#RebsBSB Season Preview: Infield

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss opens its 2018 baseball season in 19 days when the Rebels hosts Winthrop for a three-game series Feb. 16-18. Mike Bianco's group enters the year ranked in the preseason top 10 and will want to build on a 2017 season that provided some tough but valuable learning lessons to a relatively young team that boasted 29 freshmen and sophomores headlined by an immensely talented 2016 recruiting class.

Last year, Ole Miss boasted a .970 fielding percentage and will likely want to improve on that mark as it was good for 12th in the SEC. The two biggest voids the team needs to fill are the ones left by Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles at second and third base.

Here, we take a look at what the Rebel infield could look like this season.

First Base: Nick Fortes/Cole Zabowski/Tim Elko
This position was a revolving door of sorts for the Rebels a year ago. Bianco struggled a bit to find consistent defense here for much of the year as well as offense early on. Eventually, Ole Miss found an answer here in Nick Fortes. It happened suddenly. Bianco approached Fortes two days before a late-April midweek game against Arkansas Pine-Bluff and consulted him about slipping on a first baseman's mitt. The primary reason for the move was the ability to keep Fortes' bat in the lineup thanks to his .301 average and .452 slugging mark at the time. Fortes had assumed the bulk of the catching load for the previous month due to Cooper Johnson struggling at the plate. Johnson began to hit better and is a high-level defensive stopper, so the move seemed to make sense.

Fortes made a fairly seamless transition and played the position about as well as anyone could've asked of him on such short notice. Now, he's had the fall and winter to become accustomed to the larger glove and new home. Fortes will still likely catch a decent bit to help alleviate the workload of Johnson's knees throughout the grind of a college season, leaving the opportunity for Cole Zabowski and highly-touted freshman Tim Elko to see action at first base. Zabowski started 22 games at first base for the Rebels a year ago and hit .239 with a home run and 11 RBI in 92 at bats last year. All three of these guys will likely see time here with the possibility of Chase Cockrell too. Fortes will get the bulk of the starts and will ideally add some pop to the Rebels' lineup too.

Second Base: Anthony Servideo/Ryan Olenek
Ole Miss will have to replace the likes of Tate Blackman at this middle infield spot. Blackman had been the everyday second baseman the last two seasons and his presence at the plate will be missed more so than anything else.

Servideo is a true freshman from Miami and has the ability to make an impact for the Rebels immediately. Both a shortstop and a second baseman in high school, Servideo is a speedy and talented defender that could develop into a really good combo with Grae Kessinger in the middle of the Rebel infield.

He's a speedy 6.71 runner with good hands and an accurate arm. If he hits well enough, Servideo could be a really attractive option for Ole Miss in a leadoff slot the team didn't really have a natural fit for a year ago.

"I am not really a middle of the lineup guy," Servideo said. "My role is to get hits and get on base and do my thing. Let the bigger guys drive me in."

Bianco has said more than once before that Olenek is one of the best athletes on the team. He's invaluable to the Rebels because he can be placed quite literally all across the diamond. He was a natural shortstop coming out of high school, played right field his freshman year and was an aggressive center fielder that went and got the ball for Ole Miss last season. His late-inning catch in Baton Rouge against that knifed spike marks into the wall and preserved a Friday night Ole Miss win immediately comes to mind. Ideally, Bianco would probably prefer to keep his speed and athleticism in the outfield if he can, but Olenek is a more than capable infielder if needed and his versatility will surely help this team more than once this season.

Shortstop: Grae Kessinger
This position belongs to the rising sophomore who started 53 games for Ole Miss up the middle last year. Kessinger's season ended prematurely when he broke his foot at the SEC Tournament. He is a sure-handed defender with great range and a strong arm. There were times where he made incredibly difficult plays, particularly going toward the hole to his right, look routine. He struggled some at the plate as most freshmen do when adjusting to the learning curve that comes with handling SEC pitching, but is confident he can improve on this season.

