On the transition as new hitting coach:
The transition has been really good. The coaching staff has made it a lot easier on me than what it could be. It's definitely been a whirlwind.
On what he knew about Ole Miss before taking the job:
I definitely had a lot of respect from afar for Coach Bianco and his program. I knew more than I thought I would because Ben Fleming, the strength and conditioning coach, was with me at Kansas State and we overlapped by a year for the 2013 season, and I kept in touch with him, so it was nice to know him through the process. Mike Bianco's work speaks for itself with 14 years and what he's done, continuing to build and getting to Omaha last year. I got to see them play quite a few times. They were a lot of fun to watch and played with a blue-collar mentality and a chip on their shoulder, and that's something I want to be a part of.
On what he looks to add and what he brings from his previous coaching experience:
It's a good fit because I pride myself on the mentality part of coaching. I want a bunch of guys who are going to blue collar and play with a chip on their shoulder, really play the game and outwork their opponent. I pride myself on that as a coach, and I hope our offense is going to pride themselves on that as well. I bring that dynamic to the staff. We have a bunch of good players and a bunch of good recruits, and I feel really good about where the program is right now.
On the reception on the road from fans and recruits:
Things are different when you put the script "Ole Miss" across your chest. That's no disrespect to Kansas State. I was in Atlanta last week recruiting, and I had to call back to the office and ask Andrew Case, our director of operations, what Hotty Toddy meant because I got six or eight Hotty Toddy's the first day I had the shirt on. To be honest, I wasn't sure what they were saying, if they cursing at me, or they were happy, or what they were, so I had to get an education on that. The response has been unbelievable. It's been overwhelmingly positive. People have been very supportive around town for the little bit that I have been here. It's really exciting to get going. It's going to be a great experience for my wife and I.
On summer workouts and talking to current players about the upcoming season:
I have talked to them quite a bit. I have been able to reach out to quite a few of our position players, especially the older guys. The coaching staff and the returning players are really excited about hopefully taking that next step. We want to be the last team standing in Omaha, not one of the last four teams. That's our goal, and that's the goal for a lot of teams, especially in this league. It's a dogfight, and you can't get to that goal without doing your job in the summer and fall. It's an exciting time, and the confidence is at an all-time high, probably, for his program, and that can be attributed to last year's team.
On what's needed to take Ole Miss to the next level:
We're on the right track. We're in a very good spot. It goes back to recruiting and getting the most talented players that you can find. But more so than the talent part of it, the best teams are the teams who can match the talent part of it with guys who are willing to give up a little something of themselves for something greater. That's why it was fun to watch Ole Miss baseball from afar because you could tell it was team and those guys loved playing with one another. If we can keep on that track, the sky is the limit, not only for this team this year, but the program and the future.
On being a former catcher on staff with two other former catchers in Mike Bianco and Carl Lafferty:
When you're a catcher, you're at the only position on the field, where everyone is looking to you. That's important. You're supposed to be a leader. I was not an elite baseball player. I was a pretty average player, and that's OK. One of the good things about that was I had to work pretty hard for everything I got and that helped me in my coaching career. They would say the same thing about being a former catcher. If you look around at the managers in the major leagues and minor leagues, there are a lot of former catchers because of the responsibility placed on that position.
On his younger brother, Jeff, and what he has learned from him and his major league baseball experience:
He's my best friend and we talk a couple of times a week. He had a whole different experience than what I did as an average player. He saw the other end of the spectrum. We talk often and he has a perspective of the Stephen Head's and Seth Smith's of the world, those types of people. He had an unbelievable college career, and he was an All-American and a high draft pick, and he was fortunate and blessed enough to play in the big leagues for parts of four seasons. He provides some valuable advice from his experience, but more than anything, he's really excited that I have this opportunity.
On his relationship and previous work experience with Ben Fleming:
It's important for me in the transition because I can bounce a lot off of him. The one year we worked together, we had a pretty special year at Kansas State and made it to the Super Regional and had the best year in school history. I trust his opinion. He's relentless in the way he works with kids. Coach Bianco really values him and what he does. It's good to have some familiarity with someone in this program getting here. I can't help but have a good relationship with Carl Lafferty. It didn't take long to build that because we were the two guys out on the road and recruiting.
