Obviously, I am not a coach. Don't claim to be, don't want to be.
I have no way of knowing if the players are doing a good job assignment-wise unless a coach has told me so, which I will incorporate into this piece where applicable.
But through three practices I have witnessed, the following are notes I have taken on individual players, mostly about their athletic ability, partly off conversations with various coaches and partly my opinion.
In numerical order and for what it's worth:
1 - FS Kendrick Lewis: It was a good move to switch him to free safety from wide receiver. One, because he wanted to and when players are manning a position they want to play they are usually more motivated. S Coach Chris Rippon told me nobody on the team worked harder in the offseason. Two, he seems to have a knack for the position. He's got good size, good range and good anticipation of what's happening in front of him. He's a solid starter right now and will only get better.
2 - WR Mike Wallace: His speed is his main asset, as you already know, but he's starting to become a more complete wide receiver now in terms of using his speed more efficiently. He has shown a propensity for being dynamic in kickoff returns. He is catching the ball better and is learning to apply his speed to his position in his route running. Mike will be a lot better than he was last year and that progression should lead to substantially more production.
3 - WR Shay Hodge: The wide receiver slots need him back soon. I hear he's getting there and has a shot to play against Memphis, which is an ambitious goal after breaking his foot in the summer.
4 - QB Jevan Snead: The look, the arm, the demeanor, the size, the movement. It's all there, as advertised.
5 - CB Terell Jackson: Terrell is a pretty good football player who might be more suited for safety but, due to need, has been starting at one of the corner slots. Consistency was his Achilles heel in the past, but DC John Thompson says Jackson is working on that daily and, at this point, is making less mistakes than in the past, which is a major key to CB play. We know he's one of our better special teams players. Now he needs to become one of our better regulars at a position that needs a cure.
6 - RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: I waited to write this to make sure what I saw in the first practice I watched was the same thing I'd see in all of them. Ben is faster and quicker than he was last year. How much? I do not know, but it's enough that it is visible. I look for some of his 8-yard runs from a year ago turn into longer jaunts this year.
7 - QB Brent Schaeffer: His deal is not about ability. It's about consistency. It plagued him last year and obviously, from the current standing he has with the coaches on the depth chart, it's still a problem. I keep crossing my fingers that he'll get that fixed, but time is running short.
8 - WR Marshay Green: Electric, reliable, experienced. Get him the ball.
9 - LB Allen Walker: I expected the talented sophomore to make his move this camp and from everything I can gather, he was starting to do that until an injury cost him valuable time. He's been out over a week now. The timing of an injury couldn't have been worse for him.
9 - TB Jeremy McGee: It didn't take but a play or two to see the UCLA transfer is our fastest and most elusive back. Sitting out his transfer year will help him get bigger and stronger, which he needs.
11 - LB Ashlee Palmer: The scrimmage yesterday was the Ashlee everyone was waiting on. Flying around making big plays and big hits and using his best asset at LB - speed. It appears the position is becoming more second nature to him. There's no question about his athleticism.
12 - CB Dustin Mouzon: Certainly, you have to be a great athlete to succeed on this level at a cover position, but consistency in playing the position correctly - being in the right spots at the right times - is just as important. Mouzon is our most consistent corner.
13 - SS Jamarca Sanford: Stud. From atttidue to ability to experience to position knowledge to conditioning. He's one of our stalwarts and leaders.
14 - QB Michael Herrick: Some suggest Michael has a size problem. I don't buy it. Right now, he's playing catch up in the system. Remember he was running the scout team last year when Schaeffer and Seth Adams were getting "real" reps in the system. Makes a difference, which is showing now. He's very bright and has a good arm. Time is on his side.
15 - TE Robert Lane: Please find a way to get him the ball, if at all possible, five or six times a game. The man can make plays.
16 - WR Markeith Summers: Give him a little more time and Markeith will be a bigger part of the WR rotation. He's the best blocking WR we have and he's starting to get his WR legs back under him. Big target with solid hands. It's coming, just not as fast as any of us, Markeith included, would like.
19 - QB Seth Adams: The first half of yesterday's scrimmage made me go "uh-oh." The second half was more what I was hoping for. After a sluggish start, Seth got in a rhythm and moved the team well with good decisions, accurate passing and control of the flow of the game. Like the rest of the QBs, Seth has to keep plugging away at his consistency, but he's a determined young man who will continue to gives us all he's got every single day. My faith in him rose with yesterday's second half performance.
