Jeremy Liggins at Left Tackle; Issac Gross Healing
OXFORD, Miss. — With spring football practice fully underway, head coach Hugh Freeze’s Rebels took repetitions in full pads for just the second time Monday afternoon. Due to construction, the team was inside the Manning Center for the two-hour practice session.
“It’s very hard, when you don’t have pads, to tell anything,” Freeze said. “We’ve only had pads one day, and that wasSaturday. It was typical spring first day of pads.
The story of the day was the work of, what will be, a new-look offensive line. The trenches will be missing a few big names in 2016 with Laremy Tunsil moving on to the NFL Draft and Aaron Morris and Fahn Cooper graduating. Though there are some holes to fill, Freeze is confident in who he has returning.
“By the end of spring, hopefully we’ve improved the ones we have,” Freeze said. “That’s what our job is, and I love the effort they’re giving and the work they’re giving.”
One that will have another different, and perhaps bigger role, on the offensive line is senior Jeremy Liggins (Oxford, Miss.) Liggins has moved completely over to coach Matt Luke’s offensive line for his final year for the Red and Blue and his coaches are excited about it.
“We’re excited. I think it’s a good move for him, good move for us,” Freeze remarked. “If you look, percentage-wise, he played a very small percentage of snaps.”
“He’s too athletic to not have him on the field. We’ve got to find a way to get him on there,” Freeze added.
Luke is happy to have Liggins back on the offensive line full-time.
“I’ve been very pleased with Jeremy,” Luke said. “He’s really athletic so I’m excited with where he’s been the last few days.”
Liggins, who has played both quarterback and tight end for the Rebels, has taken some reps at his new position, most recently during Sugar Bowl practices.
“He has had a lot of carryover from reps on the offensive line,” Luke added.
Also a talking point for Freeze was the play of some of the younger players on the team. There were a few that stuck out the most for the coaches.
“Myles Hartsfield, I think, is very athletic, explosive,” Freeze said. “(Montrell) Custis has done some really good things also. Alex Givens, I like his toughness. Those are the three that kind of jump to mind. Jalen Julius at corner, I think, has got something to him.”
Among injured players who have began making their comeback is senior Issac Gross (Batesville, Miss.) who, according to Freeze, is progressing nicely.
“He may be cleared, but we won’t try that,” Freeze insisted. “We’ll let him get all the way through summer and give him as much time as we can to get totally healed.”
Freeze added that their is a great amount of optimism in the program about Gross’ recovery. The MRI results and other tests have all shown that he is healing correctly and getting into the proper playing shape.
“If he can be 260 when the season starts, that would be awesome because that’s 20-something pounds heavier that anything he’s been since he’s been here,” Freeze said. “He’s really committed himself to the nutrition part of it, too. We laid out a plan for him nutritionally, and he’s followed it pretty close.”
The rest of the banged-up Rebels are working their way back to the field according to plan, and there have been no new injuries since the start of spring ball.
“(There’s) nothing of significance,” Freeze added. “A ding here and a ding there, but nothing of significance.”
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