Former Alabama linebacker Rich Wingo, who played with Green Bay in the NFL, was a dynamic presence as the keynote speaker, challenging players and others attending to be leaders and to give their best effort each day.
Ole Miss linebacker Joel Kight shared his testimony.
“I was more nervous around all these people than I was before a regular game,” said Kight, a senior from Lithonia, Ga, “but it’s always and honor to get to talk about God and to talk about your faith.”
Kight says when players share their faith with one another it helps bring the team closer together.
He told a crowded ballroom about his personal journey and a middle school coach who impacted him along the way.
Freeze’s faith is visible through his messages on Twitter. He says sharing his faith with his team and others is about a lifestyle.
“I’m not a preachy guy to people. I’ll be the first to say I’m the greatest struggler of them all, but I know where my forgiveness lies. I hope it’s just through the lifestyle and the way they see me interact with them through difficult times,” Freeze said.
“They may see that this guy has great joy and ask, ‘Where does that joy come from?’ I hope my sharing is more of a lifestyle than just me saying something.”
Gaining experience Ole Miss lists seven true or redshirt freshmen and two first-year junior college transfers on its defensive two-deep roster.
That’s been by necessity more than design.
“I wish we were in a position where we could have redshirted some of those guys and held them off, but we’re not, and we probably won’t be next year either,” defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said.
That aside, Wommack is also excited by the experience his guys have gotten this season. Wommack and the defensive coaches are looking forward to spring drills and an off-season in which they’re not teaching from Square One.
“I think we can go faster. We were talking about that as a defensive staff the other day. It will be nice going in and everything is A, B, C. They will know what you’re talking about. In the off-season when they’re doing their pass scales they’re going to know what you want,” Wommack said.
“Over the years, the teams you see that have continuity with their coaching staffs and their programs are the teams that are successful.”
Freeze doesn’t believe the long layoff between games – 42 days – and even being careful with Bo Wallace in practice will make a noticeable difference in how Wallace’s shoulder feels when the BBVA Compass Bowl kicks off at noon Saturday.
Wallace has played through the pain of a shoulder injury sustained Sept. 22 at Tulane.
“I think it’s about the same. I think you’ll see the same guy you saw against State. He’s not 100 percent, but he’s battled through 10 games,” Freeze said. “He’s a great competitor, and he’ll get ready. The training staff does a great job of strengthening it throughout the week. Hopefully he’ll have a solid game.”