I'll go ahead and apologize at the start for a short report today. I only stayed at practice for a brief period of time before heading over to the South End Zone Club for tonight's revolutionary capital campaign announcement. If you haven't heard about this, make sure to visit the above link and see how awesome our future athletics facilities can be. I will say this, I loved the presentation (thank you Micah Ginn, Michael Thompson, Danny White, and yes, even Pete Boone), but what stood out above it all was the short speech that our Chancellor Dan Jones delivered. I had the privilege of sitting in the 2nd row for tonight's presentation, but looking in his eyes and hearing his voice, I felt a great deal leadership coming from him tonight. He stood up for the Ole Miss that we all love and laid it on the line. He knows that we need to get better, we need to aim to be the best, and we need to do it together. He definitely knows that this type of future is possible at Ole MIss. He basically said get on board or get out of the way. It was great. Now on to some football notes...
First, let's talk about the players that were not dressed out fully. I noticed immediately H.R. Greer in a walking boot, and for even better news, his backup E.J. Epperson not in pads. That meant that today's first team fullback was Redshirt Freshman Earnest Harmon. Kentrell Lockett also was not in pads (though I'm sure he was simply taking a day off after leaving practice early yesterday due to a sore patellar tendon). D.T. Shackleford, of course was not in pads either, though he has done some stretching with the first team throughout the week. He clearly is not going to avoid being around the team during his recovery. The guy just loves football too much to waste his time on the sidelines of a practice.
There was a great moment during stretching where one of the coaches started yelling "Get fired up! Get fired up!" and the entire defense responded with "HEY!" This repeated a second time, to which Terrell Grant yelled out "Shut that up! Shut that up!" and a few offensive players chimed in with "HEY!" The chants continued from the defense, which is clearly a more spirited and vocal group than last year's squad.
A few interesting notes on the different stretching positions. Today the Wide Receivers stretching with the 1st team Offense were Ja-Mes Logan, Vincent Sanders, and Derrick Herman. As mentioned earlier, Earnest Harmon was also with the first team, though the rest of the members were the same. On defense, the first team defensive line was a little shaken up, with Gerald Rivers joining Jason Jones, Uriah Grant, and a bumped up Justin Smith up front. The rest of the first team defense stayed the same from yesterday.
The second offense included Terrell Grant, Melvin Harris, Philander Moore, Enrique Davis, Justin Bigham (Fullback), Randall Mackey, and surprisingly, Layton Jones ahead of a third team Jamal Mosley. Also on the third team offense were Nick Brassell, Donte Moncrief, Collins Moore, and Devin Thomas. Jeff Scott stretched in the very back of the offense. I have no clue if this was an indictment for some punishment or simply a normal occurrence. It's the first I've noticed it.
Second team defense: Carlos Thompson, Gilbert Pena, Carlton Martin, Wayne Dorsey, Ralph Williams, Rudy Wilson, Denzel Nkemdiche, Wesley Pendleton, Aaron Garbutt, and Cody Prewitt. Interestingly, Bryon Bennett has now slipped to stretching with the 4th team.
I watched Justin Bell for a few minutes today. I think he has a nice future, but it will definitely be in a guard/center role. He's much shorter than most of our linemen and has a very wide bottom. He doesn't look like an offensive tackle.
Houston was very intensely watching the placekickers taking extra points. It appears that they made all of their attempts (very few were taken).
Finally, the last few things I saw were some strictly offensive drills working on specific plays. A few of these plays included Brandon Bolden either sweeping to the left, throwing back to the quarterback, or throwing deep across the field to a (hopefully)wide open receiver. There was also a flea-flicker thrown in and a few straight drop back passes. One significant play had a beautiful deep ball thrown from Randall Mackey and Vincent Sanders letting it drop off of his chest. It was right around this time that I left for the Capital Campaign announcement, so I guess I missed the bulk of the action. Hopefully I'll do better tomorrow, but thanks again for reading and make sure you go check out the campaign website....it's well worth it.
[ED: EtOH, thanks for the help yet again. We totally understand why you wouldn't miss the release of the renderings of the future basketball arena and north end zone expansion. If anyone else stuck around and has some practice notes of their own to share, please take advantage in the comments thread.]