Freshmen impress

Coach Houston Nutt met with reporters right after the first day of August practice and his opening statement said it all.


"Our freshmen and newcomers were impressive. Those guys don't look like freshmen. They are impressive. They are physically ahead of the game for their age and I'm proud of that," Nutt said. "Guys like Patrick Trahan - a guy with a ton of upside who is just behind right now because he's been in school all summer. Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis and Devin Thomas - everything good you've heard about them is true and I agree with it all. WR Andrew Harris and all the DBs looked pretty good. It was just the first day, but a lot of those new kids left a good impression with me."

And based on these untrained eyes, we would have to agree.

First, this practice was conducted without pads and hitting, so it was a "limited" observation. But here are some of things that I did see on the offensive side of the ball.

 

The running back position got most of the pub with the signings of Enrique Davis, Brandon Bolden, and Devin Thomas, and H.R. Greer. Davis was the country's top prep school player, according to Scout.com, and Davis was an Army All-American.

But what I first noticed in the cone drills were how quick H.R. Greer's feet are for a fullback. He is very light on his feet and has a great frame to go with it. Enrique is already "physically" there, as he looks like a veteran SEC player, body wise. Once he gets adjusted to the college speed and playbook, he has a chance to be a special one. When you see Bolden, it is hard not to notice those "pipes" he sports, but what you also notice is that he loves to go North and South. There is no juking around, just straight ahead. And Thomas runs like he is floating on water. It is almost like he is running on his tip toes, quick...quick...quick...

QB Nathan Stanley is all of 6' 5", and I tell you what, he could be the steal of the class. Yes he was highly recruited and thought of, but he played bigger than his reputation. He has a quick release and sees the field like a veteran. And what you love about the Oklahoma native is how calm he is in the pocket. Nutt said he likes to put his QB's in a 3rd and 8 situation to see how they react. Do they "panic" or do they deliver? Nathan delivers.

A couple targets that Nathan and the rest of the QB's will be tossing the ball around to this year are TE E.J. Epperson and WR Andrew Harris.

 

E.J. made a one handed grab over Cassius Vaughn on a go route, from none other than Nathan Stanley (get use to that combo folks) and stopped on a dime, made Fon Ingram miss, and accelerated past all of the DB's for a 68 yard scoring strike. My mouth dropped, and I thought to myself, "they might have another Rufus French." No, I am not saying Epperson is going to be another Rufus by watching him in one practice, but I do know that he is as athletic as any tight end I have seen since Rufus at Ole Miss.

TE Ferbia Allen also has a great frame and a lot of upside.

WR Andrew Harris came out of Hargrave pretty highly touted. The former West Virginia signee is tall and rangy. But what I liked about him was his hand-eye coordination, as he made several nice adjustments with the ball in the air. Harris has a great frame, hands, and athleticism. Once he gets his routes down, Andrew will be ready for the SEC wars.

The Rebels received some bad news on the offensive line front when it was learned that OL Kermit Tyler would no longer be able to play football again. But the good news is that the other OL newcomer, Josh Tatum, looked the part physically and moved very well for a big man during the drills.

Again, there is only so much you can learn without the pads on, but Josh more than passes the eye test and came in much better condition than many expected due to his late arrival.

Overall, do not be surprised if you see Epperson, Enrique, and Brandon heavily contributing this Fall.


Special Note

WR Melvin Harris broke his ankle the second day he arrived in Oxford in early June, but was wearing a helmet and shorts, and did limited work in the drills today. Coach Nutt said he has not been cleared to play, but he has been cleared to do limited work. He hopes to redshirt Melvin and said that Harris reminded him of Marcus Monk but with more speed.

All of the other offensive signees were on the field practicing, minus Kermit Tyler, who has been put on a medical athletic scholarship.


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