On recruiting and how Carl Lafferty has helped in the transition:
It's a tough transition when you go from one part of the country to another part of the country and trying to land on your feet and hit the ground running. What's made it an easy transition is Carl. He's very gifted on the road. He has an unbelievable ability to know players and know everything about them. He knows who they are, who they play for, and where they're from. When you have someone as gifted as Carl is from a recruiting standpoint, it makes the transition a lot easier, that's for sure.
On the plan for the rest of the summer and preparation for fall practice:
The important thing, as we move forward before school starts, is to build relationships with players. That's what I believe most of coaching is. If I can start to build relationships and get these guys to trust me and what I'm all about and help them understand that I'm willing to work with them, everything will take off from there. I'm confident that will happen. Outside of recruiting, which is the life blood of the program, I want to build relationships with our current players and hit the ground running once school starts in late August.
On what fans should expect from the offense:
We want be aggressive in a lot of different ways. It can be driving the ball out of the yard, driving the ball in the gaps and stealing bases. I want to be really sound in every aspect of our offense, whether that's the ability to hit and run, steal bases and get down bunts. We want to hit the ball in the gaps because if you can do that, balls will go out of the yard and you will be able to do some things offensively. We're going to be uptempo and really aggressive and take the fight to the other team from the offensive side of things.
On the new ball and how it changes the game:
I don't know if it will change my philosophy as a hitting coach, but it will change the game. I trust what the NCAA is doing and there needed to be a change. I think the new ball is going to make a difference. Hopefully, in our ballpark, it makes the difference with a lot more beer showers for our team.
Here are more of Coach Freeze's interviews in Bristol. Scroll down to the earlier post to hear him on Ivan Maisel's podcast.
Watch: Freeze on CFB Live
Watch: Freeze on the Paul Finebaum Show
Listen: Freeze on the Freddie Coleman Show
Listen: Freeze on SVP & Russillo
Photo Gallery: Hugh Freeze At 2014 ESPN SEC Car Wash
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze sat down with ESPN's Ivan Maisel for his podcast to discuss the upcoming season. Here are a few highlights from Freeze:
On Robert Nkemdiche at defensive tackle:
Robert stays about the same. He's at about 295 pounds. He fluctuates from 295-305 pounds. I have never seen a 295-pound man built like him. He has a six pack at 295 pounds. He's a special athlete, and we're excited. That's where he belongs long-term for his NFL career, if he stays healthy. We think he can be dominant inside. We will go to some 3-4 stuff, too, where he moves out some, but he will primarily be an inside guy.
More on Robert Nkemdiche:
Throughout the recruiting process, we always thought he would move inside. In the bowl game, he played inside the whole game and had his best game of the year by far. He was so active and disruptive against Georgia Tech in the bowl game.
On Laquon Treadwell and his ability and willingness to block:
It's very unusual in a young player. There are not many high school receivers who come in with the mentality that blocking is very important to them. Coaches will always tell them that, but for the kid to grasp that it's an important role for them on the team is not the norm. We could make a cut-up reel right now of his blocking last year that is absolutely way beyond a freshman in maturity. He will inspire those other receivers to block also. He enjoy it. He loves it. He gets a kick out of it. And he has gained some weight. He has gained another 10-15 pounds and will definitely be a great blocker for us.
More on Treadwell:
He's now moved back outside. He will play the outside guy where Donte (Moncrief) was last year. He should see more explosive plays. He had some, but in our stuff, he probably didn't get asked to do that a lot last year, but he will this year.
On cyclical world of college football and lack of star quality in the Southeastern Conference:
I don't (think the SEC takes a step back). If you just look at the way all of us have recruited, if the recruiting services are close to being right, there are a lot of players who are going to be on the field who we don't know about. Right now, there's not the star power that there has been the last couple of year, but it will be back very soon.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoop and Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze discuss the state of the SEC on College Football Live. Here a few highlights from Freeze:
"We're a unique staff that has a core values that attracts a certain type of kid. We had the early opportunity to play for us because of what we inherited when we got there. Kids are drawn to that. And if you ever get a kid on our campus, we have a chance. It's one of the most beautiful places in the world, and our facilities have been upgraded to be top notch. They see the passion and love we have for what we do there. Hopefully, it transcended into helping them become the type of men they need to be in life."
"I'm determined that I won't let pressure definite how we go about doing things. I do know that we're good enough now to be relevant in the SEC West. What that means in the win-loss column, I have no idea, because no one is backing up, but we closed the gap to where we should in the factors of who wins this league."
