Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt and his staff welcomed the varsity in today (Sunday) after 34 newcomers reported yesterday (Saturday).
The following is a transcript of a media briefing Nutt held Sunday afternoon.
Nutt: Everyone reported today except Jamarca Sanford and Michael Oher. Jamarca's uncle passed away and Michael was also close to him. They attended his funeral this afternoon. They will be here later this afternoon. Everyone else is here ready to go and we are really excited. The last few Rebel Club meetings we've had, we have noticed the fans are excited and can't wait for football. That just gives us a little more motivation and excites us even more due to how the fans feel. We are very appreciative of that. Right now, we are just getting everyone situated. We will have our first meal together as a team tonight at 6:30 and then we will have a team meeting at 7:30. Tomorrow, we will meet with them right after breakfast then we'll walk through a few things. Tomorrow afternoon, at 5:30, we will have our first practice. We will just be in helmets tomorrow.
Q: You have been saying since spring that one of your biggest tasks with this team will be a mental transformation since they have never won in this league. Have you seen some progress in that regard this summer?
Nutt: We have. I am going to tell them tonight that I think we have 'won' the summer. What I mean by that is, from what Coach Decker tells me, their attitude has been very good. They have given us what we asked and helped and encouraged each other to get better. It's been hot all summer, but they have showed up with an attitude of looking forward to working and putting in the effort. That, to me, is a big part of it. You'd be disappointed if your seniors did not show, but they did. I'm really happy with how they have responded. The mental part is a key hurdle we have to continue working on.
Q: Did you have a good percentage here this summer?
Nutt: In talking to Coach Decker, we did. And in talking about it with the seniors, attendance was very good.
Q: Can you give us some clarification on Antonio Turner being reinstated with the team and reporting yesterday?
Nutt: Antonio missed spring and was reinstated in school this fall. He will pay his own way and be a walkon. We brought him in for some help on the scout team defensive line and it will be good for us and him.
Q: How would you describe your two-a-days?
Nutt: We talked about that some yesterday. Basically, we will rehearse in the mornings inside and then go full bore in the afternoons. We have gotten away from two-a-days a little, but we'll still be working in the mornings in the classroom and on the indoor field for 50 minutes or so. It's not like it was in the past, where players showed up in August and you were wondering who was in shape and who wasn't. These guys have been working all spring and summer, so we know they are in shape. There's no need to go through that trasition anymore.
Q: When is the first day of pads?
Nutt: Wednesday or Thursday.
Q: Besides Laurent, will anyone miss any time due to injury starting off?
Nutt: Melvin Harris, a freshman WR, broke his foot early in the summer. We may hold him out a week. He's here and will be in every meeting. He's on schedule, but we felt we needed to wait one more week.
Q: Will your intersession guy miss any practice time?
Nutt: He will miss morning meetings, but he should be out there for afternoon practices. I will allow him to practice after he fills his classroom obligations during the early part of the day.
Q: Who is no longer on the team that was on the team in spring?
Nutt: WR Michael Hicks, S Colby Arceneaux, LB Chris Strong, LB Isaiah Smith and LB Brandon Thomas. Colby wanted to play right now, so he has transferred to NW State. He's a great young man I wish all the best.
Q: What are the areas you want to see come around the first couple of weeks based on spring evaluations?
Nutt: For everyone, blocking and tackling and fundamentals. That's step one. But more specifically, I want to see the secondary come around and take a step forward. Then, our kicking game. We will place major emphasis on the kicking game. That will be our first meeting tomorrow morning. We will be picking people for the different units and making it a big deal if you are selected. Then, I want to see the offense get more physical and be very stingy with the ball. Those are the three main areas to me.
Q: What are your expectations for this team?
Nutt: Expectations are always high with the fans. It does not matter if you tell them we didn't win a game in the SEC 500 times. (chuckles) There's new hope and a new beginning. My expectations are simple. I want to take up where we left off in spring and I want to be a better team every time we leave the field after every practice. But I really want these seniors to experience a bowl game and all that goes with it. It tugged at my heart when all of these seniors told me they had never been to a bowl game. I want that badly for them. That is my number one goal.
Q: What was the story with Hicks?
Nutt: I don't like taking scholarships, but I had to send a message to some that having a scholarship here is a privelege and they need to cherish it and make the most of it. Whether it be academics, attitude or whatever, they have to know it's a privelege to be an Ole Miss Rebel. Some did not have that attitude. Everyone who transferred out of here has been placed to play football somewhere.
The following is a list of players who reported yesterday. Sports Information is still compiling the height/weight/hometown data on some.
Freshman TE/DE Ferbia Allen, frosh RB Brandon Bolden, senior RB Marcus Crockett, frosh RB Enrique Davis, frosh TE E.J. Epperson, junior C Brandon Green, frosh FB H.R. Greer, frosh OL Brent Hanson, frosh WR Andrew Harris, junior TE Gerald Harris, frosh WR Melvin Harris, frosh S Lekenwic Haynes, frosh CB Derrick Herman, frosh LB Marques Jenkins, frosh LB Jason Jones, sophomore QB Layton Jones, junior CB Demareo Marr, RS frosh S Jared Mitchell, frosh CB Aaron Nichols, senior DE Jermey Parnell, forsh OL Bobby Peterson, frosh DL Gerald Rivers, frosh PK Bryson Rose, frosh DB Brandon Sanders, frosh DE Justin Smith, frosh QB Nathan Stanley, junior DE Emmanuel Stephens, forsh OL Josh Tatum, frosh DB Marcus Temple, frosh RB Devin Thomas, junior LB Patrick Trahan, senior DE Antonio Turner, RS frosh CB Julian Whitehead, and frosh S Rudy Wilson.
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