The Ole Miss Rebels are now into Week 3 of spring practice in Oxford.
With two weeks down, only two more weeks of practice remain until the Grove Ball (April 13).
In the Week 3 Rebel stock report, there are some definite surprises.
In fact, it's safe to assume that even Ole Miss fans aren't familiar with some of the names to follow.
While there are some fresh faces stepping up, the same players seem to be struggling in camp.
Now into the month of April, let's dive into what's happening in Oxford.
6'3'', 292-pound sophomore DT Woodrow Hamilton is making a name for himself this spring, and it couldn't come at a better time for the Rebels.
Heading into spring practice, one of the biggest defensive concerns for Ole Miss (at least from a depth standpoint) was the interior defensive line. While NT Issac Gross and DT Byron Bennett return in 2013, key reserve DTs Gilbert Pena and Uriah Grant have graduated.
Defensive line coach Chris Kiffin hoped some guys would shine this spring, and he certainly hasn't been disappointed with the interior line. While DT Byron Bennett has looked solid, Hamilton looks to be playing at an entirely different level than he did as a reserve in 2012. That's a good sign for the season ahead.
In eight games of reserve work last season, Hamilton tallied eight tackles and one sack. Knowing his number will be called upon much more this year, the sophomore is defining himself this spring as a hard-nosed, physical player up front. He'll have every opportunity to contribute this season.
Between Hamilton, Gross, Bennett, DL Lavon Hooks and DT Carlton Martin, the Rebels should close out spring ball feeling much better about the rotation on the interior defensive line.
Southern Miss transfer Anthony Alford has looked the part of an SEC athlete this spring, but unfortunately he'll have to sit out the 2013 season as a transfer.
Alford played quarterback for the Golden Eagles in 2012, where he passed for 664 yards (two touchdowns) and rushed for 329 yards (six touchdowns). An Army All-American out of Petal High School (Petal, MS), nothing really went right for Alford in Hattiesburg last season.
Beyond beginning his college career on a team that eventually went 0-12, Alford also suffered several injuries and got mixed up in a campus altercation that landed him 300 hours of community service.
Simply put, the Southern Miss experience went horribly wrong for Alford.
Given an opportunity for a second chance by Hugh Freeze, Alford appears to be making the best of things during spring practice. More than anything, the Golden Eagle transfer is a phenomenal athlete. That being said, Ole Miss coaches seem to like Alford at the safety spot right now.
By the time Alford suits up for an actual game at Ole Miss in 2014, he should be armed with all the skills necessary to be a true star in the SEC.
In the interim, he just has to keep making progress.
A walk-on this spring, 5'10'', 183-pound RB Darryan Ragsdale has looked anything but a first-year Ole Miss Rebel.
As a freshman at Hinds Community College (HCC) in Mississippi last season, Ragsdale rushed for 658 yards (three touchdowns) and pulled in another 159 yards receiving. However, arguably his most impressive statistic at HCC was his 6.1 YPR on the ground (No. 18 in NJCAA).
There's no question the walk-on will have to fight mightily for carries in the backfield this fall behind the likes of Jeff Scott, I'Tavius Mathers, Jaylen Walton and Mark Dodson. However, in an offense such as the one Hugh Freeze runs at Ole Miss, fresh legs are at a premium.
Never underestimate the drive of a kid trying to bust onto the scene. He's headed in the right direction.
Remember the name Darryan Ragsdale, folks.
Rebel QB Bo Wallace is looking for a few good tight ends.
With TEs Ferbia Allen and Jamal Mosley having graduated, the cupboard is empty for the Rebels.
However, Hugh Freeze was well aware of the vacancy coming at tight end as he pieced together his 2013 recruiting class. Within the stellar class, he signed three tight ends: Evan Engram, A.J. Jackson and Christian Morgan. The head Rebel met his needs, but the experience obviously isn't there yet.
While Morgan, a mid-year enrollee, has looked capable in practice this spring, it's simply going to take time for the true freshman to adjust prior to the fall. This summer, Engram and Jackson will join forces with Morgan at tight end, but they too will be walking into an entirely new atmosphere.
Who could possibly step up for the Rebels and assist the freshman this year?
Enter 6'3'', 237-pound senior TE Jack Nuismer.
The nephew of country singer Vince Gill and three-time SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll recipient, Nuismer actually graduated from Ole Miss this past December. This spring, he's vying for a shot to finally find playing time for the Rebels.
With reserve TE John Youngblood having been moved to the defensive line, Nuismer has given Ole Miss a veteran option at tight end. While he doesn't have any game experience, Nuismer is a smart kid who has had a year to learn Freeze's offense. It should benefit him greatly as he works for a starting job.
Along with RB Darryan Ragsdale, Nuismer is quickly making a name for himself in Oxford.
Ole Miss basketball guard Martavious Newby is trying his hand at football this spring.
Ironically, Hugh Freeze actually recruited Newby to play football when he coached at Arkansas State. However, it was Rebel basketball coach Andy Kennedy that ultimately signed Newby to play basketball. Nevertheless, both coaches now have Newby's services at Ole Miss.
At 6'3'', 210 pounds, Newby is getting a shot to play linebacker for the Rebels this spring.
John Varlas of The Commercial Appeal noted of Newby's football skills at Booker T. Washington High School (Memphis, TN ):
Booker T. Washington senior Martavious Newby has been turning heads on the basketball court for a long time. Now, he's starting to open some eyes on the football field as well. Newby, a Best of the Preps and Class AA Mr. Basketball finalist last season, turned in his best football performance of the year Friday night, running for 264 yards on just nine carries as the Warriors rolled to a 40-12 victory over Douglass. He had three touchdowns, on runs of 60, 54 and 98 yards, to help the Warriors improve to 3-3.
Having strictly focused on the hardwood in 2012-2013, the sophomore will have to get acclimated to both the speed of college football and the Rebel defensive scheme. Beyond starting LBs Mike Marry and Denzel Nkemdiche, Newby will face stiff competition from D.T. Shackelford, Keith Lewis, Serderius Bryant and Temario Strong.
With a head coach already high on Newby out of his school, the sophomore will get every chance to develop as a two-sport athlete at Ole Miss.
Another week of practice, another week of nothing great to report at reserve quarterback.
With starting QB Bo Wallace sidelined this spring (shoulder surgery), reserve QBs Barry Brunetti and Maikhail Miller have been sharing snaps for the Rebels. While neither man has looked horrible, neither has shown a great deal of promise running the up-tempo Ole Miss offense for Wallace.
With each passing day, the odds of true freshmen QBs Ryan Buchanan and Devante Kincade seriously competing for the reserve job this summer becomes more of a reality.
Make no mistake: It's not the ideal situation for Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss. In fact, it's just the opposite.
Buchanan and Kincade are both very talented young quarterbacks. However, either freshman faces an uphill climb if forced to be the top reserve in 2013. While it would be hard enough to go immediately from high school to SEC play, having to also comprehend the Ole Miss offense would make it that much tougher of a learning curve.
I may sound a little dramatic in stressing the seriousness of having a ready-to-go reserve this season, but Wallace will be coming back from shoulder surgery this fall. As mobile and dynamic as he is on offense, it's imperative Ole Miss has a solid No. 2 QB heading into the fall.
In a worst-case scenario, the season could hinge on reserve quarterback play.
With a little over a week remaining, it'll be interesting to hear coaches evaluate Brunetti and Miller following the Grove Bowl on April 13. It should provide some foreshadowing for summer competition.