20 - FS Johnny Brown: Pure athlete with excellent instincts. He'll be a player here sooner rather than later. He's already penciled in as the starting nickel back. Nice start.
21 - WR Lionel Breaux: Very smooth athlete. I like those guys who are capable of doing good things exceptionally well while looking like they aren't even exerting themselves. All he needs is time to learn. One of the more impressive frosh, in my book.
22 - WR Dexter McCluster: Thank goodness he's healthy. Dynamic athlete and playmaker. Is he sound? Popped right up after being crushed by Palmer yesterday. That's all I needed to see.
23 - RB Bruce Hall: I know BenJarvus is the bell cow, but Bruce may be the best alternative we have had since the McAllister-Gunn days. I like everything about Bruce and love seeing the ball in his hands.
24 - CB Cassius Vaughn: Once he gets a little more consistent, don't be surprised if he takes over the position. Cassius made several very good plays on the ball yesterday that were impressive.
25 - RB Cordera Eason: Ditto everything said on Hall with one added caveat. Cordera is faster and shiftier than I thought he'd be in the open field. We are blessed to have the 1-2-3 punch at TB we do.
26 - DE LaDerrick Vaughn: I like him off the edge in pass rush. I will really like him when he gets to 230-240 pounds, which he will in time.
27 - SS Jamison Hughes: There's been a lot of talk about his running mate, FS Johnny Brown, but Jamison will be a good football player in his own right. Smart, big, runs well. He and Brown look formidable together in the secondary.
28 - CB Nate Banks: With his experience, Nate should be turning the corner any day now after he gets in shape from missing the first couple of weeks of camp. We need him to emerge until some of the younger corners catch on better.
30 - TB/FB Derrick Davis: Remarkable difference in a Davis favoring his knee (2006) and one who is not (now). He's showing he is viable this fall camp.
32 - FB/TB/TE Reggie Hicks: Seems to be developing into a jack-of-all trades. I like his future, regardless of where he plays.
35 - SS Fon Ingram: There's been more buzz about him lately. The word is that he's got a little Jamarca in him, he just needs time to develop.
37 - CB Jamariey Atterberry: Corner skills are good, we've been told, but a year in the weight room will do wonders for him, if he isn't pressed into immediate PT.
42 - LB Jonathan Cornell: Missed yesterday's scrimamge, but from all reports he'll be fine and, to this point, has been the best of all the linebackers.
43 - FB Andy Hartmann: If you don't like the way this kid plays the game, you don't like the true essence of football. As tough as they come.
44 - FB Jason Cook: In my eyes, the most underrated player on the team. The OL and the RBs seem to get all the credit for the running game. Don't forget Cookie's contributions.
45 - LB Jamie Phillips: A pleasant surprise out of nowhere last spring, Jamie is establishing himself as a reliable player. He's not flashy, but he seems to get the job done.
46 - DE Kentrell Lockett: Bad timing on an injury. Was set to make a mark this camp. Hopefully, his comeback bid in a few weeks will be productive and he can exhibit some of the skills everyone says he has.
47 - LB Tony Fein: Good against the run, but needs to learn to play faster. He said it himself - he has to get to the point where everything is second nature and he can turn loose. He's ready for that day to arrive. You have to love his physicality. He's a brute.
48 - LB Lamar Brumfield: Pretty athletic, as advertised. Just has more learning to do. Not being here in the summer put him behind the eight ball a bit, but he's getting there, I have been told.
51- C Corey Actis: The glue of the OL. Was missed in yesterday's scrimmage. It was obvious.
53 - LB Chris Strong: Who said you can't play LB at 265 pounds? This guy is a downhiller and moves way better than I anticipated a guy his size could. Kind of freakish.
54 - DL Jeremy Garrett: Disappointing that he hasn't practiced a bit this fall due to lingering soreness in his repaired knee. We need his experience up front.
57 - DL Jerrell Powe: Wow! If he sheds 30 pounds, he may. . . hell, he is already. Certainly, conditioning is a factor, but you can see when he's fresh he's got special skills and ability.
58 - LB Scottie Williams: I have no idea how he plays yet - haven't seen a whole lot of him on the field - but he looks good in a uniform. Give him some time.
62 - OG Don Mosley: Appears to be on his way to being a viable backup. Not bad for a RS freshman.
