By Adam Brown
Ole Miss held its annual media day at the Manning Center on Thursday as players reported back prior to the start of fall camp opening up on Friday.
Head coach Matt Luke spoke about the excitement that is in the building heading into the start of camp. As the Rebels are young, they are back to a full 85 scholarships and have an opportunity to compete to go to a bowl game in the postseason.
“[There are] a lot of young players that will bring a lot of competition in the month of August,” Luke said.
This season, two new coordinators are on the staff that have players learning a new system.
“We look to really use this month to build and mold this team,” he said.
The Rebels are young on the offensive side of the ball during fall camp; however Luke and his team are using the camp to build confidence making sure that this is an unselfish and disciplined team.
During fall camp senior offensive lineman Alex Givens will be limited in reps after going through lower back surgery in July. Along with Givens, Alex Faniel will be limited, as well as Luke Knox with a hamstring injury and Montrell Custis coming back from his knee injury.
“(Custis) will be out there but not 100 percent yet,” Luke said.
Freshman Darius Thomas will be with the team during camp, but he learned of a heart condition and will be evaluated in September with the hopes of being on the field by the end of the season, Luke said.
The offensive line will have Bryce Mathews and Micheal Howard in reps along with Royce Newman.
Red-shirt freshman quarterback Matt Corral is one of four freshmen QB’s working with offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez, and Luke believes that the four games from last season will be a help preparing each quarterback for the upcoming season.
“They’ll all be competing against each other and Rich has done a good job in the past of getting those guys ready to play,” he said.
Coming into camp some of the leaders that are emerging are Corral, Givens and Austrian Robinson, according to Luke.
“(Robinson) is that blue collar, hard-nosed guy,” Luke said. “When he stands up and talks, people listen.”
The wide receivers and the offensive line may show the tightest competition through camp.
“Guys are hungry and they want to come in and prove themselves. I’m excited to see the competition with those two battles,” he said.
The Rebels defense has gained confidence under coach Mike MacIntyre in the spring.
“I did see that confidence start to build in the spring and into the summer, and I think it will continue to build,” Luke said.
Ole Miss opens the season at Memphis on August 30. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. on ABC.