Here are practice news and notes from Day 1 of fall camp...
The lads hit the field this morning in shorts and helmets. They were greeted to 94 degree temps, with a heat index of 109 degrees. I personally thought the guys held up well considering the heat and being put through a very brisk pace. The team was energetic and there seemed to be a great deal of carry over from the Spring. The practice was very business like, with long periods of reacquainting players with scheme and assignment.
Video: Coach Hopson Discusses Day 1
The first item I will hit on will be a few of the true freshmen that garnered early notice. It is hard not to notice #2 Keon Howard. Keon has a great deal of natural arm talent. He can really spin it. Howard has the arm strength to make any throw that is required of him. He is also very athletic in the pocket, with the ability to extend plays with his feet. For Keon it appears to just be a matter of becoming consistent with his footwork and the way he sets up. He sometimes sets up with his feet a little wide, causing the ball the sail on him a bit. It is just a matter of getting reps for him. I look forward to following his development during camp.
Related Story: Freshmen Looking To Make Their Mark
#35 Jacorey Morris 6-2 230 is as athletic as advertised. They started him out today at the outside linebacker position. He was very smooth with his drops into pass coverage, and very quick with change of direction coming back to the football. Physically he looks like a guy that has been on campus for a few years. He is presently behind Eli Parker and Sherrod Ruff. The question with Morris is how quickly he becomes comfortable with the scheme. There is absolutely zero question whether he is ready from a physical stand point. He is a true freshman to keep an eye on for playing time this season.
#33 T.J. McGinnis spent his first day at wide receiver. His speed and long frame make him a natural at that position. He is very athletic, but he has much to learn in regard to route running. The wide receiver position also appears presently to one of the deeper positions on the team. As he continues to develop I will have more news.
#41 Racheem Boothe showed some nice speed at the middle linebacker spot. He runs even better than what I saw on video. My only concern with Racheem is will he be ready for the physical rigors of the middle linebacker position at this level. Boothe is presently around 215 lbs. I will be following him closely to see how he holds up once the pads come on.
#66 Wyatt Richthofen was working at the center position this morning. That could be a natural fit for Wyatt as the staff has made early mention of his impressive football IQ and leadership ability. He could very well end up being a four year starter there after a redshirt season. At 6-4 310 lbs. he is a very impressive looking true freshman.
#72 Jacob Johnson is a huge human being at 6-4 320 lbs. Johnson was working at the right guard position today. I personally think he has a chance to push for playing time as a true freshman behind Devin Farrior. He physically looks like a kid that has been in the program for three years. He has the physical attributes in spades. I want to see if he has the tude to go along with his size when the pads come on.
#92 Lorenzo Dantler was running #3 at the Wolf position behind Yancey and Poole. #99 Jacques Turner was running #3 at the bandit end behind Thigpen and RJr Derrick Dixon. Both youngsters are athletic, but will not really be able to see what they can contribute until the pads come on. It is my hope that Turner puts the heat on Derrick Dixon, who redshirted last season.
All appears well at running back, as Ito looks ready to shoulder the load this season. He has put on a few quality pounds and is as quick and elusive as ever. George Payne looked as good as he has looked in almost two years. His knee is 100% and he is playing without the knee brace. He really seemed to be a quicker more agile athlete today. Tez Parks also looked good today running and catching the football out of the backfield. I had forgotten what a good receiver Tez is. Tez is wearing the knee brace, and I anticipate that he will wear it this season. The brace does not appear to inhibit his strait line speed, but I will be watching to see if he looks at all uncomfortable cutting.
On the offensive line, the battle will be on for the left tackle position between Jacob Fleming and Will Freeman. Will has changed his number to 69. Will appears to be every bit of 295 lbs. Drake Dorbeck really looked impressive after a full season under the tutelage of coach Woodfin. It will be interesting to see if Dorbeck can push Ty Pollard at the right tackle position. It was nice to see Sr. Oliver Bates back out on the field today. Bates is presently playing #2 left guard behind Brandon Farmer. Do not be surprised if Bates gives Brandon Farmer a run for his money for the starting job. Last season Bates pushed Devin Farrior hard at the right guard spot before going down for the season with a knee injury. On a side note, Wilie Swift who manned the #2 left guard spot this Spring is no longer with the team. This further opens up possible playing time for one of the talented true freshmen guards this season.
Enjoy part 1 of the practice news and notes. To find complete coverage and discussion of day one of camp, click HERE and join today!
Southern Miss continues its camp tomorrow morning..