OXFORD Ole Miss football players, most of them, gathered at The Manning Center on Monday morning for the first day of voluntary strength and conditioning workouts.

Freshmen and newcomers are expected to report on June 15.

SEC presidents voted on May 22 to allow campus athletics facilities to reopen to athletes after having been shutdown since mid-March in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Though one straggler arrived late, whistles could be heard before 7 a.m., and most Ole Miss players could be seen through the building’s tinted glass being led through drills.

The NCAA discourages publicity of workouts that are described as voluntary, and schools have made it clear they must consider compliance issues in release of information.

Only strength and conditioning coaches are allowed contact with players during these workouts.

As the workout was cranking up on the indoor field, several Ole Miss position coaches were reporting to their adjacent offices expressing excitement to be back and hope for success with the workouts and the re-start.

Most of the new staff – including head coach Lane Kiffin – were not in Oxford for the shutdown and have only recently returned to the city.

Kiffin and senior defensive end Ryder Anderson were among the speakers on Saturday at a unity rally in the wake of the unrest following the death of George Floyd while pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer.

That event was held at the football practice field and athletes across several sports and department staff members attended.

Ole Miss players on social media expressed excitement for their return to voluntary workouts.

“Just being able to be back in Oxford again with my teammates is a blessing,” wrote Lakevias Daniel, a mid-year junior college transfer who would have gone through his first spring practice in March had it not been canceled.

“Let’s get it,” wrote linebacker Jacquez Jones.

Linebacker/end Sam Williams was ready to fast forward things.

Sunday he posted to his Twitter account, “Imma be so happy when we get pads on I might tackle Lane Kiffin.”

Players participating in voluntary workouts arrived in Oxford a week ago to begin COVID-19 testing and education on new guidelines for facilities and workouts.

Ole Miss reported last week that one player and one staff member had tested positive and began isolation. A second player tested positive in his hometown and has not yet returned to Oxford.

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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