What to Watch For

The 2010 version of spring practice comes to an end today, as Ole Miss takes to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the annual Red-Blue game at 1 p.m.

Surprises were few and far between over the allotted 15 practices, but some unlikely names emerged as possible candidates for playing time come the Sept. 4 season opener against Jacksonville State.

So with the dog days of summer around the corner and football on the backburner until SEC Media Days in mid-July, let's take a look at some interesting storylines worth watching when the Rebels take the field one last time.

All about Nate:

Everyone loves a good quarterback battle. That is, unless it becomes a one-man race.

For the better part of two weeks, sophomore Nathan Stanley has done enough to cement himself as the frontrunner to replace Jevan Snead this fall.

Nathan Stanley

He entered the spring with a slight lead over redshirt freshman Raymond Cotton, only to extend it with Cotton sidelined due to a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.

"I think I came a long way," Stanley said. "I got a lot better with my fundamentals and with reading defenses. The guys have responded to me. We're a pretty tight group and they've accepted me."

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt has often showered praise on his still-young signal-caller. And as Stanley's confidence grew as the practice schedule wore on, the offense began to make noticeable improvement.

Stanley became more accurate during spring, especially last weekend, when he completed 10-of-19 for 137 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in the second of two full-pad scrimmages.

Another stacked D-Line:

Expect no defensive drop-off next season. Why? Well, just look across a stacked defensive line.

Jerrell Powe

From Jerrell Powe to Kentrell Lockett, Ole Miss offers a veteran bunch littered with talent.

Wayne Dorsey, though still in the early stages of his development, has stepped into a starting role and made a fine impression with flashes of raw, natural ability.

The unit has made offensive consistency nearly impossible in spring drills, especially the defensive tackles, who've caused disruption far more often than not.

Even better, most, if not all, of the core are juniors and seniors. Don't believe me? Count em' up if you've got nothing better to do.

Who's No. 1?

The debate of who will replace Shay Hodge as the team's No. 1 receiver has long been exhausted. But sorry, Spirit denizen; one more paragraph is coming your way.

Where things currently stand, Markeith Summers seems to be the only sure-bet for a starting spot in the Ole Miss receiving corps.

Ja-Mes Logan

Lionel Breaux is obviously ranked highly as well, but is being pushed by Jesse Grandy and Ja-Mes Logan.

Actually, considering the small sample size, Logan has stood out from a limited pack. He's sure-handed and isn't afraid to make a tough catch in traffic, plus he carries similar traits to his admitted mentor in Hodge.

Summers and Grandy both possess better speed, however, and dynamic big-play capability.

Pat Patterson... Bueller? Bueller?

Revis Island:

OK, so I doubt any Ole Miss cornerback will ever be mistaken for the New York Jets' Darrelle Revis, but at least the group held up fairly well on the lonely island this spring.

Starters Jeremy McGee and Marcus Temple were steady, though not spectacular. In fairness, McGee struggled with a hand injury that was heavily wrapped all spring.

Still, McGee and Temple are sure to be challenged once August rolls around. Charles Sawyer is blossoming into a potential fixture at the position, while Ryan Campbell made a late push through solid work in the final weeks.

A few good men:

Lastly, we mustn't forget the offensive line.

Ole Miss knows what it has in tackles Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell. However, outside of right guard Rishaw Johnson, who has starting experience under his belt, plenty of uncertainty still remains. A.J. Hawkins is currently manning center, with Alex Washington beside him at left guard.

Emmanuel McCray, Evan Swindall, Michael Brown and Josh Tatum are key names to keep an eye on. They'll be needed next season, as depth is virtually non-existent.

McCray is an intriguing candidate. He's rotated between guard and tackle. Swindall opened the spring atop the depth chart at center, but he still needs time in the strength and conditioning program, considering he sat out a year due to greyshirt.

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