Ole Miss practice report: Early injury bug strikes Rebels
Ole Miss football held day four of open practice on Friday morning, marking the media’s fourth opportunity to see what the new-look Rebels will be as the 2019 season approaches. Due to some thunderstorms in the area, the practice was half-outside, half-inside to end the week. Below are some quick takeaways from observing Ole Miss practice.
1. Notable injuries beginning to compound
During open portions of practice on Wednesday, tight end Jason Pellerin left practice after suffering a head injury. We did not see the actual injury take place, but Pellerin was not out there to practice on Friday. He is reportedly in the concussion protocol and is out indefinitely until he passes it. The Rebel tight end room doesn’t have a ton of depth, with Pellerin and Octavious Cooley splitting first-team reps throughout practice so far. With Pellerin sidelined, Nick Haynes was getting second reps at the tight end position. More realistically, if he is to miss serious time, the offense would likely just run more four-receiver looks.
On the defensive side, Jon Haynes was also not on the field, nor was Qaadir Sheppard. Both have been starting on the first-team offensive line for the Rebels. Ole Miss confirmed Shepard is out 10 days with a hand injury. The team would not comment further, but it is believed Sheppard broke his hand on Thursday. Haynes is day-to-day with a ‘lower body’ injury. Additionally, senior defensive back Montrell Custis is still not participating in full-contact practice, recovering from a knee injury suffered last fall.
2. First-team defense sees some shakeups
Every time the first-team defense is displayed on the field, primarily in pursuit drills, it looks a little different. Today, with safety Jon Haynes and outside linebacker Qaadir Sheppard not on the field, it was sophomore C.J. Miller getting the first-team defense reps and junior Charles Wiley at outside linebacker opposite Sam Williams. One other interesting development, four-star junior college recruit Lakia Henry saw his first reps with the first-team defense at inside linebacker. Sam Williams, who has gotten every first-team defense rep at outside linebacker, and Henry were two of the top-8 JuCo recruits in the nation for the 2019 class, so seeing Henry out with the first team for the first time is a good sign.
3. NFL Scouts inquiring about Ole Miss defense
Scouts from the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers were at practice on Friday. Myles Hartsfield, the Ole Miss No. 1 cornerback, seemed to be the name drawing most attention and inquiry from the scouts while talking to the Rebel coaching staff. For reference, Hartsfield is not listed in the top 32 draft eligible cornerbacks according to WalterFootball.com, regardless, there was much inquiry about the Rebel senior. Hartsfield was a freshman All-American and has since started just about every game over the course of his sophomore and junior seasons. Among others drawing interest from the scouts included Jaylon Jones, Willie Hibbler and Qaadir Sheppard.
Nathanael Gabler covers Ole Miss and high school sports for the Oxford Eagle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org with news tips, suggestions or comments. Follow @ngabler4 on Twitter.