Lets take a look at which newcomers are in the two deep rotation for the defense.
Leading the way are two of the more highly thought of players to come out of the state of Mississippi in many years in DT Jerrell Powe and MLB Chris Strong.
Coach Orgeron announced at media day that both Chris and Jerrell have taken over the starting slots in their respective positions. In fact, Coach O sounded as if these two former Army All-Americans would be the center piece for their front seven for many years to come.
"At nose tackle Jerrell Powe has come in and been everything we expected. Hes a great young man. He works hard. Hes getting in football shape, and hes showing where he can be a force. I mean a force in the middle," added Ed Orgeron.
"But I will say this, after one day with shoulder pads, we put Chris Strong as our starting Mike linebacker. We feel he can handle it. We feel hes going to be a great football player. He has to get through the clearinghouse, but hes exactly what we wanted there. Boy are we excited about him," added Coach O.
It is always fun watching the pups grow up as players, but from watching these two on the high school and now college level (although limited on the later level), they are not your normal "freshmen". Both have a great desire to be all they can be. You add that to their God given natural ability, or as Coach O says, they are "fast twitch". This expresses one's game that has a fast reaction time along with quick feet and hands. In other words, these phrase is used for players who are very explosive, both physically and mentally.
Barring injury, both of these players will be spending many years playing on Sundays and are what you term as "franchise" players.
Another '07 signee, Ashlee Palmer, has taken over the starting slot at one of the outside linebacker positions. Ashlee is long, rangy, and is very physical for a player who spent the majority of his career playing skilled positions.
Yet two more incomers are expected to figure in prominently at the linebacker positions in Jamie Phillips and Tony Fein. Both players came to Ole Miss via the juco route and both players are running second string.
Jamie is going to always be at the right place at the right time and will never do anything to hurt you, while Tony brings a physical presence to the lineup and works well in the middle of the field.
Heading to the defensive backfield, another newcomer that has turned heads at the Ole Miss camp is Johnny Brown. The 208 pound safety has been getting in many reps with the first team defense and will be another player that Coach Orgeron builds his program around.
"Backing him (Kendrick Lewis) up and starting in our nickel package is Johnny Brown. Fantastic young man from the Delta. One of our better freshmen. A great athlete and a great player. We believe Johnny has a bright future here," stated Coach Orgeron.
Also figuring into the rotation at the media day practice from the secondary unit were CB Jamariey Atterberry and S Colby Arceneaux.
It was no secret that the rebels were thin at cornerback so Jamariey will have to ready to play. He looks a little "lost" right now, like most freshmen do during their first week of practice, but you can tell the potential is there.
Jamariey Atterberry has the size (6 foot) and quickness that the Rebels are looking for.
Many people probably thought Colby Arceneaux was a "package" deal for Joe McKnight but Colby has been the biggest surprise at the camp yet.
"Colby Arceneaux. Every time you look out there, Colby Arceneaux is making plays. Hes not the biggest, hes not the fastest. But Ill tell you what, hes getting interceptions, hes already showing leadership abilities on our football team. Were glad hes here," added Coach O.
Ingram was also in the rotation on Monday as he ran in and out of the 2nd
and 3rd team units.
Fon Ingram is just silky smooth, and you can tell he shows great promise, but he will have to learn the playbook to make a true impact this season.
S Jamison Hughes also received high praise from Coach Orgeron at the press conference.
"We are really excited about Jamison Hughes, stated Coach O. He is a young guy from Oxford, (assistant coach) Tony Hughes son. A good athlete. We think he has a bright future here along with Fon Ingram."
And lastly when we are going over the newcomers on defense, we would be foolish to not go over the defensive line.
We have already covered Jerrell Powe but Ole Miss also had three more newcomers in the two deep chart for the defensive line during the media day practice. They were DE LaDerrick Vaughan, DT Ted Laurent, and DT Lawon Scott.
LaDerrick Vaughan obviously needs to add some bulk to his 6' 3", 215 pound frame, but he has that burst that all great rush ends have. With Chris Bowers and Kentrell Lockett out of practice on Monday, LaDerrick got the bulk of the snaps with the second team and played with great intensity and played "down hill".
"LaDerrick Vaughn from Memphis were moving from outside linebacker to put his hand
on the ground. Hes had several sacks with his speed. Were using him
as a nickel rusher, and hes having an outstanding camp," stated Rebel
head coach, Ed Orgeron
Ted Laurent was described by Jerrell Powe as the "best defensive tackle" in our group. Why? Powe says he is extremely strong in the upper body and has a great first step. We noticed the same things too. Powe and Laurent have the ability to become the best one/two punch at defensive tackle for years to come in the SEC if they stay healthy and stay in condition.
The other signee in camp that has been a huge surprise, like Colby, is Lawon Scott.
Lawon is being described as a rich man's Jeremy Garrett. By that, it is meant that he is a student of the game like Garrett but possesses more athleticism.
"Lawon Scott has shown some quickness. Hes a 300-pound freshman, and hes playing very well up front for us."
It is the late signees in the recruiting period that make or break your class. Everyone is going to miss on some Plan A recruits, so you have to make sure your Plan B signees are going to end up contributing to your team. Both Colby and Lawon look to be not only contributors, but players who could make an impact on the team for years to come.
