March 7, 2008

Sanford looks forwards to first practices

With an entirely new coaching staff in Oxford, new relationships would need to be built and impressions had to be made.

Ole Miss safety Jamarca Sanford, a leader on last year's defense, didn't make the best impression back in late January, two months prior to his first practice under head coach Houston Nutt.

Sanford was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for failing to leave a parking lot after being repeated requests to do so.

Player and coach met on the situation.

"We discussed it," Sanford said. "He did what he had to do to discipline me."

Sanford's ready to move on and start making a different impression with the start of spring practice on March 19.

"They can look at film and see how I played, but I have to show them what I can do," Sanford said. "They don't know too much about me, and I don't know too much about them.

"We have to build a relationship, and I have to go back out and prove to them what I can do."

And while Sanford's always fashioned himself as a hard worker, there's a little more on the line this time around.

"I feel like I've always worked hard," he said. "But you have this thought that this is your last go around, and you need to make it your best.

"As a sophomore or a junior, you always have another year to improve."

But Sanford's running out of time, and he said learning a new defense hasn't been too much of a setback.

In addition to new terminology, Sanford said the coaches have asked the Rebel safeties to learn both strong safety and free safety positions.

"It's a big difference from last year. This year, you really have to know what you're doing," Sanford said. "Last year was simple. This year, you have to know the offense and what they're about to do. You have to know formations.

"Wherever you line up, you can play."

The new staff has also placed an emphasis on bursts of quickness, and Sanford's already seen results.

"We're working on explosion and speed. We're doing a lot more conditioning than we we're used to doing," he said. "You've got to be in shape for all four quarters. You have to be ready.

"I feel different in my hips. I can come out of my breaks a little faster. I just feel looser."

And he feels excited - excited to work with the new staff and excited about getting back on the field.

"I feel like it'll be tough, but at the same time it'll be fun," Sanford said. They have to do their job. We'll mess up on an assignment, and they'll be tough on us. But at the same time, we'll be having fun with them.

"I expect a lot of fun. It's just playing football, going out and having fun and learning the system - going out and competing with the team."


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