All 14 Southeastern Conference football coaches will travel to ESPN's
annual mid-summer football coaches "car wash" - in which guests appear
across multiple programs and platforms over one day - at ESPN's Bristol,
Conn., headquarters on Monday and Tuesday. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze is part of Monday's group.
The schedules for the coaches will include a mixture of
interviews with more than 25 different shows and writers across ESPN's
television, radio and digital media platforms. Below is Freeze's tentative itinerary for Monday (Times Central). Most of the interviews are taped, so I'll tweet during the trip when we know airtimes.
9:00 AM SEC Network TalkbacksFollow me on twitter @CampbellKyle.
9:15 AM College Gameday / SEC Thematic Shoot
9:40 AM Freddie Coleman Radio
9:50 AM College Gameday Radio
10:00 AM SVP & Russillo
10:10 AM ESPNU podcast
10:22 AM ESPN Films
10:40 AM Roundtable
11:20 AM SEC Film Room
11:40 AM Digital Media
12:00 PM ESPN Images
12:15 PM ESPN.com Reporter
12:40 PM CFB Live
1:40 PM SportsCenter (Tape)
1:50 PM Travis Haney
Ole Miss took its turn at the annual SEC Media Days on Thursday. Joining head coach Hugh Freeze was senior quarterback Bo Wallace, junior defensive end C.J. Johnson and senior safety Cody Prewitt. Here are a few related SEC Media Days links to videos and stories:
Freeze explains common factor in SEC turnarounds, writes Chris Vannini of Coaching Search
Great expectations: Improved depth could lead to big things for Rebels, writes Parrish Alford of the Daily Journal
Ole Miss football wants to prove it's a big ticket for Atlanta and beyond, writes Steven Godfrey of SB Nation
AUDIO: Ole Miss HC Hugh Freeze talks about getting back into football mode on SiriusXM Nation
Slighted QB Wallace ready to lead Mississippi, writes David Brandt of the Associated Press
On his shoulders: Wallace 100 percent fit and ready to lead Rebels, writes Parrish Alford of the Daily Journal
Bo Wallace just wants one healthy season, writes Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger
Bo Wallace using snub for extra motivation, writes Ross Dellenger of The Advocate
Tough talk, big dreams for Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace in senior season, writes Geoff Calkins of the Commercial Appeal
Last shot for Bo Wallace to spurn doubters, get Ole Miss to new heights, writes Zac Ellis of Sports Illustrated
AUDIO: Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace talks about the QB battles in the SEC on SiriusXM College Sports Nation
VIDEO: Bo Wallace aims to be the SEC's top QB, reports Courtney Cronin of the Clarion-Ledger
C.J. Johnson is back, can make the Ole Miss D better, writes Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger
Ole Miss All-American safety Cody Prewitt still toils in obscurity, writes Gary Laney of AL.com
Denzel Nkemdiche back with Ole Miss Rebels after spring ban, writes Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com
Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell in same class as Alabama's Amari Cooper, writes Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com
More from SEC Sports: 2014 SEC Media Days Wrap-Up
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said on day one that his expectations were to make the program relevant in the Southeastern Conference Western Division.
With a full allotment of 85 scholarship players and more depth of both sides of the ball, Freeze said, Ole Miss should be just that and competitive in every single game this season.
"Obviously I can't control the health of players, injuries, turnovers, how your quarterback plays," Freeze said. "All of those factors will kind of determining the ending result of wins and losses. But there's no question in my mind we're a better football team today than we were in year one and year two and we should be very competitive."
The players also feel those expectations coming off back-to-back bowl wins in each of the last two seasons, as the Rebels enter year three of the Hugh Freeze Era.
"The basketball team has been able to do it," senior quarterback Bo Wallace said. "The baseball team has been able to do it. Our fans are hungry for our football team to go to Atlanta. We feel those expectations and we're working hard every day."
In addition to upperclassmen such as Wallace and senior safety Cody Prewitt, a first team All-American last season, last year's freshman class will have a huge role in defining how successful Ole Miss will be this season.
"I certainly hope that another year in the offseason program with Paul Jackson and being a college student-athlete, that the grind of what we ask them to go through is more common to them so that they are better equipped and better prepared to go through the grind of the season that we're going to ask them to go through," Freeze said.
