Some highlights from Ole Miss Media Day …
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze continued his theme of dialing back expectations but did say the rebuilding process is a little ahead of schedule.
Freeze: “We will not identify an expectation other than to become more relevant in the SEC West.”
Health will be a big determining factor with that level of relevance.
Along those lines, CJ Johnson’s (leg) comeback looks good. He’s not full go right now but doesn’t appear to be far away.
Bo Wallace is on schedule too. It’s not about the shoulder any more. He’s come back all the way from off-season surgery OC and QB coach Dan Werner says. Now it’s about regaining strength and conditioning, and he says Wallace is getting there.
The biggest concern injury-wise right now is CB Charles Sawyer (shoulder, knee). Sawyer had surgery on his rotator cuff and meniscus in the off-season. He says he’ll be ready for contact by game-week if he doesn’t have a setback in his rehab. It’s not a given, though, that he’ll be playing against Vanderbilt.
That would be a big loss for a position that’s already very thin to begin with. They’ve been able to plan for the absence of Nick Brassell. You could see that coming on the horizon.
Part of that planning has included moving first Dehendret Collins and now juco transfer Quadarias Mireless to corner. There’s talk of moving freshman Kailo Moore over there too.
Could be that Collins, who played some corner last year, and Senquez Golson are your starting corners for Vanderbilt.
Here’s a Golson clip. He thinks they’ll be able to find quality depth at corner.
Transfer Anthony Alford has applied for a waiver from the NCAA which would allow him to compete immediately and not sit out a year. No word on that yet. If Alford can play that would be a big lift at safety.
Freshmen did not speak today. No big surprise there. They didn’t speak on this day last year. I thought this being a top 10 class might have changed things … at least a little.
Plenty of questions about the freshmen, though.
Denzel Nkemdiche talks about his goals and the upcoming season.
Dave Wommack had good things to say about the older Nkemdiche, but also said he’d like to see him play within the system more. Nkemdiche, second-team All-SEC a year ago, did a better job of that as the season moved a long.
D.T. Shackelford is listed as a senior but could get a year of eligibility back with a medical redshirt. Freeze said at the presser that Shackelford doesn’t quite look like the Shackelford of old. If he can regain that old form and give the Rebels 15 full-speed plays a game that would be a big lift.
He’s in grad school now and talks about the importance of soon having two degrees.
Emmanuel McCray is probably the best quote on the team. OL coach Matt Luke told me to expect some shuffling along the offensive line “because that’s what I do” but don’t expect to see McCray move away from left tackle.
McCray took Bo Wallace’s injury personally last year and wants to see to the well-being of his quarterback this season.