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Ole Miss Practice Report: Thursday, August 17

Ole Miss Practice Report: Thursday, August 17

OXFORD, Miss.After Thursday’s practice, we inch another day closer to the Rebels’ September 2nd season opener against Mercer in Vaught-Hemingway. Based on the parts of practices that have been open to media, we’ll take a stab at what the offensive depth chart might look like.  

On Monday we took our best guess at the expected starters for defensive coordinator Pete Golding’s group from what we have seen, so now let’s look at the other side of the ball.

Quarterback: For all the talk about the quarterback competition, and it has been competitive for sure, we can say, as many other media analysts have, that Jaxson Dart looks to be QB1 based solely on the portions of practice we are able to see.

Year two in the system seems to have benefited Dart more than anyone else on the returning roster. Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders is still the second man up in almost every drill, has looked good and is battling to show what he’s got. Walker Howard and Austin Simmons both rotate with the second group. 

Coach Kiffin was asked Thursday about the progress of his quarterbacks. 

“I think those guys are doing really good,” Kiffin began.  

I think that (offensive coordinator) Coach (Charlie) Weis has spent a ton of time with them, so many new guys…Jaxson, he’s only going on a second year here, so they’ve done a really good job with the system to be able to function and I think they’re all doing really good. The two younger guys have really grasped on the learning the system and doing a good job and the two older guys have continued to improve. Spencer is healthy now, which was not the case all spring. He’s done some really good things, especially in some live, scrimmage type situations.

Lane Kiffin on the Ole Miss QBs

Running back: Quinshon Judkins was named to the CBS Sports preseason All-America team earlier this week, and everyone is excited about his sophomore campaign. As one of the best — if not the best — running backs in the country, he is clearly going to be a focus of the Rebels’ offense.

Ulysses “Doo” Bentley is nursing an injury, but we expect to see him used a ton at running back this fall. Oregon State transfer Jam Griffin and true freshman Kedrick Reescano will likely both see carries at RB3 until one of them pulls away from the other. Matt Jones has also seen many reps out of that room.

Coach Kiffin was asked if bringing in the transfer Griffin was a need or a luxury.

I think both really. You got what is a really talented player that has played in some big games and done a good job — and that was not a very deep position, numbers wise (at Ole Miss).”

Coach Kiffin on the running backs

Wide receivers: Transfers Tre Harris and Zakhari Franklin are two of the expected top receivers for the Rebels this year, but don’t be surprised to see jersey No. 1 on the field a lot. No. 1 as in true freshman phenom Ayden Williams who has drawn rave reviews from coaches and teammates, alike. Jalen Knox will find the ball in his hands quite often as well. 

Jordan Watkins and Dayton Wade will also be used in multiple spots, not just receiver. Bralon Brown, JJ Henry and Cayden Lee are also in the crowded room, but will surely see the field this fall. And don’t sleep on walk-on Joshua Pfeifer. He’s looked very good thus far in camp.


Tre Harris spoke with media today about what he’s doing to jell with the other wideouts.

I’d say it’s more outside of football. Just hanging out, taking guys out to certain places, just being around the guys, getting to know each other outside of football. The biggest thing for us is just coming together.

Tre Harris

Tight end: Caden Prieskorn seems to have solidified himself as the starter. The senior Memphis transfer is an NFL talent who could be one of the best in the country at his position. 

Kyirin Heath has seen a lot of action, alongside Prieskorn as well as backing him up. Michael Trigg is obviously incredibly talented and could figure prominently into the offensive picture. Hudson Wolfe, who has been out for two years due to injury, seems healthy and is participating full contact. He and Jayvontay Conner have both run with the second unit.

Coach Kiffin discussed the depth of the tight end room.

I think JDB (John David Baker) has really restructured this room really well. This has been an issue since we’ve been here…you guys have seen where we played a game without one last year and to now have quality competition really, four or five guys in there that are doing things. If our whole team had approved in the last few years like our tight end group, we’d be a really special personnel team.”

Lane Kiffin on the tight ends

Offensive line: Ole Miss returns five of its top six offensive linemen from last season and has added depth via the portal and recruiting. Many the o-line are versatile and have been seen in different positions along the line.

