All the Media Day news that's fit to print - or blog about. Camp begins tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. ...
In the spring defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said he felt like he had “five or six” SEC players.
That being the case, can you build SEC players and create depth between April and September – or does adding an SEC player to your roster have to be done through recruiting alone.
Recruiting is important, but Wommack says you can build depth.
“Some attitude and work ethic has changed with some guys. I'm anxious like everybody else to see them out on the field, see where our strengths are, where our deficiencies are, and patch up some holes. I don't think there's any doubt it will be better than it was in the spring.
“I don't think our talent's where it needs to be, obviously, and I think everybody knows that around here. I think you can increase the number (of SEC-ready players). Can we get to the level that some teams are at? Probably not.”
Wommack used Nick Saban's first year at Alabama as an example. “That was a real struggle. Northeast Louisiana or somebody upset them.”
Glad to see him go with the name of my alma mater and not the name to which it changed.
Wommack believes the strength of his 4-2-5 defense will be with its interior linemen.
“Our tackles and nose are going to have to be the foundation. I think we're below average overall at defensive end. Our linebackers … We've tried to move safety-type guys to linebacker to put more speed on the field. We'll have the ability to go big and go 4-3 with some bigger-type linebackers. We're going to have to utilize personnel more carefully than you would in a normal season.”
Speaking of those interior guys, senior tackle Uriah Grant, coming off shoulder surgery, will miss the first couple of weeks of drills, Hugh Freeze said.
More news from the Freeze time at the podium:
Tight end Jamal Mosely, suspended indefinitely last week after his summer arrest came to light, appears to be working his way back into good standing.
Freeze said Mosely was given four tasks to accomplish, and he's accomplished two of them. Freeze said in the time that his staff has been in place, Mosely's decision-make process has shown “significant improvement.”
He stopped short of guaranteeing a spot on the team for Mosely. “As he continues to hopefully progress and show himself to be accountable, we will reevaluate that (his situation).”
Randall Mackey has been moved to running back. He was moved from quarterback to wide receiver in the spring. I figured he would play at running back some. Now it looks like he will play there a lot, and it's a good move. It would be a big gamble to go into the season as thin at running back as the Rebels were about to be. I suspect you'll see Devin Thomas on the field, because he's a fifth-year senior, and pass protection is an important part of the game for the backs. Nick Parker? There's an opportunity out there if the slimmed-down former South Panola star can emerge into a dependable guy who can bang between the tackles. Look for freshmen I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton to get early looks too.
Freeze seems to really be warming up to playing two quarterbacks. “I do not anticipate that (race) clearing up until after a couple of games. I'm glad we have both. We will need both.”
It had been hoped that linebacker D.T. Shackelford would make enough progress from his February surgery – the second on the ACL he tore in April of 2011 – to be ready to play this year. He has not. The decision has been made that Shackelford will sit out 2012 and will come back in the spring of 2013 as a junior in eligibility.
Shackelford will still be around the team. Coaches like his encouraging attitude that much.
A couple of position moves of note: Fullback E.J. Epperson to defensive end and freshman DE John Youngblood to tight end.
I pitched the SEC losing streak question to a number of players. It was an easy, step into and take your best softball swing. I didn't expect anyone to say that did not expect the SEC streak to be broken this season – and almost not one did. The exception was Barry Brunetti, who looked me in the eye and answered, “no,” he did not expect to streak to be broken this year. Then he listened to the question again and with a look of horror on his face changed his answered and said, emphatically, that he does expect the Rebels to break their SEC losing streak, which is currently at 14 games.