Ole Miss Fotoball Coach Ed Orgeron opened up his daily post-practice press conference with a smile that centered around more good news about a trio of rookies.
He was excited with three young players who burst on the scene today, ironically, all three defensive ends.
"We had a couple of big-time performances today by young defensive ends - Marcus Tillman, Kentrell Lockett and Greg Hardy," began Coach O. "They really performed well today. They had some sacks and played the run well. I was excited about the way they played today.
"The defense had a pretty good day today, but those kids stood out. Marcus can play rush (LEO) end and defensive end. Greg and Kentrell are more rush end candidates because they are a little lighter right now. Marcus is really coming on strong. Kentrell is showing some toughness and pass rushing ability. Greg Hardy did well also. All three shined today."
Coach O was asked about freshmen receivers Kendrick Lewis and Shay Hodge and the progress they have made.
"Shay had a good day today. We had a couple of third-down series today and Shay made a nice catch over the middle. Kendrick Lewis made a fantastic catch down the sidelines today," O noted. "Kendrick has an outstanding pair of hands. Shay is elusive - he was a basektball player and is a good athlete."
O also had some good things to say about RS frosh WR Michael Hicks.
"Mike has worked hard and is earning a spot. He's made some good catches as well this camp," he added.
Another freshman the media wanted to know about was Cassius Vaughn.
"He's doing well. He's at corner and is getting some second team and first team reps. He's doing good," O assessed.
The subject eventually always gets back to the eligibility status of LB Rory Johnson, since a decision based on the completion of his coursework in the next couple of days is expected soon.
"We expect to hear something soon. His finish was delayed a couple of days, but I expect to hear something in a couple of days," Orgeron commented. "When he gets here, he'll have to go through an acclimation period, but we'll be real happy to have him. We will have to see his conditioning, we don't know where that is because he's been working on academics this summer and we don't know how much running he's done.
"If we had been here four or five years, it might not be as vital for him to get here, but we have identified him as a guy we need to get here and a guy we need to play. We have to get him ready. Will he have the conditioning level we need? Maybe not, but he might be a better athlete and we'll put him out there if he is."
Coach O was asked about some of the developing offensive linemen, specifically Reid Neely, David Traxler, Marcus Cohen and Corey Actis.
"They are coming along. Reid is doing well, but he's not ready to start yet. He's still learning what he needs to do. Marcus is having an OK camp. Traxler is not practicing right now but we expect him back soon," Coach O stated. "Actis has gained some weight, gotten stronger and has learned the system. We are pleased with him and that's real good news for that center position."
Coach O has mentioned FS Allen Walker several times in the first three days so he was asked about the Olive Branch product's continued progress.
"I think Allen Walker has a chance to be really, really good. He's athletic and he has a temperament about himself that you like on defense," Coach O noted. "He's at home at free safety. He's showing good leadership skills for a freshman."
Coach O did not mention if he has made up his mind about the first day of pads or not. Tomorrow is the first day he can put full pads on his team, he said in Monday's press conference.
Practice Report: Tuesday
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