Another defensive signee who might take a redshirt this season so they can add some bulk to his frame but shows big time skills is Scottie Williams. The Georgia native came into Ole Miss as a strong safety, played linebacker during the summer, and might end up at defensive end before it is all said and done.
Where ever he plays, Scottie will be an impact player as he shows elite athleticism and a nose for the ball.
While the defensive side of the ball needed the most immediate help from the incoming class, there are several offensive players that figure to play a prominent role.
WR Lionel Breaux was getting in several snaps with the one unit at receiver and has made an immediate impact for the wideouts.
Lionel has great hands, reads the quarterback well, and has superior speed and quickness. He is what Coach O calls a "playmaker"..
"A guy thats coming along and coming along fast is Lionel Breaux. Defensive-minded Coach Ed Orgeron wanted him on defense and didnt do much there; he asked me to move. Said Coach I think I can do better on offense, and he had a tremendous scrimmage on Saturday. Hes coming along there, and hopefully we found us a playmaker, stated Coach Orgeron"
The offensive line might be the biggest strength for the team but three newcomers will most likely be in the rotation. They are OG Mark Jean Louis, OG Bradley Sowell, and OG Rishaw Johnson.
Mark Jean Louis
came into Ole Miss around 360, but he reported into fall camp at 330 and is night
and day better than he was in the Spring. One unnamed player tol me that Mark
was the toughest offensive linemen they had on the team. That's some mighty high
praise coming from a line that has a few players that are NFL bound.
When you look at Rishaw Johnson, he looks kind of wiry compared to the rest of the offensive line, but he reported in at 315. Just goes to show you how much more good weight you can carry when you have the right frame, which Rishaw certainly has.
Johnson has the best flexibility out of all of the newcomers. Rishaw has already moved ahead of Don Mosley for second team right guard. He will be fun to watch for the next four years.
Bradley Sowell played his senior season at 370 and is down to a slim 310 now and is showing flashes of becoming a dominant SEC lineman in time. Sowell stands at 6' 9" but his hip flexibility allows him to get good leverage in the run blocking game and his nasty demeanor on the field does not go unnoticed. This kid will simply tangle it up with anybody on the field and lives to tell you about it.
"Bradley Sowell has obviously lost a lot of weight and is looking good out there. Rishaw Johnson is at left guard. We feel Rishaws going to be an excellent player. Mark Jean-Louis was about 367 pounds is down to about 330 and doing an excellent job. So were developing depth," added Ed Orgeron.
Two more newcomers on offense are being forced to take a redshirt due to the transfer rules, but make no bones about it Texas transfer Jevan Snead is everything he was built up to be, and RB Jeremy McGee is going to make an impact at running back next season.
Jevan Snead has great pocket presence and an arm that can carry the team. He is going to be very exciting to watch for the three seasons after this year.
Jeremy McGee came to Ole Miss from UCLA, and he gives the Rebels a needed injection of elusiveness and quickness that is lacking from the tailback group.
"Were really excited about Jeremy McGee, our transfer from UCLA. He gives us some quickness in the backfield. Weve got a bunch of big backs. Jeremy gives us a change in direction with quickness in the backfield. Were really excited about his performance," added Ed Orgeron.
Juco transfer, P Bryan Powers, has had a pretty
good camp and is battling Rob Park for the starting job.
"At punter, Rob Park and Bryan Powers are fighting it out. Theres a battle. One will have a good day, and then the other. Bryan has been inconsistent. Were letting those guys battle it, out along with Justin Sparks," added Ed Orgeron.
Last year's class brought in 18 newcomers that contributed.
They were Corey Actis, Jonathan Cornell, Marcus Green, Bruce Hall, Greg Hardy, Shay Hodge, John Jerry, Dexter McCluster, Brent Schaeffer, Rory Johnson, Josh Shene, Marcus Tillman, Cassius Vaughn, Kendrick Lewis, Cordera Eason, Heyward Howard, and Jamal Harvey.
In fact, 10 of these newcomers started multiple games for the Rebels and two (Cornell and Hall) were in the regular playing rotation.
Can the '07 class match these numbers?
It would be hard for them to have more than 10 newcomers
to become starters in their freshman season because the roster is more talented
now and most of the starters are back from last year's club.
But if this week's practices were any indication, you would see Chris Strong, Jerrell Powe, Ashlee Palmer, and maybe Lionel Breaux and Johnny Brown starting from day one, which is more than you saw last year from the '06 signees to start the season.
In addition to these five, you could see Jamie Phillips, Ted Laurent, Lawon Scott, Tony Fein, Lamar Brumfield, Bradley Sowell, Rishaw Johsnon, Colby Arceneaux, Mark Jean Louis, LaDerrick Vaughan, and Jamariey Atterberry all in the two man depth chart.
For those that are counting, that totals 17 newcomers getting significant playing time, while a few more like Jamison Hughes, Fon Ingram, and Scottie Williams all could play a role on this year's team.
You add the two transfers to the equation, and you will begin to see why so many people say the Rebels are on the Rise!