric Bing-Dukes, who will both be at Ole Miss in June. That allows LB Coach Dave Wommack to work DeMarquis Gates at his natural outside LB position, it gives Temario Strong a shot at outside, it allows Terry Caldwell to work more outside and it gives redshirt frosh Shawn Curtis more time to mature. Strong is being mentioned as "the forgotten man who is really doing a nice job this spring" at his new position, a position where he doesn't have to call the defensive signals and can just concentrate on his assignment. Maybe the hard-hitting Strong has found a home. . . . maybe.
* A player getting "much improved" kudos already this spring is one Victor Evans, a sophomore defensive end who played some last year. Right now, he is backing up Marquis Haynes, but he could also play the other side at nearly 240 pounds as well.
* A couple of youngsters who really stood out in today's one-on-one passing drills were redshirt WR Van Jefferson and RS frosh CB Jalen Julius. Julius may be the Rebs' best man coverage guy right now. He needs some more muscle, but even at his size (180 pounds) he does not back down from anyone and he is extremely quick and explosive. . . . Jefferson is a playmaker - sure-handed, runs good routes and is very elusive after the catch. Two winners, for sure.
* DT D.J. Jones is playikng like a man possessed. Even though the Rebs are not in pads yet, it's easy to see his "get-off" is quicker and his strength levels, already high, have improved. . . . There's also a young D.J. on the horizon - freshman Benito Jones. His get-off is similat to Issac Gross and he weighs 30 pounds more than the 260-pound Gross. A star in the making.
* Compared to when Hugh Freeze and this staff took over four years ago, the talent on the field is like night and day. Not only is the "star power" obvious at several positions, but the depth continues to get better and better. Obviously, molding and meshing the OL and the safeties/Husky slots are the biggest stepping stones for spring, but the talent is there. It's just a matter of putting it all together.
* TBs Jordan Wilkins and Akeem Judd are the leaders of that pack right now and they bring a different look to the position than departed Jaylen Walton, but they are both tuned in and confident now that their roles are going to be expanded. And, if more speed is needed at times, Eugene Brazley is the ticket. RS frosh Eric Swinney is not cleared for contact yet, but he also has a good look to him - powerful, but shifty.
* Returning stalwarts who stood out Thursday? WR Quincy Adeboyejo, TE Evan Engram, DE Marquis Haynes, QB Chads Kelly (as usual), DT D.J. Jones, DT Breeland Speaks, LB DeMarquis Gates and CB Kendarius Webster, to name a few who caught our eye.