Ole Miss Football Begins Voluntary Workouts Today: So What's Next?

Nate Gabler

Ole Miss football players began arriving at campus in Oxford over the course of the past week.

Today, Monday June 8, players around the Southeastern Conference will be able to begin taking part in voluntary offseason workouts in facilities. 

So, yes, we're one step close to football in the fall and a standard start to the season with a Baylor opener in September. But the remainder of the offseason is going to look quite different and is still a little bit up in the air. 

Let's answer some major questions about these workouts. 

Question 1: What exactly are voluntary workouts?

It's exactly what it means by the sake of the word. Technically, teams can't dictate players to be in facilities and technically there can be no punishment for not attending. But we all know how this works and we all know if you have any intent on getting playing time, you damn sure better be at the Manning Center for voluntary workouts. 

One common misconception is that voluntary means that players are on their own and won't be working with any coaches whatsoever. That isn't entirely true. 

No on-field coaches can interact with players during workouts, however members of the strength staff are allowed (and honestly expected) to supervise workouts.

Question 2: When will voluntary workouts turn into real practices?

We still don't totally know the answer to this, but we have a solid idea. 

There's a good chance, based on an NCAA proposal, that teams are going to get more time than just their standard early fall training camp with their teams. An NFL-style OTA (organized team activities) model has been thrown around. Under this proposal, Ole Miss would start their OTAs in mid-to-late July before transitioning into the standard camp in August. 

This proposal would give Lane Kiffin and staff a bit more time with players, something he's been pushing since they lost spring ball due to COVID-19.

"There's a lot of (challenges), and it's maximized with the coronavirus. To have no spring ball, it's very difficult," Kiffin said in a recent Q&A. "In general, the first year is just learning your roster and your staff. The staffs are so big these days, it used to just be a couple coaches and a GA. Now it's 10 coaches, four GA's and all sorts of what we call outfield coaches."

Question 3: If the OTA model is passed, how does that differ from voluntary workouts and from training camp?

According to the standard NFL OTA model, teams are allowed ten OTA days. You can use no more than four-straight days of practice and no weekend practices are allowed. Practices are limited to four hours per day.

So the big difference is that Kiffin and on-field staff can work directly with players for 40 hours during OTAs, something they won't get during voluntary time. 

The differences between that and camp come in live contact. No live contact is allowed during OTAs and there can't be any one-on-one offense vs defense drills. Team drills are allowed as long as there is no live contact.

Question 4: How much will you hear about what's going on in voluntary workouts?

You won't hear much at all. Honestly, I won't hear too much at all. 

By NCAA rules, there can't be any photos, videos or any promotion of student-athletes engaging in voluntary workouts. From a media perspective, that means very little to no coverage of the voluntary work. That also means you'll see next to nothing on the Ole Miss social media accounts.

Head strength coach Wilson Love will be able to provide some statements about practices from time to time, but that's about all you can expect to see on a weekly basis. 

For now, we wait and see on OTA dates and rulings. For now, we're still waiting and seeing what football looks like as a whole. But voluntary workouts beginning provides a sense of positivity and a step in the right direction. 

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