Rebels’ D-linemen put emphasis on improvement

By Parrish Alford
Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss defensive linemen aren’t likely to soon trade the “Forward Rebels” fight song for “Kumbaya,” but there is a lot of togetherness among the Rebels right now.
Transfer defensive end Fadol Brown says teammates are helping teammates, and the unit as a whole will be better because of it.
“The coaches are pretty hard on us about staying in the playbook and knowing your assignment. The next guy behind you is just as good. We kind of push each other. If I’m behind Marquise right now, I’m pushing him to stay in the playbook. I’m helping him with whatever he needs. CJ, (Johnson) helps me. Whenever I need help I can turn to him. We look at it like a family,” said Brown, who is indeed behind Marquise Haynes right now.
At the end of spring drills Brown, who sat out last season after playing at Florida International in 2012, was listed No. 1 at one end, ahead of senior Carlos Thompson, with Haynes, a true freshman behind veteran C.J. Johnson at the other end.
Haynes, though, has been getting the first-team reps while Brown has been out with a sprained ankle.
Monday, Brown was back.
“He finished the practice, which is good. He pushed through it,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. “He’s certainly not 100 percent. We’ll have to see the tape to see how he did.”
Bigger, quicker
While Freeze made it a point to add length and quickness to his defensive ends during recruiting – Haynes at 6-3, 220 is an example of that – Brown (6-4, 280) is the heaviest at the position.
Brown played sparingly as a freshman at FIU with eight tackles but really blossomed in the spring with four sacks and a fumble recovery in the Panthers’ scrimmage. Then he transferred.
“It’s a blessing to be able to play in the SEC,” he says. “That’s how I look at it.”
Brown set camp goals of becoming more technically sound and developing more pass-rush moves, things he couldn’t do from the sideline.
Tuesday he said his ankle felt fine until he tried to plant and change directions. Then he could feel the pain.
“That’s when it started bothering me, but I’m going to fight through,” he said.
Because of the unity at his group, he says he didn’t feel pressured to return too quickly.
“I try not to ever get complacent,” Brown said. “In the defensive line room, it gets pretty intense. Everybody has plus and minus, things they have to work on, but we’re going to be pretty good as a unit.”
parrish.alford@journalinc.com