Nutt targets younger players in scrimmage

August, 15, 2009
8/15/09
3:47
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss is putting in new Field Turf at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which will be ready for the Sept. 19 home opener against Southeastern Louisiana, so Saturday afternoon's scrimmage will be held on the practice fields.

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said the scrimmage will be geared toward the younger players. He has a pretty good idea of what the veterans can do and doesn't want to take a lot of chances with them.

The Rebels have 22 seniors on this team and return nine offensive players and nine defensive players who started in multiple games a year ago. That doesn't even include senior defensive end Greg Hardy, who had 8.5 sacks in nine games and didn't make any starts.

Already, several true freshmen have caught Nutt's eye. In particular, receiver Pat Patterson, receiver/defensive back Jesse Grandy, running back Tim Simon, offensive tackle Bobby Massie and linebackers Joel Kight and D.T. Shackelford have made a strong push to play and contribute this season.

It's obvious in talking with Nutt that the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Patterson is going to be a big part of the Rebels' receiver rotation. Patterson was one of the top prospects in the state of Mississippi last year. His athleticism has been hard to miss through the first part of preseason camp.

"There's no question he'll be in the rotation," Nutt said. "He's a big-bodied guy with great hands. He's made a play a day where somebody goes, 'Whoa!' "

Nutt said Patterson's hands are huge, joking that he wears Triple X gloves and "his fingers are still coming out of them."

While the 6-foot-7, 345-pound Massie probably won't be the starting left tackle when the season begins, he's too talented to sit for long. Plus, the Rebels' lack of depth on the offensive line is Nutt's greatest concern.

For now, sophomore Bradley Sowell is working as the starting left tackle, but look for Massie to eventually show up somewhere in the rotation this season.

"The thing that gives him a chance is that, one, it's not like he's a true freshman. He's a little older," Nutt said of Massie, who attended prep school. " He's also 6-foot-7 and has length and can get some ties without knowing anything. What's getting him right now is the new terminology, the snap count, people moving so fast. It's a different game."

Speaking of true freshmen with hype, Nutt said sophomore Enrique Davis has looked good during this camp, although it's pretty clear that Brandon Bolden is the Rebels' starting running back at this point. Davis came in with all sorts of credentials last year as a freshman, but ended up buried on the depth chart.

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