Rebel workout notes

Several Rebel players are making their presence known in offseason workouts. Today, we highlight LB Patrick Willis, LB Marquis McBeath and several others.

Workout notes. . . .

True sophomore Linebacker Patrick Willis, due to the recent incident in Memphis with LB Ken Bournes, may have moved up the depth chart via default in the last few days. But according to Strength & Conditioning Coach Ruben Mendoza, Pat should be ready for the challenge. "Patrick is 110% in everything we do – every lift, every agility rep, every drill," said Mendoza. "We'd like to have a whole team of Patrick Willis'. He has a tremendous attitude. His speed and agility are very good. His strength is good. All he has to do is learn the ins and outs of linebacking in this system and he will be special. He has been here a little over a full year and I can tell a big difference in him physically due to all his hard work." Patrick is 6-2 and weighs 231 pounds, at his last weigh-in yesterday. The surprising part of that equation is that he doesn't look like he weighs that much. "Patrick can easily hold 240 pounds and will get there, I believe, within a year. Right now, for this stage in his career, he's right where we want him. He's got very little body fat and is only adding lean muscle mass. I tell you, he's what you are looking for, in every way," Mendoza closed. This has not been confirmed, but an educated glimpse/guess into the first week of August training will probably see Patrick in Bournes' place at one of the number one LB slots along with senior captain Rob Robertson. Willis ended up behind Robertson in spring drills and senior Brian Lester ended up behind Bournes. Lester could be elevated to the number one spot, but don't be shocked if Willis is moved to that position and takes number one reps from the start.

Another young LB who will be counted on is RS frosh Marquis McBeath. Marquis had recurring shoulder problems last year. He has what is referred to as "loose" shoulder sockets. Sometimes when he made solid contact last year, his shoulders would pop out of the sockets. It is a similar condition to what ailed former TE Bo Hartsfield a couple of years ago and ended his career prematurely. Offseason corrective surgery was an option, but after a thorough medical review, everyone involved opted to try and strengthen the areas around the shoulders with special exercise designed to tighten the area around the sockets up. Marquis said he has worked hard to accomplish that goal, but there is still uncertainty about his situation. "I won't really know until I have contact," said Marquis. "All of my strength tests have improved, so I am very hopeful." Mendoza said McBeath is in "a lot better condition than when he reported a year ago." At 5-11, 233 pounds, McBeath is a stockier athlete than Willis. He reminds us, physically, of former Reb LB Lanier Goethie, but about an inch or so taller. Marquis is extremely physical and has good closing speed. "Physically, he's capable of doing the job. If his shoulders hold up, it's just a matter of him learning the position," Mendoza noted. "Marquis lost a lot of valuable rep time last year so August is very important for him."

Sophomore CB Trumaine McBride will be the number one right corner heading into August practice, but right now all he's aiming for is to get 100% healthy. Trumaine has been hampered the last few weeks with a pulled groin and has had limited full-speed workouts. "I'm doing what I can, but I feel I'm falling behind with my conditioning," he noted. "I'm hoping I can return to full speed next week." Mendoza said McBride still has time to "catch up," but everyone has their fingers crossed that he can come back full strength next week.

OG James McCoy is one of the backup offensive linemen who needs to step his game up in August in order to be a "trustworthy" number two on an offensive line that has five excellent starters but is thin in backups. James understands his responsibility. He started summer workouts at 320 pounds. The coaches asked him to reduce his body weight to 300. Right now he's at 308. "I know I can play better at 300. It will help my movement. I'm pleased with the weight reduction to this point, but I've got to keep plugging at it," he said. McCoy, Ryan Jones, Tony Bonds, Antonio Sanders and Marcus Cohen are all in a similar boat. All have to take one more step in the right direction to bolster the depth situation on the offensive line.

In watching the starting offensive line work out, the philosophy, right now, is a lot of heavy lifting and not as many reps. Tre' Stallings, Bobby Harris, Marcus Johnson and Chris Spencer – due to class, Doug Buckles regularly works out in the afternoon while the others work out early in the morning – were doing bench reps Wednesday with 400-plus pounds and ended up working with 455 pounds. After a bunch of single reps, only Spencer could push the 455 pounds, but all were working with that weight. "We start at about 390 and work up with single reps to an amount they can't do," Mendoza noted. "One sure way to get stronger is to push heavy weights and that's what we are doing right now."

DE Dedrick Clark has been in the 280-pound range for a "long time," but he's just now getting comfortable with the weight. When he reported to Ole Miss three years ago, he was a 235-pounder. "I put on a lot of weight in a hurry because I was concentrating on one sport and was lifting more," he explained. "My conditioning and movement didn't keep up with my growth because it happened so quickly." Now, he feels he's in better shape and his movement is better. "I'm getting there," he continued. "It's taken me a long time to get fit and in shape carrying this much weight, but I'm getting closer every day." Dedrick ended spring as the number two right DE behind senior Cory Robinson. The rising sophomore is in a battle with JUCO transfer Corvelli Haynes and RS freshman Viciente DeLoach to keep that status. August will be interesting for all of them.

Assistant S&C Coach Tony Smith is interviewing this week at Temple to take over as their Strength & Conditioning Director. Tony is an important cog on Ruben Mendoza's staff, but we certainly wish him well in his quest for career advancement. "Tony does a great job. We'd hate to lose him, but in any profession you look for advancement and we are excited for him to get the opportunity to interview with Temple," Mendoza said.

When the artificial turf was installed in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium two years ago, there was also a 30-yard strip installed on one of the practice fields. Due to sub-par installation, it simply was not the same as the game field. In short, it didn't work out, despite it being a good idea. That strip of turf has been torn out and will be replaced with natural grass sod.

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