OXFORD, Miss. – There’s an air of excitement in Oxford this weekend as the Ole Miss football team hits the practice fields for the start of the 2013 fall camp.
Hopes are high around Hugh Freeze’s program as the Rebels strapped on helmets and hit the practice fields adjacent to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for their second fall workout on Saturday morning.
Freeze and his staff hauled in one of the nation’s top recruiting classes in February and are getting their first chance to see those new freshmen line up against the returning players this weekend, as the August 29 season opener at Vanderbilt is less than a month away.
“Quincy (Adeboyejo) had another really good day,” said Freeze of the rookie receiver following Saturday’s two-plus hour practice. “(Robert) Nkemdiche, (Laremy) Tunsil, (Austin) Golson – guys you expect to get a lot of reps had a chance to stand out a lot more than others. The running backs – between Kailo (Moore), Jordan (Wilkins) and (Mark) Dodson – we’ve got some good ones.”
Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top-rated recruit out of high school last year, has immediately caught the eye of the coaches.
“He’s physically gifted enough to play, so it’s all about can he understand what we’re trying to accomplish, what his assignments are,” Freeze said. “If he can get that, there’s no question he can physically play. (The defensive coaches) better be trying to get him ready.”
The Rebels have not been immune to the injury bug, however, as several players are still recovering from existing ailments.
“The biggest concern is how these guys come back from all these injuries,” Freeze said. “It’s still a concern. C.J. (Johnson), Charles (Sawyer), Issac Gross – those guys we depend on to have a lot of snaps, and they’re not with us right now.”
Junior receiver Vince Sanders was unable to finish practice Saturday after an injury during one-on-one drills. Senior offensive lineman Pierce Burton was out with a lower back strain, which gave the team’s young new linemen a chance to run more snaps.
“It’s already started showing that we better develop some depth (at offensive line),” Freeze said.