Hugh Freeze came very close to declaring cornerback Tee Shepard out for the season.
The injury is to the tendon under the big toe on his left foot. It’s torn, not just stretched. It’s possible Shepard could play and have surgery after the season, but there is the risk of tearing the tendon more, scar tissue developing around it and long-term healing become more problematic.
“The fear of trying to cast it and then get him ready to play, the scar tissue that would be formed, I’m going to have to lean on the docs and Pat on this one,” Freeze said.
Shepard, a five-star recruit according to Scout.com and a former Notre Dame signee, currently has three years of eligiblity remaining. He has used his redshirt year, but there’s the chance that a year of eligibility could be regained down the road.
He was expected to make an impact at corner.
How it impacts depth at Huskie: Freeze didn’t seem to think that Shepard’s injury would make Mike Hilton a cornerback exclusively. The plan is still Hilton to play both corner and Huskie, which I take as an indication that Derrick Jones is making solid progress at corner.
A rotation of three cornerbacks would likely include Senquez Golson, Jones and Hilton.
Tony Conner remains the starter at Huskie. Hilton was running some second team to replace Chief Brown who had an Achilles injury in June.
The next guy up at Huskie would be freshman A.J. Moore, who appears to be a little farther along than freshman D.K. Bufored. The preference would be to redshirt both, Freeze said.
Gross returns: Defensive lineman Issac Gross has been out a while, but he’s good to go for now.
“He’s fine. He was back at practice yesterday, and seemed to be his old self. He just had a little neck strain. He looked good yesterday at practice,” Freeze said.
Scrimmage tonight: The Rebels went through a walk-through this morning. It was completely open to media probably because there was very little to see. A lot of guys in red shirts walking through plays.
There’s a scrimmage tonight before an SEC officiating crew. Quarterback Bo Wallace is expected to get very few reps with almost all the attention going to redshirt freshmen Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade who are battling for the No. 1 backup spot. Some other more established players are expected to get only a few reps tonight.
OL shuffle continues: Freeze says he’s close to settling some positions on the offensive line. Still looks like Fahn Cooper at right tackle. Robert Conyers is running second at both center and tackle. That keeps Ben Still as the leader at center, though a starter has not been named. Redshirt freshman Daronte Bouldin has been moved to tackle, and freshman Rod Taylor has moved back inside to guard.
Moving on to Boise State: Freeze said he will likely begin showing his team Boise State looks in practice on Sunday though he may introduce a little bit as early as Friday night. “Sunday we’ll flip the script,” he said. The Rebels and Boise open the season Aug. 28 in Atlanta.