"Last year I learned a lot," Kessinger said. "One thing was to be consistent and aggressive with your swing and in your approach. As long as you're swinging like that good things will happen."

Kessinger only struck out 30 times in 154 at bats. He was a good contact hitter, put the ball in play and at times just got unlucky. He had a .202 average on balls he put in play.

He says his foot feels completely healthy and returned to baseball-related activities by the end of the summer.

With the way he hit to contact and a year's serving of SEC pitching under his belt, most signs would point to the Rebels' infield anchor taking it to another level at the plate this season.

Third Base: Tyler Keenan/Tim Elko
Here lies the second hole Ole Miss must fill off last year's team. Senior captain Colby Bortles departed and took 10 home runs, 42 RBI and a .482 slugging percentage with him. Bortles was also a sneakily good defender even with his larger frame, especially on balls in foul territory. Bortles was a solid option at third base for Bianco the last two seasons.

A couple of guys could be tasked with replacing him, the first being Tyler Keenan. The true freshman played third, first, catcher and outfield and was ranked as the number one third baseman in the state of North Carolina out of high school. He's like Bortles in the sense that he shows pretty good range and athleticism even with a 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame. He's a left-handed hitter that possesses good power and could add some balance to a right-hand heavy Ole Miss lineup. Keenan had a strong fall and will certainly get a hard look at being the Rebels' primary guy at the hot corner.

Elko could also see time here. He's another large frame at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds with power and the ability to hit the baseball to the opposite field. Elko tallied 117 hits and 93 RBI in his high school career and has the chance to find his way into the lineup in some form consistently if he can produce at the plate.

Catcher: Cooper Johnson/Nick Fortes
One of the more interesting storylines of the 2017 season was the evolution of catcher Cooper Johnson. The rising sophomore entered his first college season with an incredibly strong arm, quick pop time and a sense of maturity that disguised the fact he was just an 18-year-old freshman. The defense was never a question with Johnson. He was an athletic defensive stopper that threw out 17 runners and made opponents think carefully whether they wanted to run on Ole Miss.

But Johnson hit a brutal 7-for-51 slump at the plate to begin his college career and began to see his time behind the plate shrink in favor of the more consistent bat in Nick Fortes. He spent a couple of weeks out of the lineup in early April and retooled his approach at the plate. The uncanny maturity he possesses showed during that time and Johnson worked his way back into the lineup during the last month and a half of the season. He recorded a hit in 12 of his final 17 games and raised his average as high as .218, a remarkable feat considering the averaged absorbed such a slow start. Johnson was a core piece of the 2016 recruiting class and his early struggle at the plate was really just a natural part of being a freshman with a significant role on an SEC ball club. Johnson turned it around quicker that most in his shoes would've been able to do.

As mentioned earlier, Fortes will also catch a decent bit to alleviate the stress on Johnson that comes with a 60-game season. But Johnson will surely be a solid and improved hitter in Ole Miss' everyday lineup this season.

Football Welcomes 11 Mid-Year Enrollees

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


2018 Spring Full Roster

Ole Miss had a total of 11 January enrollees that have begun taking classes and will participate in spring football practice.

Six of these players signed during the early singing period and moved to Oxford a month later. The other five are mid-year walk-ons.

Jacob Carter
James Coley
Jack Cooper
Matt Corral
Vernon Dasher
Ryan Drew
DeMarcus Gregory
John Lewis
Hal Northern
Scott Phillips
Isaiah Woullard

The group is headlined by Army All-American quarterback Matt Corral, who will get a head start in learning Phil Longo's and will have the opportunity to observe Jordan Ta'amu next fall. He's joined by wide receiver DeMarcus Gregory out of Duncan, S.C.

Vernon Dasher is an impact player at linebacker, a position of great need for the Rebels and Hal Northern is a physical interior defensive lineman that coaching staff is excited about.

