By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Sophomore Bradley Sowell, believed to be the leading candidate to replace All-American Michael Oher at left offensive tackle, finds himself in a battle as spring football drills continue at Ole Miss.
The Rebels were back on the practice fields in full gear Wednesday, and Sowell, a 6-foot-7, 310-pounder from Hernando, was running with the second team more than the first team.
Part of that was due to a slight ankle sprain sustained in Monday’s work, and that injury gave the coaching staff an opportunity to check an area in which they want to see improvement from Sowell – toughness.
“We all had that antennae up today to see if he would push through practice after taking a good hit on that ankle,” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. “I think he’ll be fine. We appreciate his toughness today.”
Depth on the offensive line is one of the main areas the staff wants to address this spring. In addition to Oher, the Rebels lost starting guards Darryl Harris and Maurice Miller from last year’s 9-4 team.
In developing depth, coaches are looking for versatility among their first-line players. One of those is senior Reid Neely, who is listed as the starter at right guard on the depth chart. On Wednesday, he was running first-team left tackle. Nutt said if he had to play a game right now that’s where Neely would start.
“I think it’s all technique that I need to work on,” Sowell said. “I can hit good, but I have to keep my hands in. Little things like that can make me more physical. Since I’m tall, defensive linemen tend to get under me a little bit.”
“Bottom line, it’s about toughness. If that’s you and you think that’s your spot, hopefully something will come out of you where you’re going to go out and fight a little harder, do a little bit more to be the guy,” offensive line coach Mike Markuson said. “Spring is about experimentation, and we’re going to make sure we get the best five out there.”
Powe still impressing
n Junior defensive tackle Jerrell Powe is listed at second-team nose tackle but took some snaps with the first team. Nutt had good things to say about Powe following Monday’s workout, the first in full pads. Powe followed that up with another good day of work, frequently finding his way into the backfield in the scrimmage work and middle contact drills.
Powe has lost 21 pounds since the Cotton Bowl and is down to 330 pounds, “or 329 on a good day,” he says. He hopes to be down to 315 by the start of August camp.
Backup QBs get snaps
n Starting quarterback Jevan Snead left practice early to handle some classroom responsibilities.
That gave more reps to backups Billy Tapp, a senior, and Nathan Stanley, a redshirt freshman.
Stanley was a head-turner with his touch on the deep ball as a true freshman scout team QB last year. He had mixed results Wednesday, throwing a nice 50-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Andrew Harris, but throwing an end zone interception on the last play of practice.
n Parrish Alford blogs about Ole Miss sports at nems360.com/pages/ insideolemisssports.