Here's the July installment as we get ready for next week's SEC Media Days and then, before you can bat an eye, the start of fall camp.
We're hearing. . .
* Of the remaining football signees who have not been declared academically eligible, the one the staff has the most concern about is one everyone thought was a done deal back in January: WR Q. Mireles.
The holdup? Mireles took some courses at a charter school that was not, at the time, accredited, or so we were told, so all those courses are being reviewed by the NCAA Clearinghouse. One might ask, what takes so long? Good question, but the simple answer is that the school in question had to provide a detailed course description of each course under question that Q. took while attending there.
We've been told it took time for that info to be provided to the NCAA. Now, they have to study the documentation to determine if the courses were legit. Sound complicated? It probably is, but leave it to the NCAA to make it more complicated than it should be. They sometimes have that knack.
The feeling on the inside is "good to great" on WR Vincent Sanders, CBs Tony Grimes and Cliff Coleman and DE Delvin Jones being eligible when August rolls around.
* We are asked, repeatedly, every day that rolls around in fact, about Tig Barksdale. You'll painfully recall the high school superstar from South Panola was suspended indefinitely during spring training for breaking team rules. Since then, we've been told, Tig has been exempliary in his behavior and has even completed some 18-20 hours of satisfactory course work, making him academically eligible. What's the holdup on making a decision on him? Frankly, we're a bit perplexed.
It seems the powers-that-be are weighing the compilation of past transgressions to try and determine if he should be a member of the Ole Miss football team. If you are asking for my opinion, I say to forget he's a football player. We live in a society, thankfully, that allows people second chances to redeem themselves from past mistakes. Based on Tig's actions the past several months, our vote would be a definite "yes" on allowing him to return. Will Ole Miss feel the same way? Remains to be seen, but there will be a definite answer pretty soon. That's the one thing we are sure of.
* Demarco Cox, the 6-9, 280-pound hoops signee from Yazoo City, is quickly making his presence known on the basketball team, if you don't mind the repetitive nature of this tidbit.
Cox, we understand, is going above and beyond the call of duty this summer - losing weight, working hard, being serious about attacking his course load and the basketball court. An early hunch - Cox will play as a true freshman and he may play to a higher level than anyone anticipated, except, perhaps, Demarco.
* It's pretty intimidating to see Drew's Terrell Brown in person, but once he flashes a smile and a "yes, sir" at you, you forget he's 6-11 and nearly 400 pounds. Terrell is working diligently to get his academics in order so he can walkon to the Ole Miss football team in August. We spoke to him last Saturday when we bumped into him at The Beacon and he's excited about his academic progress. First off the bus? Terrell Brown. P.S. - The young man could not sit at a regular booth in The Beacon. He didn't fit. That is one big, congenial, happy, massive, nice, dude.
* With WR Pat Patterson being dismissed from the team, a lot of talk has been centered around the wide receiver positions. Pat was being counted on, possibly in a big way. Now what? If Q. Mireles makes it, as well as Vincent Sanders, the Rebs will hold a pat hand. If Q. does not make it in here for the 2010 season, there is a possibility S Terrell Grant, who was signed as a wideout, could move back to WR after having been moved to safety during last year's Cotton Bowl practices.
The final decision has not been made yet, but him moving has been presented as a viable option. The sidebar to this tidbit is that Terrell wasn't moved to safety because he couldn't handle WR. He was moved because there was a need at safety and he had played there some before in high school. He can handle WR and we'd be surprised, if he's moved back, if he doesn't contribute at that position.
* When recently asked about QB Raymond Cotton's shoulder, which he has been rehabbing since spring training ended, Coach Houston Nutt almost giggled. "Beautiful - he's doing great. I think he's ready to go," Nutt said. That is certainly the hope because if there are lingering issues, the Rebs are left, essentially, with Nathan Stanley and newcomer JUCO Randall Mackey. As good an athlete as Mackey is, he knows very little of the Rebel offense and has a short time to learn.
* Speaking of Mackey, the word in the camp is that the coaches will concentrate on him solely as a quarterback for the time being when August drills crank up. When he was signed, most thought Mackey could be a multiple-position guy.
Well, he could be physically, but with Cotton's unpredictable situation, the coaches are left with no choice but to groom Randall exclusively at QB to teach him as much of the offense as possible in case something were to happen to Nate and Cotton's shoulder does not hold up.
Certainly, that does not exclude the Wild Rebel sets for Mackey, but we don't see any slot or tailback in his immediate future and both were tossed around at his signing.
* At the end of spring training, it was determined starting LG Alex "Tank" Washington needed to lose down to 325 pounds. He was hovering around 355-360, we were told. Tank is halfway there, now tipping the scales at 340. He's still got nearly three weeks to reach his goal. Sounds like 330 is a more reasonable goal, and that would be good enough to improve his movement and conditioning. Keep working, big fella.
* All systems seem "go" for DE Kentrell Lockett (minor knee surgery after spring), DT Justin Smith (second foot surgery for stress fracture) and DE Jason Jones (knee is fine, but still struggling a little with his hamstring). The only injury question mark remains RB Tim Simon, who had a devastating knee injury last year. Tim is still trying to overcome nerve damage to the knee which is hampering his rehab of all the repaired ligaments, etc. When will it come around? You cannot predict nerve damage rejuvenation. One of the mysteries of modern medicine.
* Who are the key backups, from spring, the coaches need to step up and be accountable this fall? On the defensive side of the ball, they are counting on DEs Gerald Rivers and Cameron Whigham, LB Mike Marry, S Frank Crawford, and CB Ryan Campbell. On offense, WR Ja-Mes Logan, OL Emmanuel McCray, TB Derrick Herman, FB H.R. Gree, TB/WR Korvic Neat and TE Reggie Hicks is a workable list. There are others, certainly, but those are the top guys who showed in spring they can do it. Now, they have to do it. It's more than a need with that group, it's a must.