Who’s in, who’s out for Ole Miss this spring?

Published 3:09 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ole Miss will be without a number of key contributors this spring who are still recovering from offseason injuries.

Tight end Dawson Knox, running backs D’Vaughn Pennamon and DK Buford and backup center Eli Johnson won’t practice at all this spring. Defensively, Benito Jones, Qaadir Sheppard and Austrian Robinson are in the same boat, head coach Matt Luke said.

Knox has dealt with a lingering foot injury since the beginning of last season while Pennamon is three months removed from surgery on a dislocated kneecap. Buford is dealing with a shoulder injury. Johnson is still recovering from ACL surgery early last season.

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Jones, Sheppard and Robinson are working their way back from offseason surgeries. Jones and Sheppard, who will help fill the void at end left by Marquis Haynes and Breeland Speaks, are projected starters on the defensive line.

Luke said he’s expects all of them to be “fine” come the fall.

Offensive lineman Alex Givens, center Sean Rawlings (back), defensive back Ken Webster (groin), safety C.J. Miller (ribs), running back Scottie Phillips and receiver Demarcus Gregory (knee) will all be limited in the early part of the spring as they work their way back from minor injuries, Luke said. Phillips, a junior college transfer that will figure heavily into the competition to replace 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Wilkins, and Gregory, a mid-year enrollee, are going through their first spring with the Rebels.

Changing positions

One player Ole Miss has turned to help with depth at running back is Armani Linton, who’s made the move from safety. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Linton’s playing time has been scarce (six career tackles) in the secondary since signing with the Rebels in 2016.

“We want to really try to focus on seeing if we can get him some reps before (fall) practice,” Luke said. “If that goes really good, we’ll keep him there. If not, we’ll move him back to safety. We want to start him there so he can learn the terminology and the system.”

Brenden Williams is moving from linebacker to defensive end to help with the numbers there with Sheppard and Robinson out. Junior college transfer Vernon Dasher was signed as a linebacker but will start at Star, a hybrid linebacker-safety position in the Rebels’ 4-2-5 scheme.