By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt welcomed a class of newcomers Tuesday he believes can do great things for the Rebels.
Twenty-five players – a mix of signees, walk-ons and junior college transfers – came under Nutt’s watch on “report day.” Most have been on campus most of the summer.
“We ask them all to get here by May 27, and that’s hard to do,” Nutt said. “For them to get here for that first (summer) session and work out with coach (Don) Decker sends a huge message. They know we’re counting on them.”
Several names were missing from the report list.
Loganville, Ga., defensive back Denzel Nkemdiche and Birmingham, Ala., defensive lineman Kameron Wood were absent.
Nkemdiche has an academics issue. Nutt didn’t discuss it much except to say that he expects to have Nkemdiche soon. Wood has a shoulder issue and could be a January enrollee.
Taylorsville linebacker Marcus Mayers will attend Jones Junior College; Itawamba AHS quarterback Maikhail Miller will also be a mid-year enrollee.
“This is a very important class,” Nutt said. “This is an exciting group, and it sends a message about the kind of recruiting year we had. If they stay here together the next four or five years, this could be the group that makes this place special … real special.”
The report group included two junior college transfers who were unable to make it in time for spring drills.
Defensive back Aaron Garbutt and defensive tackle Uriah Grant missed an opportunity to get a head start back then, but they’ll be expected to provide depth and compete for jobs.
Depth is an issue at a number of spots.
“Linebacker is real thin, and the secondary, receivers, and again, you can’t ever get enough linemen,” Nutt said.
Nutt praised Garbutt for arriving in good condition and said he could help out at cornerback or safety.
He called freshman Senquez Golson “the most mature freshman cornerback I’ve seen in a long time.”
Nutt will resist the temptation, he says, of putting speedy freshman Nick Brassell in the secondary. An all-American at South Panola, Brassell will start out primarily as a wide receiver but will also be used in defensive packages.
Nutt singled out Brassell, Tobias Singleton and Donte Moncrief for the speed they bring to the receiver position. As much as speed, receivers coach Gunter Brewer needed bodies.
“Gunter’s numbers got a lot larger, and we really needed that,” Nutt said. “That will make the (receivers) room a lot better, and from what I hear, the (returning) receivers felt that this summer.”