Monday was a day that the media was allowed to attend spring practice at the Manning Center. From this perspective, several things jumped off the page.
1. The overall morale was incredibly positive. The practice was intense, however, the players were enjoying the competition. It was inspiring to watch and encouraging to think how good this team could actually become.
2. Without naming individual players, it is safe to say that the level of talent is apparent. Size, speed and skill were all clearly visible. I cannot recall in recent memory when this situation existed. Had the uniforms been different, we could just as easily been observing an Alabama, Florida or Ohio State practice.
3. The continuity of the coaching staff is definitely influencing the upgrade of talent and the rise in the polls. It’s reminiscent of the Vaught era when assistant coaches wanted to remain at Ole Miss for lengthy tenures. The environment is now ideal for this.
4. Last but not least, the competition at an individual position is raising the bar throughout the team. Players know now that they must perform to receive maximum playing time as there is another player waiting in the wings who is SEC ready.
I know I get accused often of being too much of a cheerleader for Ole Miss football, however, it’s difficult to contain your enthusiasm when you’re seeing this talent pool of excellence. The four quarterbacks were all impressive as this is one position Ole Miss fans will not need to be concerned about for years to come. Ditto for the receivers, running backs and offensive line. The defensive ranks are also hitting on all cylinders with the speed and size visible throughout.
Looking ahead to the 2016 season, I realize that we’re only in the spring, and so many moving parts are in play, but if this group continues to progress, any game on the schedule is winnable.
Let me reemphasize, any game! An opponent that doesn’t take Ole Miss seriously is making a HUGE mistake. Coming off a 10-win season and a Sugar Bowl championship, Ole Miss football is definitely alive and well. The days of trying to figure out which minor bowl we will be headed (if going at all) are long past.
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at email@example.com or call him at 985-852-7745.