BLOG — There was one major difference between Monday’s spring practice and the rest of Ole Miss’ football workouts going back to when the Rebels were preparing for last season: the freshmen could talk about it afterward.
Last year’s newcomers had been kept off limits from the media by coach Hugh Freeze since they signed with the Rebels two Februarys ago. But the ban was lifted following today’s outdoor practice, and a trio of soon-to-be sophomores — left tackle Laremy Tunsil, cornerback Derrick Jones and backup quarterback Ryan Buchanan — spoke publicly for the first time as Rebels.
There was plenty to talk about.
Tunsil was one of the nation’s top overall prospects in the 2013 class and showed what all the hype was about by taking over as the anchor on the left side of the line three games into the season and earning freshman All-American honors from numerous publications. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Tunsil is being touted as a top-10 draft pick two years from now, but he said he’s focused more on improving his strength, run blocking and helping the Rebels get to Atlanta to play for an SEC championship.
Jones didn’t come to Ole Miss with nearly as much hype, but he may be just as intriguing. The long, rangy Jones (6-2, 188) moved from receiver to cornerback midway through last season, more than held his own and, at the least, will provide some quality depth behind incumbents Mike Hilton and Senquez Golson this fall.
Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said earlier this spring that Jones has the tools to make some money at the position at the next level, and Jones said he’s getting more and more comfortable there and sees playing cornerback as his future.
If everything goes according to plan, Buchanan isn’t likely to see much playing time this fall with Bo Wallace returning for his third and final season as the Rebels’ signal caller. But Buchanan is in a heated battle with fellow classmate Devante Kincade to be the first guy off the bench if something were to happen to Wallace. The Jackson native used his first year in Oxford to redshirt, something Buchanan said helped him as he now fights for the backup job.
Videos of all three players are below.
See Tuesday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage from Monday’s practice. (March 24, 2014)