Ole Miss held its media day on Thursday in the Manning Center ahead of fall camp beginning on Friday morning. Head coach Matt Luke updated injuries and assessed his team’s offseason as the Rebels ride into year two of the Luke era with a young offense, two new coordinators and a veteran defense looking to rectify its justifiably poor reputation.
Here are some quick hits from Luke’s presser:
— The team announced on Monday that senior left tackle Alex Givens had lower back surgery on July 18 to repair an ailment he suffered in late June. Givens will be limited throughout fall camp and the hope is that he will be ready for the season opener at Memphis.
“We looked at a bunch of different options and decide to go ahead and have the surgery,” Luke said. “That was the quickest way to get him back on the field.”
The loss is a significant one as Givens is undoubtedly the most battle tested member of what has become a young offensive line unit, particularly on the back end of the two deep depth chart. Redshirt freshman Hamilton Hall is listed as Givens’ back up at right tackle. Converted tight end Michael Howard, the second team left tackle, is also an option to step in in Givens’ place as is starting left guard Royce Newman if needed.
— This young offensive line has been at the epicenter of the pool of questions Luke has fielded throughout the offseason. The Rebels welcome seven freshmen on the offensive line that did not participate in spring football. With the lack of depth Ole Miss has up front, a couple of those newcomers are going to thrust into action, ready or not. Springfield, Illinois native Nick Broeker is a name Luke has uttered a couple of times when discussing this subject. Broeker says he has added 12 pounds since arriving on campus and is up to 305 LBS.
“I feel like I am prepared and improved over this summer,” Broeker said. “I feel like I am prepared for this. Alex being out puts a lot more on me. I have to make sure I am getting better to provide that depth we need.”
— Freshman offensive lineman Darius Thomas has a heart condition and will not participate in fall camp. Thomas will be reevaluated in September. The staff hopes he will be able to play later on in the season.
— Senior safety Montrell Custis will be limited in fall camp as he continues from a torn ACL he suffered last September in a loss to Alabama.
— Junior corner Jaylon Jones is full go for fall camp, Luke said. Jones, who is also recovering from an ACL he suffered in the 2018 season opener against Texas Tech. Jones said he feels 100 percent and has no limitations cutting or running.
“I cannot wait to experience being back out there again doing what I love to do,” Jones said.
— John Rhys Plumlee will be working exclusively at quarterback. Luke clarified this at SEC Media Days two weeks ago. Plumlee noted this was a major factor in his recruitment and was adamant about playing quarterback in college. Some schools recruited Plumlee as a receiver, something that Plumlee said diminished his interest in those particular programs. With a quarterback room comprised of four freshmen, Plumlee has a good chance to land the backup quarterback job despite not going through spring ball. Fellow freshmen Kinkead Dent and Grant Tisdale had a leg up in that sense as both enrolled in classes in January. Plumlee is a dual-threat guy who is thought to fit well Rich Rodriguez’ run-heavy system.
— Ole Miss kicks off fall camp at 10:45 A.M. Friday morning.
PHOTO CREDIT: Joshua McCoy — Ole Miss Athletics