"The guys last year, their biggest setback was the mental side of the game," Prewitt said. "They are extremely athletic. They wouldn't be here if they weren't. Last year, they made a lot of mistakes. The biggest difference I saw in the spring was a lot of those mistakes weren't there anymore. They really progressed mentally. That's what's going to make that class special and help the team."
Freeze Excited For Season Opener In Georgia Dome
Ole Miss will open the 2014 season against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Thursday, Aug. 28. The game, which will start the 2014 college football season, will kick off at 7 p.m. CT and be televised by ESPN.
"We get to open college football," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "All eyes will be on you on that Thursday night against a very good Boise program.
"So we're excited and hopefully embrace that opportunity and the magnitude it will have on expanding our brand nationally. You certainly know that could help. Hopefully we get a chance to embrace that opportunity and make the most of it."
Another Chip On Wallace's Shoulder
Dating back to his high school days at Giles County in Pulaski, Tennessee, senior quarterback Bo Wallace has always played with a chip on his shoulder.
Add another chip on Wallace's shoulder, as the three-year starter and the SEC's leading returner in total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns was voted third team All-SEC by league media, behind Auburn's Nick Marshall and Mississippi State's Dak Prescott.
"I have always had a chip on my shoulder," Wallace said. "I have always felt like I could play at this level. This is a familiar position for me. In high school, people were saying, 'You can't play in college.' In junior college, people were saying, 'You can't play in the SEC.' I have been able to put up numbers. I'm familiar with this place and I enjoy it."
Backup Quarterback Battle Continues
Behind Wallace, the battle for the backup quarterback position continues between redshirt freshmen Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade. Head coach Hugh Freeze has been pleased with both options, and if the season started today, it would depend upon the situation.
"They both bring a little different skill set to us," Freeze said. "The good thing is they both have used their redshirt year, so I'm not afraid to throw them in for a series here or a series there to see exactly what they do."
"The big thing with DeVante is he has all the talent in the world," Wallace said. "He needs to not create as many negative plays. Ryan knows the offense and his arm has gotten a lot stronger this offseason. It's going to be a really good battle in the offseason."
Freeze also mentioned junior college transfer Jeremy Liggins and Southern Miss transfer Anthony Alford, who figures in the mix at safety, as wildcards who could possibly add to the quarterback position. Freeze had particular high praise for Liggins, who might end up contributing at any number of positions.
"He's done absolutely phenomenal work," Freeze said. "I couldn't be happier with Jeremy Liggins. He looks like a million bucks. He's running around. He's down to about 280 pounds. I don't know where I'm going to play him, but he's going to help us."
Prewitt Looks To Improve On All-American Junior Season
A first team All-American this past season, senior safety Cody Prewitt was one of three Rebels voted first team All-SEC by league media, along with sophomore defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and sophomore offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.
Prewitt led the SEC and tied for seventh nationally with six interceptions. He also ranked second on the team with 71 tackles and first with 13 passes defended. Entering his senior season, he remains focused on all-around improvements and not to get complacent.
"I missed a couple of balls I shouldn't have missed last year," Prewitt said. "I missed a couple of tackles I should have made last year. I made a couple of mental mistakes I shouldn't have made last year. It's the little things you can do to improve."
At 6-foot-2, 217 pounds, Prewitt has been labeled a physical player and a big hitter, and while he didn't shy away from that reputation, it's more about making plays and making a difference on the defensive side of the ball.
"I like to hit people," Prewitt said. "My style is to be aggressive. Whatever I can do to be aggressive. Anything I can do to start shift momentum for my team. Whether that's a big hit or an interception, if I can get my team pumped up, focussed and back into the game, that's what I want to do."
Once overshadowed, Wallace now finds himself more firmly in the spotlight after the departure of seven of the league's eight top passers. The dean of SEC quarterbacks, Wallace is the league's leading returner in total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns.
"Every quarterback is going to take that as a challenge," Wallace said. "The quarterbacks are not any less talented than the ones that just left. Every quarterback will take that as a challenge to go out there, put a lot of numbers up and win games for their team."
"He's matured quite nicely in the way he leads our team and the way he goes about our business. He feels finally healthy and confident. I really think he's at a point where he certainly has every avenue right now to step in and be one of the guys in this conference."
More than a year removed from clavicle surgery in January 2013, Wallace is as healthy and confident as his head coach and teammates can remember.
