By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
More questions about offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, and his playing status, highlighted Hugh Freeze’s time on the weekly SEC Teleconference Wednesday morning.
The first four questions Freeze got on the call revolved around the status of Tunsil, who was held out of the UT-Martin opener last Saturday as a precaution by Ole Miss. Tunsil has been the subject of an ongoing NCAA investigation involving improper benefits.
Ole Miss has not commented on the matter any further than the statement released prior to the game with the Skyhawks. Freeze has been asked about Tunsil, saying Monday that he was not involved in the process as to when he plays, or if he plays. Tunsil has not officially been ruled out for the Fresno State game, but it seems more likely than not that he will miss his second straight contest.
“There is no update, it’s an ongoing process that I hopeful will wind up soon,” Freeze said when asked about Tunsil. “I try to just condition my mind and not worry about the possibilities of this week or next week. I trust in the people that are involved in the decision and I sure hope they get it right for the young man and our program. I try not think about what will happen this week or next with the kids that we have.”
Tunsil is still at practice, and getting reps. Sometimes those reps come with the second team, Freeze said. Freeze added that he has not talked with the NCAA in regards to Tunsil.
Defensive tackle Issac Gross was lost for the season with a neck injury. The news was made public Tuesday. The goal is for Gross to gain a fifth year with the help of a medical hardship. Freeze briefly talked about losing Gross, a former South Panola standout, during the call.
“We got hit with some bad news losing one of our best players and my heart goes out to him,” Freeze said. “We have some juggling to do to replace him for sure. We will miss in a game like this because of his pass rushing ability from the interior.”
Freeze was asked how long he had the pass play that went for a touchdown to Robert Nkemdiche in his hip pocket. His answer was “a couple weeks.” Freeze added that the goal was to get on film that Nkemdiche could do more than just block out of the formation.
“I think he proved that he was quite capable of making a play,” Freeze said. “I’m happy that it worked out that way, and that his mom was there. She hasn’t been able to be back in the States for a game since his freshman year, so it was a good day for her. He can run. If you want to put him in a 20 or 30-yard sprint, he’s pretty good. I don’t know how much he would be after that, but he sure did look daunting going down the sidelines.”