Practice Report: Wednesday

With the redshirt freshman duo of QB Nathan Stanley and WR Melvin Harris simulating Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, the Rebels worked hard Wednesday on the Cotton Bowl gameplan. Read about it inside.

The Rebels picked up where they left off yesterday, with a hard-hitting Wednesday practice focusing on Texas Tech and a few periods with the younger players.

"We had another good day. I am really proud of the team's attitude and the way they come to practice to work hard. We've had some spirited practices and today was another one," said Coach Houston Nutt. "I know it gets like a broken record, but the work we are getting our young guys is so important and valuable.

"Ferbia Allen made some nice catches today that excited me and LaKenwic Haynes and Jason Jones are two young linebackers who are knocking heads. Nathan Stanley has been good too. You see good futures out of those guys. We probably won't scrimmage the younger guys much more - they are very sore right now and we need them for scout team duty. Maybe one more session of scrimmaging for them before the Christmas break."

Senior OG Muarice Miller was back at practice today but his eligibility for the bowl game has still not been confirmed.

"We are still waiting on a couple of grades on Maurice. We held him out yesterday so he could go get his work done," Nutt stated. "We are hopeful."

Freshman TE E.J. Epperson dislocated his left wrist Tuesday and was in Jackson today getting it "fixed." He's expected to be out until "spring practice, we hope." E.J. will travel to the bowl game but he's finished practicing for this year.

Nutt was asked about junior DE Emmanuel Stephens.

"I love the rotation Coach (Tracy) Rocker has and he's a big part of that at defensive end," Nutt stated. "He brings a lot of energy, quickness and strength to the table. When you combine him with Tillman, Lockett and Hardy, you have four guys you are very comfrotable with at DE."

Random Notes:

* Freshman RB Devin Thomas sat out today's workout with a lower back issue, but he said he expects to be back at practice "soon."

* Former Rebel OL Belton Johnson is back in Oxford for the offseason after a successful year with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders of the CFL. The Rough Riders went 12-6 this year and Belton has resigned with GM Eric Tillman for another year. "We miss Coach (Kent) Austin, but I love it there," said Johnson. Belton said little brother Marcus is in the last year of his contract with Minnesota of the NFL and is likely to be a free agent after the season. "Marcus built a house in Oxford and we will spend the offseason there and working out in the IPF," said Belton. "We are so proud what the Rebels have accomplsihed this year. We're excited to go to the Cotton Bowl."

* Redshirt frosh OT Alex Washington has gone from 362 pounds to 320 pounds. He is now a 440-pound bench presser and according to one of the strength coaches, "Tank" is a very hard worker. So what appears to be holdin him back? "He's working hard on his footwork and movement.Alex has come a long way. I think he's ready to blossom," said the S&C staffer.

* The onlookers were in the presence of two Associatede Press First-Team All-Americans today - DT Peria Jerry and OT Michael Oher. "To have two lineman on the AP All-American team is something I have never had before," said Nutt. "We are real proud of them. They are both deserving and I'd like to thank our sports information department for spreading the work about their accomplishments so voters were aware of what they had done."

* When TB Enrique Davis entered Ole Miss mid-summer last year, it was apparent to any observer he did not have "natural" hands in the receiving game. Enrique stayed after practice many days working on his catching skills. Now, five months later, Davis is very competent. His hands are "softer" and have even become quite reliable, which should go a long way in helping him see the field more in future years.

* If Greg Hardy stays for his senior season, it will be difficult for freshman Gerald Rivers to crack the DE rotation next year, but look out in the future. Rivers is already 235 pounds, up 13 pounds from when he reported, and he will be a 300-pound clean guy the next time they max in the weight room. His goal is to get his body weight up to 250 pounds by next August. If he reaches that goal, he will push for playing time. "He's active and quick, a real good athlete. He just needs to get stronger," said Nutt. "Like Haynes and Jones, Gerald has an excellent future."

* As Nutt said, Ferbia Allen showed out in the passing game today. Wait til next year. . . Ferbia is already up to 235 pounds with a goal of 250 by August. He will be a load at 250 with his pass receiving skills.

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