By Chris Burrows
OXFORD It may be only the second spring practice at Ole Miss for Tommy Tuberville and staff but some things never change.
“We’re basically rebuilding the team. Again. But that’s what spring practices are all about,” said Tuberville, whose club has its first outdoors practice Tuesday. “This time, we do have the advantage of knowing everybody.”
The Rebel coaches may know everybody, but they’ll see many of the returnees at new positions. As was Tuberville’s precedent last year, Ole Miss will take a look in the spring at experienced players at different positions.
“We believe in finding the best 22 players and getting them on the field for as many snaps as possible,” Tuberville said. “To do that, we’re going to look at some guys in new positions. Some of the changes will be permanent and some won’t.
“We’re need to look at different combinations and see what we can do to be a better club. I’d say we’re looking at 10, or so, position switches and we’ll probably keep half of them.”
Last spring, the major switches were Walker Jones (receiver to strong safety), Renard Brown (running back to defensive end) and David Evans (offensive guard to defensive tackle). Each of those changes proved successful enough to warrant starting assignments for the rest of the season.
This spring’s most prominent switches will involve defense again.
Eli Anding, a part-time starter at U-Back, will move to outside linebacker. The defensive end slots will be bolstered by the switch of defensive tackle Quentin Wilson and inside linebacker Bo Bennett.
Offensively, the big switch comes from Lawrence Adams, who moves to wide receiver. Adams was the starting quarterback in 1993 and became a starter at free safety in the latter part of last season. This marks his third position switch as a Rebel.
“Lawrence is a bright player with great hands. We want to take a look at him as a possession receiver,” Tuberville said. “Quentin and Bo are versatile enough athletically to help us at more than one position, so we want to see what they can do on the outside.
“As for Eli, it’s still experimental. But need to find a way to get him 50 snaps a game versus 10 or 15 snaps. He’s just too good an athlete and we want to see what he can do in a different spot.”
A handful of junior college transfers are on campus, but are not listed on the depth chart and Tuberville didn’t speculate on players he had not seen on the practice field.
Paul Head, who had thumb surgery after a sledding accident in the winter, will start at quarterback. Head had the cast removed last month and Tuberville said, “he’s fine. Paul is a little behind in conditioning, but he can throw. We don’t anticipate any problems.”