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Ole Miss football begins voluntary workouts

For the first time since March, there was activity inside the Manning Center on Monday.

Voluntary workouts were allowed to resume on June 8 on all Southeastern Conference campuses after all collegiate competitions and activities were suspended in the spring due to COVID-19.

The entire football team was not in attendance, as freshmen and transfers will report to campus on June 15 as part of the staggered return process of getting athletes back to Oxford.

Publicity of voluntary workouts is not allowed, per the NCAA, but Ole Miss media relations provided some comments from football strength coach Wilson Love following Monday’s workouts.

“It was an incredible feeling,” Love said of getting players back in the facilities. “You miss those guys for so long and you only get seven weeks with them in the winter. To finally get to see and just be around them is an incredible experience in and of itself.”

With the workouts being voluntary, teams cannot require players to be present at the facilities. Full practices are not allowed yet by the NCAA, meaning pads and equipment are not being used. The workouts are similar to what athletes at the high school level are able to do this month, which is working on getting their cardio back up and doing what little weight training is possible with the social distancing and COVID-19 guidelines in place.

Monday was the first time staff and athletes were back inside facilities, outside of last week’s COVID-19 testing and the physicals administered when the first wave of players returned on June 1.

Having the downtime gave Love and his staff time to asses and re-evaluate their plan for when they could once again resume conditioning drills.

“It was almost a blessing in disguise because you kind of get to re-think things and question certain things you’ve done in the past,” Love said. “You get to read so much different material. So, I challenged the staff every week to have certain things like, ‘Hey lets hit this topic. Lets hit that.’ Maybe not just strength and conditioning but maybe some mindset training. You don’t really get that kind of opportunity much. You don’t get to re-think things and make it the best program for the kids that they can.”

Players continued to arrive in Oxford with another wave showing up last Friday. Associate athletic director for health and sports told the EAGLE on Monday that all of the COVID-19 tests administered on Friday came back negative. There have been two positives reported since players returned on June 1 coming from one player and one staff member, who are both in the quarantine protocol.