For example, while Victor Curne has spent much of fall camp battling it out with Eli Acker for the left guard spot, today we saw Curne take first-team reps at left tackle. Before today, Jayden Williams has been the mainstay at the position —all last season as a freshman and up until now throughout fall camp. We were only able to view the first four periods today, but while we were there, Curne was at LT. 

Again, the versatility is seen as right guard Jeremy James can play guard or tackle, while center Caleb Warren can play center or guard. Likewise, transfer Quincy McGee got some reps on the first team at left guard. Acker and Curne have both worked at the position for most all of fall camp.

Reece McIntyre has been practicing at center while Warren has recovered from offseason surgery. Curne and McGee both see time on the right and left sides of the line. True freshman Brycen Sanders has also been seen at multiple positions.

Defensive note

On first team defense at today’s practice we saw newcomer Stephon Wynn at defensive tackle next to JJ Pegues, instead of Joshua Harris or Zxavian Harris. Again, we are only able to watch the first four periods of practice, so who is running with the ones and twos could easily change. 

Cedric Johnson and Jared Ivey were on the edge, while transfers Monty Montgomery and Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste were at linebacker. The starting secondary consisted of  Deantre Prince, Zamari Walton, Trey Washington, Daijahn Anthony and Isheem Young.

Mental Health Certifications

Coach Kiffin also spoke Monday about the mental health certification his coaches now hold. Ole Miss is the first program in the nation to have every coach get this certification and it seems like the players appreciate it.

“This was more about helping them in life,” Kiffin explained.

I think players know or are aware of it more in open doors. The fact, well if the coaches did this, now it’s a lot easier to talk about when issues come up. I think that’s part of the improvement of our culture too with guys coming in and knowing that’s how we do it here, maybe it’s different from where they were at before. You don’t have to go just shut up and play football. I think that’s been really good.

Lane Kiffin on his coaches becoming mental-health certified 

Receiver Harris was asked about his thoughts on the certification today.

That’s huge, especially now with the dog days of camp, it can get long. We’re able to talk to our coaches. We’re not shying away how someone feels…they understand that somedays it’s not gonna be your day. You’re gonna have those off days. That’s what you got your brother here for, your coaches here for, to pour into you and really pick you up.”

Tre Harris 

Defensive end Issac Ukwu also spoke about the importance of emphasis on players’ mental health.

I think it’s big. I have been in college for a while, coming up with social media mental health and how that has been a big issue in the real world as well as in an athletic space. I feel like them taking the time to learn and get integrated to how they can better help athletes is really big. The days of sucking it up and not acknowledging things, those days are behind us.

Isaac Ukwu

Injury Report 

Thursday, expected starting center Caleb Warren, running back Matt Jones and tight end Caden Prieskorn were all out of their ‘no-contact’ jerseys from previous practices and full participants with the team.

RB Ulysses ‘Doo’ Bentley IV, WR Jordan Watkins, Safety Teja Young, and DB Nick Cull were all in ‘no-contact’ jerseys but participating in drills. 

DB Jason Canady, WR Larry Simmons, WR Qua Davis, LB Skielar Mann and WR Rayf Vinson all continued to don the ‘no-contact’ jersey as well.

WR Zakhari Franklin is working towards a week-one return. Safety Ladarius Tennison was working with Franklin today inside the Manning Center, but he was not a participant in open practice periods today.

Up Next 

The Rebs continue to put in the work leading up to September 2nd. At 1 pm on that opening Saturday of College Football, Ole Miss will host Mercer in the Vaught.

Stay tuned to The Rebel Walk for all your fall camp coverage and other Ole Miss sports updates! 

Kameron Wicker

Kameron Wicker

Kam is an undergraduate at Ole Miss, currently pursuing a degree in Journalism. Even though he’s from Delhi, Louisiana, that didn’t stop Kam from growing up a diehard Ole Miss fan. He’s a sports guru who watches and follows all sports at all times. He lettered four years in football and baseball in high school and is an avid Saints, Pelicans, and Astros fan. In his free time, you can find him watching sports or at the rec participating in them.

About The Author

Kameron Wicker

Kam is an undergraduate at Ole Miss, currently pursuing a degree in Journalism. Even though he's from Delhi, Louisiana, that didn't stop Kam from growing up a diehard Ole Miss fan. He's a sports guru who watches and follows all sports at all times. He lettered four years in football and baseball in high school and is an avid Saints, Pelicans, and Astros fan. In his free time, you can find him watching sports or at the rec participating in them.

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