65 - OG Mark Jean-Louis: The offseason weight loss has helped his cause. He's a load and could be the "sixth man" on the OL once he gets everything down pat.
68 - DS Preston Powers: A reliable player at an undervalued position. His snaps seem to be there on time and on target. That's what you want.
71 - LG Reid Neely: Missed yesterday's scrimmage, but the word is he has locked down the position and is doing very well after a susprising spring put him in the spotlight.
72 - DT Daverin Geralds: Despite all the highly-touted DL on the team and the depth at those positions, he keeps popping up in the rotation making plays. Not bad for a converted OL.
73 - OL Alex Washington: Once he gets his body right, shedding some pounds and changing some things muscle-wise, he will be fine.
74 - LT Michael Oher: Preseason All-SEC for a reason.
75 - OG Rishaw Johnson: Has shown good athleticism and good potential. Very good feet, we've been told. Most athletic of the three frosh OL.
77 - RG John Jerry: How good is he? Nobody knows yet, but the production of the OL drops off significantly without him in the lineup. Kris Mangum was at a recent practice. He told me John is a "sure NFL player." I felt that all along, but to hear it from a 10-year NFL veteran who knows what he's looking at means way more.
78 - LT Bradley Sowell: If everyone on the team was as "mean" on the field as Bradley, we'd be a feared team. He's got a streak in him. Now he just has to work on his skills and body some more. Good future.
79 - RT Maurice Miller: What a blessing Mo was last year and he will only be better this year because he's trimmer and more motivated. A real solid guy for us, on and off the field.
84 - WR Michael Hicks: Fits in nicely as a big target on a "smallish" unit of WRs. He's made strides since spring and can be a valuable player in the rotation.
85 - TE Robert Hough: Solid, solid, solid. Gets the job done quietly.
86 - DE Greg Hardy; I like the ambitious plan for Greg. He's shown in practice he can handle a two-way role and be very, very good at both. Pure athlete.
88 - TE David Traxler: Needed extra punch in the running game. Perfect fit for that.
90 - DT Brandon Jenkins: His firepower and experience will be needed in the DL. He needs to catch up in a hurry though conditioning-wise after being in class the first two weeks of practice.
91 - DL Justin Sanders: Don't discount this guy for the future. While Powe, Ted Laurent and Lawon Scott have been the more ballyhooed frosh DL and may be further along right now, this kid isn't chopped liver. He has ability. He will make a mark somewhere in his career here.
92 - DE Marcus Tillman: What a future, starting now.
94 - DE LaMark Armour: On the comeback trail. Rusty right now, but he's got some usable skills.
96 - DL Lawon Scott: I mistakenly thought he was an after-thought signee last spring. Shows what I know. The kid can play and will only get better.
98 - DL Peria Jerry: I have said since last year we have not seen the "real" Peria Jerry. We will this year. You will be pleased and often time amazed. He's got it. Up front, on what could be a very good DL, Peria's THE MAN. Enough said.
99 - DL Ted Laurent: Currently out of practice awaiting word on his eligibility, but I saw enough of him to know he's got a bright future. He packs a punch and he's not even in peak shape right now. As good as advertised during recruiting and, along with Powe, Scott and Sanders gives us a signing day group of interior DL that I don't know has been matched here in a long, long time, if ever.
Obviously, I did not take notes on everyone on the team - didn't have time. I already know Josh Shene is an excellent kicker. I know Rob Park is an outstanding holder and reliable two-year starter at punter (even though he's in a battle now).
The biggest surprise to me, overall, has been the quality of the backups. When Ed Orgeron said we are deeper than we have been in his tenure, I didn't quite understand the degree of the depth he was referencing. Now I do.
When your backups include guys with the skills of Brandon Jenkins, Tony Fein, Johnny Brown, Allen Walker, Bruce Hall, Cordera Eason, Jamie Phillips, Reggie Hicks, David Traxler, Cassius Vaughn, Ted Laurent, Markeith Summers, Mike Hicks, Lionel Breaux and Andy Hartmann, just to name a few very good football players who are not starting for us, it drives the depth point home a little more.
I don't know what this season will bring - there are strengths and weaknesses that are apparent, but after taking notes and observing them work on a limited basis, my excitement level about them has definitely risen.
Footnote: Any player not included was not intentional. Three practices is not a lot of time to take notes and make observations.
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