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August 21, 2012
OXFORD, Miss. -- Heralded freshman defensive end Channing Ward practiced Tuesday, his first true practice since gaining clearance from the NCAA Clearinghouse on Friday afternoon.
Ward, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said, was "swimming" mentally during the practice, but it was impressive-looking confusion.
"He looks good in a suit," Freeze said with a laugh. "He looks the part. He's in decent shape, but he just doesn't know what he's doing yet. How far we can bring him in a short amount of time, I don't know, but I know (defensive line coach Chris) Kiffin and our defensive staff are working hard to see how much he can retain in a short amount of time. We're glad he's out here and certainly, he's going to be a valuable asset to us."
KIFFIN GETTING GUYS READY: Tuesday was a good day for Kiffin.
In addition to Ward working out with the Rebels for the first time in pads, Uriah Grant practiced full speed for the first time this fall.
Grant could find a spot in the two-deep very quickly. He stayed in top condition despite the injury and played well on his first day.
"He looked good, but we have to check the film obviously," Kiffin said. "(Grant) has great feet. That's what we've noticed the last couple weeks, and he knows the defense inside and out. That's been really pleasant. He's been in meetings, and when you ask a question, he knows all the answers. There's going to be no issue to get caught up."
Despite missing fall camp, Grant is at the top of Kiffin's plans.
"I plan on him being there," Kiffin said. "We're going to get a great feel the next 10 days, but he's going to be playing a lot We're planning on playing him a lot."
Ward certainly looks the part and can help in spots, but he's new to the mental side of the game at this level. He's going to play, but in what situations isn't known yet.
"The best thing about him is his physical makeup because he's a specimen out there," Kiffin said. "It's going to take some work to get him caught up. Obviously he has the skills and assets to be a great player, but the learning curve of it to have 13 days before game day is tough on him.
"We're going to see how the learning curve goes. I'm going to try my hardest to get him ready for everything, but we can always put a package in for him. He can definitely be a pass rusher, and if on third down we have to limit what we do, we'll determine that in the next two weeks when we see how he picks it up."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Justin Bell and Patrick Junen stood out on film when the coaches reviewed Saturday's scrimmage. So did Aaron Morris, I'Tavius Mathers, Jaylen Walton, Ralph Williams and Louis Covington.
For the second straight scrimmage, Bo Wallace graded out ahead of Barry Brunetti.
Freeze said he'll watch both quarterbacks this week to see how quickly they adapt to a gameplan.
"I thought they made some good reads today," Freeze said.
Freeze continued to maintain both quarterbacks will play in the first two games of the season, the Sept. 1 opener against Central Arkansas and the Sept. 8 date against Texas-El Paso (both in Oxford).
"We'll decide next week who's going to start the game," Freeze said. "I'm still dead-set that both will play. We've got our mind set that those first two games we're going to see both of them. We'll see who has the most production in the drives and kind of go from there."
BIG ROLE FOR GROSS: Freshman Issac Gross continues to impress in the preseason, and Freeze said Tuesday the defensive tackle will play "a lot" in his first year removed from South Panola High School.
"He's so quick in what we do," Freeze said. "He's explosive and loves to compete."
REBEL RUMBLINGS: Cornerback Cliff Coleman (knee) did not practice Tuesday, and Freeze said the sophomore has a bone bruise he's nursing as well. Cornerback Wesley Pendleton's injured knee is getting better, Freeze said, but the senior missed Tuesday's work with the flu. Freeze said he expected both players, along with safety Charles Sawyer (quadriceps) return to the practice field "trying to go" next week.
Ole Miss NEWS