Ashlee Palmer update -

When Ashlee Palmer was signed to a football scholarship at Ole Miss last December, he had visions of being a hard-hitting safety. Not long after arriving on campus, he was told he would be an outside linebacker. At first, he was concerned. Now, he loves his new position.

Ashlee Palmer did not know what to expect the first time he stepped on the Ole Miss practice fields.

It wasn't just the normal adjustment junior college players have to make to Division I - in this case, the SEC level, Palmer was also saddled with learning a new position.

After arriving in Rebelville, Palmer was told the coaches wanted to see how he'd do at outside linebacker.

"I had to not only get used to the speed and intensity of a higher level of football, I had to learn a completely new position," said the personable Palmer. "It took me a week or so in spring training, but I started getting the hang of it. Then, I started liking linebacker.

"I was pretty uncomfortable at first. I had been a safety/quarterback in high school and I was worried if I could handle it, but once I got in there, I got more and more comfortable."

The biggest adjustment was direction. Yes, direction.

"At safety, you are going backwards a lot. At linebacker, you are more downhill," he explained. "And you are closer to the action and have react quicker and read things quicker at LB."

The physicality of the position has not been an issue, he stated.

"I have always considered myself a physical player, so linebacker is not that big a deal to me from the hitting part of it," he said. "Playing physical is not a problem for me. If you aren't physical, you are in the wrong sport. If you aren't physical in football, what are you?"

While a new position was the major roadblock he faced, there were speed issues as well.

"Things move fast all around you on this level. In JUCO, there were some fast players. On this level, everyone is fast at their positions. The linemen are faster, the backs, the tight ends, the wideouts - everyone. It's a speed game on this level," he attested. "Even the reads are faster. With the players being faster, everything develops faster and you have to read things a lot quicker on this level."

Palmer found out in spring training that he belongs and that linebacker suits him.

"I know the playbook well now. I still have fine-tuning to do, but that is what August is about," Ashlee, now over 220 pounds, stated. "I'm a good enough athlete to be a factor here and to contribute.

"My goal is to do what I can do to help the team, regardless of the role. If I can impact the team, great. If my role isn't as big as I'd like, do it to the best of my ability until I can build my role up."

Palmer came out of spring as the number two strong linebacker behinde Antonio Turner, but Turner is having to take a late course for a couple of weeks into practice and will not practice until mid-August.

Will he take over the spot in that time frame? Don't bet against him.

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