Wallace credits offseason workouts with mechanics guru Tom House for helping him regain his velocity, which he said fell off toward the end of last season. He also described the workouts as one of the best decisions he's made.
"We have talked about it and watched videos together," Freeze said. "Everything is giving him confidence. We're excited. Hopefully, the arm strength that he has right now will be sustained throughout the year because of a full offseason of rehab work and strengthening and specialists."
"I have been going against Bo for years now, so I have seen him at his best, and I have seen him at his worst," senior safety Cody Prewitt said. "If you ask me, he should have been first team. Everybody is going to see that as soon as the season starts. He's really progressed mentally and physically in the offseason."
Wallace's confidence carries over to team goals for the Rebels, which were picked fourth in the SEC West by the league media, as he quickly and confidently answered that he would take a trip to the SEC Championship game over eclipsing Eli Manning's school record for career passing yards.
"Why can't we be a team that comes out of the West and makes some noise," Wallace said. "We're not saying, let's go to a national championship. We're going to take it one game at a time. Why not us? Why can't we have an impact like that and win a lot of football games.
"Going to Atlanta would cement your legacy forever being the first quarterback to be able to do it. I know I'm going to put up the numbers because Coach Freeze's offense is built for a quarterback to put up number. I know I can do that. It would be priceless to take this team to Atlanta."
Before taking his turn at the podium in the main room at SEC Media Days on Thursday, head coach Hugh Freeze met with members of the Ole Miss local media and addressed a wide variety of topics. Here are some of the highlights:
On Tee Shepard:
"I saw his update yesterday. It looked good. When his classes end on July 25, we will start getting the grades from the junior college to the (NCAA) clearinghouse. You're never sure of the time frame of those things, but we feel very confident, today, that he has what he needs to qualify. Hopefully he will be there right around the beginning of the camp, provided he finishes the way he's doing right now."
On the health of Bo Wallace:
"He feels really good. He's really confident. He looks better and has put on about 15 pounds. He's excited about the way he feels and the works that's taking place in the offseason, not only with Paul Jackson, but with some specialists who have looked at him. It's as confident as I have seen him."
On Bo Wallace working with quarterback specialist Tom House:
"We have talked about it and watched videos together. Everything is giving him confidence. We're excited. Hopefully, the arm strength that he has right now will be sustained throughout the year because of a full offseason of rehab work and strengthening and working with specialists."
On Fahn Cooper:
"(Paul Jackson) is excited about Fahn. He was ahead of where he thought he would be when he got here. He's a hard worker. He's an athletic kid. We're excited that he's exactly who we thought he would be."
On Aaron Morris and Christian Morris returning from injury, and the team's overall health:
"Aaron is doing everything now. It seems to be good. He's still working on his weight. He should be ready to go day one. Christian Morris is working out now. I'm not sure if he will be released to go day one for everything.
"Losing Chief Brown was difficult. He is a wonderful kid and we needed him. You finally get your secondary where you think it's a really solid two-deep. We lose Collins Moore this week for a period of time. He has a knee that will hold him out 4-to-6 weeks. That's part of the game. That's why you have to go recruit depth. We feel better because we have better depth at most places than we have had the last two years."
On incoming freshmen:
"Rod Taylor is a good player. How good will he be as a freshman, I don't know. We will need some of those young kids to play on the offensive line. Him and Fahn Cooper are the first two who jump off the page. We're really excited about Breeland Speaks and Garrald McDowell. We're going to need one of those receivers -- Dayall (Harris), Markell (Pack), Sammie (Epps) -- one of those guys to give us some depth at receiver. We're really excited about those guys.
"We're really excited about the whole class. Top to bottom, it is a very solid class. The ones who jump out are the ones where we have needs: offensive line and wide receiver depth."
On Jeremy Liggins:
"He's done absolutely phenomenal work. I couldn't be happier with Jeremy Liggins. He looks like a million bucks. He's running around. He's down to about 280 pounds. I don't know where I'm going to play him, but he's going to help us."
On backup quarterback:
"If we were playing today, it would totally depend upon the situation. If we were able to run the entire offense that we have, it would probably be (DeVante) Kincade. If we had to stand in the pocket and make a drive throwing the ball down the field, it would probably be (Ryan) Buchanan."
Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Three of SEC Media Days, which featured Steve Shaw (SEC), Justin Connolly (ESPN), Bill Hancock (College Football Playoff), Missouri, LSU and Arkansas.
