We here at the Cup are pretty excited about Spring practice. There are a lot of interesting aspects to this team that will begin to play out this Spring. We'll be talking about several over the next few days (and probably Spring break). First, we're talking about the eligibility of Anthony Alford and Fadol Brown.
Alford was a 4* quarterback recruit in high school. Coming out of Petal in 2012, he was ranked as the #3 dual-threat quarterback in the country according to 247Sports.com. He had offers from all around the Southeast, including Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss. His high school coach was hired by Ellis Johnson at Southern Miss to become his quarterbacks coach. The 6'0" 215 lb. Alford shockingly followed him to USM and was immediately installed as the starter at quarterback as a true freshman.
It didn't go well for Alford, as he finished the season with 664 yards and just a 44.9 completion percentage. He did add six rushing touchdowns, but obviously he struggled there as the Golden Eagles went 0-12. Southern Miss fans heavily criticized Alford, causing him to transfer to Ole Miss, where he had wanted to go initially. He spent last season sitting out due to transfer rules and taking the role of scout-team quarterback as well as practicing at safety, the position he is likely to play.
Word out of practice is that Alford is too good to keep off the field. He excels in coverage but is also adequate in run support. He may actually be good enough to win a starting job. That determination will begin on Wednesday, when the Rebels first take to the practice field. Obviously, it's a long process, but it will be interesting to see Alford at safety. He was there last Spring as well, but he knew very little about the position. This will be his first Spring with an adequate understanding of the position.
Fadol Brown took a different route to Ole Miss. Coming out of high school in 2012, Brown was a 2-star defensive tackle and ranked as the #125 player at his position. Though he is 6'4" 275 lbs, his only offer was from Florida International University. As a freshman, he played in all twelve games for FIU but had only eight tackles on the season. In FIU's Spring game, Brown had four sacks an forced a fumble. A few weeks later, he announced he would transfer to a better program.
Miami, Tennessee, and Arkansas were among his offers, but Brown elected to join Robert Nkemdiche in enrolling at Ole Miss. While he was lightly recruited out of high school, it appears that Brown put enough good film out as a freshman at FIU that many other schools came calling.
Brown is likely to compete for a starting job opposite Robert Nkemdiche. If he can win the job, the defensive line could be much improved over last season. Brown has potential to be a disruptive force, particularly next to Nkemdiche. But as with Alford, we really won't know until we see more. That all starts Wednesday.