Ole Miss' game notes for this weekend's opener against Memphis included a depth chart that shed some light on how position battles had fared. However, tight end wasn't one of them.
JUCO transfer Gerald Harris is situated on top, but in bold and to the right of his name, the word "OR" negates that junior's name being up first. One line below sits David Traxler; the tackle turned tight end, who could also grab the majority of the snaps when the Rebels aren't occupying a two-tight set.
Traxler appeared in all 12 games last season at the new position, but his opportunities were minimal due to then-seniors Robert Lane and Robert Hough.
The senior, as expected, is a more than capable blocker, and his hands have been a pleasant surprise. He and quarterback Jevan Snead had success during seven-on-seven drills over the summer. With his six-foot-six, 255-pound frame, Traxler is a viable target. But both Traxler and Harris agree, individual happenings are a distant second.
"We are trying to do everything that is asked," Traxler said. "We are on the line, in the trenches just like the guys on the O-line. Hopefully we can get some balls, but whatever they want is what we are going to do.
"All we want to do is win. That is all it comes down to. If it means blocking the defensive end every single play, I am doing it."
An understood opinion considering the Rebels have posted a 10-25 record since Traxler arrived in Oxford. He was recruiting during Eli Manning's senior season and redshirted in 2004, David Cutcliffe's final year at Ole Miss.
"It has been good (during the spring), it is the best team has come together in my five years," Traxler said. "We had a meeting and all dedicated ourselves. I couldn't be happier coming into the game with this team."
Playing tackle as a freshman and sophomore, Traxler started a combined three games and played in eight total contests. The switch came during the spring before 2007, and it has been a welcomed transition because staying at a weight necessary of an offensive lineman was difficult.
"I lost 35-40 lbs., (to play tight end), but it is more natural this way," Traxler said. "I was doing fine where I was, but I felt like I could help the team more by moving. I was fortunate to get to move, and I am where I am today.
"I was fighting to keep my weight before, eating everything in sight. Now, I can eat anything I want and stay about the same. I'm a lot quicker and can move, get open in routes. As long as I can be effective, it is all working out."
Working out because of his production but also due to the possibilities surrounding the team. Whether Traxler trots out on the opening series or waits his turn while Harris steps in the huddle, the scoreboard 60 minutes later will dictate how the day can be rated.
"We are hungry and just want to win. He (Coach Nutt) has put us in a position to do it."
Traxler Has Team Goals First
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