The Ole Miss official website, OleMissSports.com, and the SEC official website, SECSports.com, will have continuous coverage of SEC Football Media Days, as will ESPNU, ESPN and Watch ESPN.
SEC imbalance: When will the West's dominance over the East end?, writes Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com
SEC coaches using Auburn's magical turnaround as preseason rallying cry, writes Joel A. Erickson of AL.com
Steve Shaw notes changes to targeting rule, quarterback safety and other points at SEC Media Days, writes Drew Champlin of AL.com
SEC Network TV launch looming; some fans in dark, writes John Zenor of the Associated Press
Mizzou was an SEC leader -- not an outlier -- all along, writes Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com
Mizzou's Mauk ready for SEC close-up, writes Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The best of LSU's Les Miles at SEC media day, writes Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com
'It's fun': Les Miles' trip through SEC media days, writes Ross Dellenger of The Advocate
Rabalais: These Tigers should relish the underdog role, writes Scott Rabalais of The Advocate
LSU football to rely on freshmen more than ever in 2014, writes Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com
Freshman Leonard Fournette draws lofty comparisons at LSU, writes Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com
Bielema, Razorbacks Stick With Plan, writes Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau
Razorbacks mastering their 'Hoganese,' writes Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com
Bret Bielema, Gus Malzahn not 'breaking bread,' but hurry-up adversaries do respect each other, writes Brandon Marcello of AL.com
Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Two of SEC Media Days, which featured South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Tennessee.
The Ole Miss official website, OleMissSports.com, and the SEC official website, SECSports.com, will have continuous coverage of SEC Football Media Days, as will ESPNU, ESPN and Watch ESPN.
Star power lacking at SEC Media Days, writes David Brandt of the Associated Press
SEC enters new world: Covering itself on TV channel, writes Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com
The best of Steve Spurrier's media day, writes Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com
South Carolina's energetic Spurrier still on top of his game -- and winning, writes Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com
Wild, Wild West: Bulldogs' Mullen trying to chart course for Atlanta, writes Logan Lowery of the Daily Journal
Take Five: Mississippi State, Mullen lay out their bold plans, writes Michael Bonner of the Clarion-Ledger
Dak Prescott, the SEC's newest star, takes the big stage, writes Bob Carskadon of HailState.com
Looking for the next Steve Spurrier? Look right at Kevin Sumlin and smile, writes Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com
Minus Manziel, Aggies escape microscope, writes Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com
Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin treating Manziel like Johnny Forgotten, writes Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com
Vols hoping for more in Jones' second season, writes Wes Rucker of govols247.com
Butch Jones, Vols enter season optimistic, writes Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com
NFL.com CFB 24/7 has counted down the 14 college football players to watch -- and some other college football topics -- in varying categories in 2014. Below are the highlights for Ole Miss and the link to the complete 14 for '14 series.
Most versatile players: Robert Nkemdiche (7)
Particulars: 6-4, 277, sophomore
Buzz: Did anyone else in the country see time on both the defensive line and at running back last year? Show of hands? Nkemdiche can make the claim, although he just got five totes in the backfield, for 32 yards. Short-yardage rushing aside, it's at defensive tackle where Nkemdiche is expected to dominate for the Rebels as a sophomore this fall. He played some end last year, as well, but tackle appears to be his home after making eight tackles for loss among 34 stops last year. But we won't be surprised if he gets a few more third-and-1 carries this fall.
Fastest players: Kailo Moore (5)
Another two-sport star in college, Moore mostly contributed last season on special teams as a freshman. He's off to a good start in 2014 on the track and has times comparable with TCU's Kolby Listenbee and Georgia Tech's Broderick Snoddy in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Toughest players: Serderius Bryant (4)
Particulars: 5-9, 215, junior
Buzz: Rebels free safety Cody Prewitt receives more acclaim for his big hits -- he almost eviscerated Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews in last season's opener -- but Bryant deserves the honor. He's a 5-9 linebacker (and the 5-9 is his listed height, with emphasis on "listed") who starts in the SEC. Bryant's nickname is "Bird," which he picked up in high school in the Orlando area for the way he flew around the field making tackles and big hits. Yes, despite his size, a guy nicknamed "Bird" really lays the wood. You have to be tough to be a 5-9 linebacker in the SEC who makes big hits.
