This is a random order. Here’s reason No. 13 the Rebels will be improved in 2011.
Ole Miss was third in the SEC in punt returns last year but just eighth in kick returns. Both units could use a boost, and it looks like help has arrived.
Jesse Grandy averaged 14.7 yards on punt returns a year ago, 10th in the NCAA. Grandy, no longer in the program, was best when he built momentum, not a lot of shiftiness there.
He averaged 20.9 yards on kick returns, but Jeff Scott, a freshman last year, averaged 27.7 yards, third in the SEC.
The numbers weren’t terrible but can be better.
Earlier this week the Rebels were working Korvic Neat, Scott, Philander Moore and Nick Brassell on punt returns.
A third-year sophomore, Neat (5-8, 165) signed as a running back and was moved to receiver. He returned two kicks last year, one for 25 yards, the other for 16. He was never deep on punts in a game. He brings speed, as his size suggests.
The hang time and the loneliness for the returner make punt returns a trickier proposition than kick returns.
Moore was extremely successful at both, earning All-America honors as a return man at Blinn (Texas) Community College last year. Moore totaled 811 yards on kick and punt returns and scored six touchdowns.
The fastest of the four is Brassell, and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt has indicated that Brassell will be used in some role on special teams. It probably won’t be as long snapper.
A good return game is as much about vision and intuition as it is speed.