Rommel Mageo

Thursday's full pad practice revealed a few things of interest

Thursday's full pad practice on the spanking new practice fields produced a few more "Random Notes" to share with the Rebel faithful. Enjoy.

The media was allowed 11 periods - a little over an hour - of practice time Thursday, enough time to glean a few notes to help quench you Rebel information thirst.

* A true freshman who is starting to impress the defensive coaches is Rover Deontay Anderson. He's picking up the defensive signals quickly and he's made some good plays thus far. Anderson is the biggest safety prospect at 217 pounds, with thick, powerful looking legs. He appears to be able to run well enough to stay at safety as well and some on the inside are saying he will eventually be moved to free safety, but that's just too much to learn this year.

* MLB Rommel Mageo, we were told, is doing a nice job calling defensive signals and getting everyone lined up, which is great for starters, but now he's got to "turn loose" and play instead of thinking too much. He's getting a little "brain locked" after the snap, which is to be expected, but he'll have to come out of that in a hurry because the first game is about three weeks away. He is, however, on schedule and looks to be in the mold of a D.T. Shackelford from a physical standpoint of strength and speed. That's plenty good enough.

* The injury bug has taken a small bite out of the Rebels in the early going, but nothing real serious. Rover C.J. Moore has a pulled pectoral muscle; OLB Terry Caldwell has an ankle injury; WR DeMarkus Lodge got a head ding and was held out for observation Thursday; WR Demore'ea Stringfellow is out with a hamstring pull; and WR Markell Pack is out with a tendon issue in his hand, the injury Coach Hugh Freeze is most worried about of the lot of newly injured.

* The Rebels, as was reported Monday, will be "very smart" with the practice schedules of DE Fadol  Brown, when he comes back (he is expected to do some indo work Sunday); C/T Robeft Conyers (nursing "old"knees); and Husky Tony Conner (also nursing rehabbed knees). Brown and Conner did not practice Thursday and Conyers had limited reps.

* OL   Coach Matt Luke is doing a lot of shuffling around of his personnel. Alex Givens is playing both tackle spots; Sean Rawlings is playing right tackle and center; freshman Bryce Matthews is playing both tackle spots; Rod Taylor is playing left tackle and some left guard. But, for now, if a starting five had to be named, here's the best guess: Givens at LT, Javon Patterson at LG, Conyers at C, Jordan Sims at RG and Rawlings at RT. Notable: Taylor is really making a move at left tackle and touted freshman Greg Little is starting to catch on to some things as well. Also, although real light, Michael Howard is starting to make some noise at RT.

* Insiders say Montrell Custis is taking advantage of the time Conner is sidelined and is making a move for playing time at Husky. Currently, he and A.J. Moore are battling for PT behind Tony.

* A player who is also making a move is one Shawn Curtis at strong DE behind John Youngblood and Garrald McDowell. His strength at the point of attack is noticeable - he isn't moved easily, if at all. His need? Confidence. He is very self-critical, we are told, and just needs to turn loose and play.

* Thursday, there was speed at punt return - Jalen  Julius and Tre' Nixon. Both those guys look comfortable fielding punts and both can burn when they get going. As all are aware, punt return has been a weakness in recent years. Hopefully, these young guys will turn that around. They have the look, so far.

* Right now, there are nine or 10 candidates for playing time at wideout. Something is going to have to give. WR Coach Grant Heard will probably not play more than seven. Our best guess off the top seven? String, Quincy, Van Jefferson, Lodge, A.J. Brown and Pack, but that's leaving out three good ones - Derrick Jones, D.K. Metcalf and Nixon. Tough choices, but good choices to have.

* At running back, it's still a three-man race, from our perspective, between Akeem Judd, Jordan Wilkins and Eric Swinney. In our eyes, in that order.

* Against Vanderbilt last season, Cale Luke blocked a punt that was important at the time. Thursday, he blocked one and came within a whisker of another. Luke, Tom's son, is a punt blocking specialist, it seems.

* We were asked in chat Thursday if it was a possibility that Breeland Speaks could play some defensive end in case Fadol Brown has trouble in his comeback bid. We said an absolute no. We were wrong. We were told that is indeed a possibility due to his offseason weight loss and gained agility. Sorry for the foot in mouth, chatters.

* JUCO DT Josiah Coatney is doing a good job of overcoming a knee injury from last sesason. So far, knock on wood, Josiah is showing no signs of favoring his knee and is working his way into some playing time quickly.

* Freshman Jarrion Street has been moved from running back to Rover and is now wearing #20 instead of #26. . . . MLB Willie Hibbler has changed numbers too, from #40 to #17.

* The media's next look at practice will be next Tuesday.

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