Ole Miss held its second practice of fall camp Monday morning. Some random notes, from the notepad of Chuck Rounsaville:
* The Rebels practiced on their new practice fields - one artificial turf and one natural grass Monday with the newcomers and some select backups getting the first five periods of work. Then, the two-deep - roughly - joined in the "festivities." It wasn't a particularly hot day because the humidity was down, but it's pretty apparent the Rebels are in good shape and paid their dues during summer workouts.
* Right now, DE Fadol Brown is not at practice. He is still nursing/rehabbing his foot from surgery a few weeks back. From whispers around camp, he is expected to be back working out with the team some in the next week or so, but that has not been verified. In his absence, John Youngblood, the Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner, and Garrald McDowell are holding down the strong side defensive end slot. Chuck Wiley is also at that position but he is currently in "withheld from competition" mocde until a legal matter is cleared up. Transfer Qaadir Sheppard is also playing there, but he has to sit out this year due to transfer rules.
* It appears true freshman Myles Hartsfield has taken over the Rover (strong safety) slot, but C.J. Moore is on his heels for playing time. Hartsfield started emerging there last spring after being moved from Husky. At free safety, Zedrick Woods and C.J. Hampton are battling it out for the starting slot. It's a dead heat right now.
* At Husky, it is good to see #12 (Tony Conner) back at practice. Tony is wearing a brace on his repaired knee, but says he feel very good after two workouts. Most likely this will be a situation very similar to Center Robert Conyers in that the coaches may not practice them every single day, giving their knees periodic rests so they can be 100% for games. At least that is the early indication. Both, however, look very good and very fresh right now. A.J. Moore and Montrell Custis are backing up Conner at Husky. Moore, we were told, could also play free or Rover if needed.
* Freshman Rover Greg Eisworth is sidelined with a hamstring injury he re-injured in early summer.
* DT Issac Gross is also back in the fold after missing most of last year and all of spring with a neck injury. He has gained 20 pounds and is now 262 pounds and, according to S&C Coach Paul Jackson, "extremely strong." He must be feeling good because as he was waiting for the newcomers to get in their early work, he and DE Marquis Haynes were doing back flips. Yes, back flips.
* "Our incoming class could be, from top to bottom, our best class thus far," said Coach Hugh Freeze.
* OT Jeremy Liggins is not in camp. He is missing camp for violation of team rules and has work to do, but will be welcome back on the team if he does the necessary work.
* Freshman RB D'Vaughn Pennamon is cut in the same mold as Akeem Judd and Jordan Wilkins, he's just younger. He is 5-11 and weighs about 220 now and looks like he can hold a few more pounds comfortably. We've only seen him do a few cone drills, but he seems to have good movement too. More on him and fellow true frosh RB Jarrion Street as we see more of them, but they both pass the first look test.
* A very impressive newbie position(s) is wide receiver. Both A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf are now in the 220-225 pound range and both run well. A.J. has terrific hands, probably among the best on the team. Tre' Nixon has outstanding speed. He might be a tad smaller than we were anticipating, but he can flat out fly. He is currently in the slot while Brown and Metcalf are both out wide. Great looking prospects, all three.
* The player getting the early rave reviews from the coaches on the defensive side is MLB Rommel Mageo, pronounced, we were told, Man-a-o. The coaches were very pleased he was able to call signals correctly, get players lined up correctly, understand thing quickly during chalk talk and he has good, not great but good, movement. A solid 'A' so far for the graduate transfer from Oregon State.
* DT Breeland Speaks looks different for a reason. He is no longer 315 pounds, He has trimmed down to 295 and is stronger and quicker than before. He is setting himself up for a big campaign.
* Another player who has taken on a different look is Cornerback Kendarius Webster, who has gained about 15 pounds and is currently right at 190 pounds. Jackson also said he is "faster and stronger" than last year due to the added muscle mass.
* Redshirt freshman Alex Givens is currently holding down the #1 left tackle slot on the offensive line with Rod Taylor and true frosh Greg Little breathing down his back. Givens has gained five pounds to a solid 300 now and his power clean went from the 270s to 296 pounds this summer, a substantial gain. It was stated by one coach that Givens "had an exceptional day Sunday" in the Rebs' fall opening practice. Taylor looks to be over his shoulder issues and swears he has given up boxing. Sean Rawlings is currently holding down right tackle while Javon Patterson is at left guard and Jordan Sims is at right guard. As we wrote earlier, Conyers is at center.
* Now departed QB Ryan Buchannan did all the holding for placements last year. Right now, Will Gleeson, Nathan Noble and Cale Luke are battling for the job. It appears Gleeson has the edge right now. Also another special teams note or two - freshman PK Luke Logan from Hattiesburg has an extremely strong leg. He needs to work on his accuracy some, but he's got time to do that with Gary Wunderlich around for two more years, most likely. In the meantime, he hit some field goals into the wind today that would have easily been good from 55 yards, maybe further. Bazooka leg. . . The Rebs have some new faces working at kickoff return - Wilkins, RB Eugene Brazley, RB Eric Swinney and freshman Nixon.
* If the Rebs played tomorrow, based on today's look, the starting defense would be: DEs - Youngblood, Haynes; DTs - Speaks, D.J. Jones; CBs - Tony Bridges and Webster; LBs - Mageo and DeMarquis Gates; Husky - Conner; FS - Woods/Hampton; SS - Hartsfield.
* According to the schedule we were given, the media will get another look - for select periods - on Thursday, the first day of full pads.