Most physical players: Cody Prewitt (5)
Particulars: 6-2, 212, senior
Buzz: He led the SEC in interceptions last season with six, but don't let that fool you: Prewitt is a hitter first, and a coverage ace second. He's like an extra linebacker when it comes to run support, and patrols the middle of the field with a nasty streak on passing downs. Recall star Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews vomiting on national TV last year in the first game of the season after taking a brutal hit -- it was Prewitt on the giving end.
Players with best intangibles: Deterrian Shackelford (6)
Particulars: 6-1, 215, senior
Buzz: There are few stories of perseverance in college football to match that of Shackelford, who missed two straight years of football while recovering from multiple surgeries on a devastating knee injury. He returned last year to make 44 tackles -- 7.5 for losses. While not the team's best defender, he's the Rebels' emotional leader and the only two-time winner of Ole Miss' Chucky Mullins Award for courage. Shackelford's injury plight got him a rare sixth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, and he'll wear Mullins' No. 38 jersey this fall.
Smallest players: Jaylen Walton
Particulars: 5-8, 166, Junior
Buzz: Coach Hugh Freeze clearly likes his running backs small and quick, and that's exactly what Walton brings to the SEC in college football's most physical conference. He made seven starts in the Rebels' backfield last year, picking up 523 yards and six touchdowns. With 29 catches for 322 yards, he was also one of the SEC's most prolific receivers at the running back position. And if that wasn't enough for the two-year letterman from Memphis, he also returned 25 kickoffs for another 515 yards.
Heaviest players: Aaron Morris
Particulars: 6-5, 355, junior
Buzz: What could have been a dominant year for Morris last season never even got started, as a torn ACL put him on the sideline in the Rebels' first game. He had been a full-time starter at guard in 2012, and even saw six starts as a freshman in 2011. Morris isn't just a big body -- he's a player -- and provides a physical presence to an offense known more for finesse than power. A healthy Morris in 2014 would be a major boost to the Ole Miss offensive front.
Top recruiters: Chris Kiffin
Remember when the Rebels seemed to come out of nowhere in 2013 and land a recruiting class ranked in the top 10 that included the best player in the country? Kiffin was the chief reason why Laremy Tunsil and Robert Nkemdiche are in Oxford, and he's been the man behind the recruiting efforts of the program that has turned heads recently. Recruiting and the last name Kiffin always seem to go together and it will be interesting to see how Chris will fare going against brother Lane head-to-head.
Biggest hitters: Cody Prewitt (3)
Particulars: 6-2, 212, senior.
Buzz: He is from Bay Springs, Miss. If you're like us, you hear "Bay Springs" and you picture a calm, peaceful place. Well, that's not the way Prewitt plays football; instead, he flies around, making big plays and huge hits. His nicely executed form tackle on Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews in last season's opener is a perfect example. (Warning: Do not run a Google search on that hit unless you are comfortable with watching a guy throw up on the field.) But Prewitt, who should vie for All-America honors this fall, is more than a big hitter; he had six interceptions and seven pass breakups to go along with 71 tackles last season. Still, while he is good in coverage, his best trait is his hitting ability.
14 For '14,
2013 World Championships,
2014 World Cup,
2014 World Cup Brazil,
2016 Summer Olympics,
Alabama Crimson Tide,
Armintie Price Herrington,
BBVA Compass Bowl,
Be The Fan,
Best of the Season,
Billy Van Devender,
Bram ten Berge,
By The Numbers,
Cal Ripken Senior League,
California Collegiate League,
Cape Cod League,
Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge,
Chucky Mullins Award,
Chucky Mullins Courage Award,
College Baseball Tournament,
College Football Live,
College World Series,
Collegiate Summer Leagues,
Colorado Springs Sky Sox,
Dr. Jamil Northcutt;,
Engineers Without Border,
ESPN College Gameday,
Evan St. Laurent,
Florida State Seminoles,
Florida State Soccer,
Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl,
Franklin American Music City Bowl,
From The Vault,
Georgia State Baseball,
Georgia Tech Baseball,
Give To Athletics,
Hall of Fame,
Hard Core Fighter,
Health and Sports Performance,
Jackson Touchdown Club,
Jacksonville State Baseball,
Jacksonville State Gamecocks,
Jeff Scott Hugh Freeze,
Lafayette Super Regional,
Lock The Vaught,
Look Back Video,
Los Angeles Sparks,
Lynnette Johnson; SEC Women's Golf,
Mai El Kamash,
mary ashton nall,
Mary Ashton Nall,
Meet The Rebels Day,
Mel Kiper Jr.,
Men's Tennis Tennis,
Mississippi State Basketball,
Mississippi State Men's Basketball,
Mississippi State Women's Basketball,
Mississippi State Women's Hoops,
Music City Bowl,
National Signing Day,
National Women's Soccer League,
NCAA Baseball Tournament,
NCAA Doubles Final Four,
NCAA Lafayette Super Regional,
NCAA Oxford Regional,
NCAA Super Regional,
NCAA Tennis Final Four,
New Basketball Arena,
New Softball Coach,
NFL Draft 2014,
NFL Draft Combine,
NFL Draft Projections,
NFL Mock Drafts,
NFL Pro Bowl,
NFL Scouting Combine,
Nike Asia Tour,
North Carolina State,
Ole Miss Athletics,
Ole Miss Athletics Foundation,
Ole Miss Baseball,
Ole Miss Baseball Fans,
Ole Miss Basketball,
Ole Miss Engineering,
Ole Miss Fans,
Ole Miss Football,
Ole Miss Football 2014,
Ole Miss Football Schedules,
Ole Miss Football Top 25 2014,
Ole Miss Foundation,
Ole Miss Hoops,
Ole Miss Men's Basketball,
Ole Miss Men's Golf,
Ole Miss Men's Hoops,
Ole Miss Men's Tennis,
Ole Miss Pix,
Ole Miss Pro Day,
Ole Miss Rebels,
Ole Miss Regional,
Ole Miss Rifle,
Ole Miss Soccer,
Ole Miss Softball,
Ole Miss Solo Cups,
Ole Miss Sports Productions,
Ole Miss Tennis,
Ole Miss Top 25 2014,
Ole Miss Track,
Ole Miss Track and Field,
Ole Miss Volleyball,
Ole Miss Women's Basketball,
Ole Miss Women's Golf,
Ole Miss Women's Golf; Dori Carter,
Ole Miss Women's Golf; Kaitlin Voll,
Ole Miss Women's Golf; Katie Voll,
Ole Miss Women's Golf; Katilin Voll,
Ole Miss Women's Hoops,
Ole Miss Women's Soccer,
Ole Miss Women's Tennis,
Ole Misss Rifle,
Opening Day 2014,
Postgame Press Conference,
Rebel Media Day,
Rebel Road Trip,
Rebels Choice Awards,
Rebels' Choice Awards,
Red & Blue Classic,
Red And Blue Classic,
Rifle Video Promo,
Road To Omaha,
Run On Opening Day 2014,
School of Education,
SEC Baseball Tournament,
SEC Basketball Teleconference,
SEC Basketball Tournament,
SEC East Opponents,
SEC Football Media Days,
SEC Football Schedules,
SEC Football Teleconference,
SEC Media Days,
SEC Men's Basketball,
SEC Men's Basketball Teleconference,
SEC Men's Basketball Tournament,
SEC Men's Tennis Tournament,
SEC Player of the Year,
SEC Tennis Tournament,
SEC Track and Field,
SEC Track and Field Championships,
SEC Track and Field Indoor Championships,
SEC Women's Basketball Teleconference,
SEC Women's Basketball Tournament,
Shelby Jo Fenter,
Soldier Returns Home,
Soldier Surprises Family,
Solo Cup Races,
South Carolina Basketball,
Southeast Athletic Trainers' Association,
Southeastern Conference Basketball,
Southeastern Conference Record,
Spain National Team,
State of Ole Miss Athletics,
Super Bulldog Weekend,
TCU Horned Frogs,
TD Ameritrade Park,
Texas A&M Basketball,
Texas Tech Baseball,
Texas Tech Red Raiders,
The Season Ole Miss,
The Season Ole Miss Baseball,
Track & Field,
Under-19 World Championship,
Under-20 European Championships,
University of Mississippi,
USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships,
USA Track & Field,
Vanderbilt Men's Basketball,
Vanderbilt Women's Basketball,
Vanderbilt Women's Hoops,
Walk Out Music,
Walk Out Songs,
We Are Ole Miss,
Week in Review,
William & Mary,
William Winter Institute,
Women's Basketball; Yolanda Moore,
World Cup Brazil,
Year In Review,