Ole Miss opens the season next fall in Houston against Texas Tech.

SIDE NOTE: A few returning Rebels will sport new numbers this spring. Victor Evans (4), Mohamed Sanogo (7), Austrian Robinson (12) and Zikerrion Baker (14) all have switched jersey numbers.

FRESH FACES: Softball's Amanda Roth

| No TrackBacks

Amanda Roth_CROP.jpg

In the fifth of a 10-part series introducing the Ole Miss softball newcomers for the 2018 season, Friday's profile features third baseman Amanda Roth.

Amanda Roth | 3B | R/R | 5-7 | Fr. | Carrollton,Texas (Hebron HS)

What made you choose Ole Miss?
I loved the southern charm that the campus had to offer and I really liked and respected the coaching staff.
What do you like most about Ole Miss and Oxford?
I love the beauty that is in Oxford, especially the Square. There's also so many trails and areas for you to go explore and hike around Oxford to enjoy the outdoors.
What is your favorite part about being an athlete at Ole Miss?
I love being able to say I'm a student athlete because people understand the hard work that goes into being both. The traditions and successes of Ole Miss athletics make me very proud to represent the school. And I also love all the perks and clothes we get!
What is your favorite Ole Miss tradition?
The football games and the celebrations in The Grove!! Getting all dressed up and tailgating and cheering on the Rebs is so much fun!
Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
I have to listen to some hype music to get excited and focused for the game.

Quick Hits...
Pick anywhere in the world to vacation, where would you go? Bora Bora.
What is your go-to hangout place? Anywhere outside when it's a nice day out.
Team you're looking most forward to playing on the 2018 schedule? Alabama.
What is your dream profession/career? Lawyer.

Movie: Moana
Band/Music group: Maroon 5
TV Show: Once Upon a Time
Actress/Actor: Jennifer Lawrence
Snack Food: Veggie Straws
Ice cream flavor: Cookies and cream or chocolate
Candy bar: Reese's
Fruit: Apples
Cereal: Strawberry Special K
Home cooked meal: Chicken and veggies
Fast food restaurant: Chipotle
Soda: I don't really drink soda
Place to eat in Oxford: Toyo
Female athlete: Serena Williams
Male athlete: David Beckham
Professional team: Texas Rangers
Animal: Panda
Holiday: Christmas

FRESH FACES: Softball's Izzy Werdann

| No TrackBacks

Izzy Werdann_CROP.jpg

In the fourth of a 10-part series introducing the Ole Miss softball newcomers for the 2018 season, Thursday's profile features catcher/third baseman Izzy Werdann.

Izzy Werdann | C/3B | R/R | 5-7 | Jr. | Pensacola, Fla. (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC)

What made you choose Ole Miss?
The area, coaches, facilities and top-class education!
What do you like most about Ole Miss and Oxford?
The scenery! Especially during the fall!
What is your favorite part about being an athlete at Ole Miss?
All the shoes.
What is your favorite Ole Miss tradition?
The Hotty Toddy Chant.
Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?

Quick Hits...
Pick anywhere in the world to vacation, where would you go? Europe! Paris, London, Venice.
What is your go-to hangout place? Mexican restaurant.
Team you're looking most forward to playing on the 2018 schedule? All the SEC schools!
What is your dream profession/career? Softball coach (to make a difference in the lives of the next generation of athletes).

Movie: White House Down
Band/Music group: Grace Vanderwal
TV Show: Grey's Anatomy
Actress/Actor: Blake Lively
Snack Food: French fries and ranch
Ice cream flavor: Vanilla bean with caramel
Candy bar: Tropical Starbust
Fruit: Banana
Cereal: Lucky Charms
Home cooked meal: Pretzel bread chicken nuggets
Fast food restaurant: Chik-Fil-A
Soda: Not a soda drinker
Place to eat in Oxford: Old Venice
Female athlete: Simone Biles
Male athlete: Kris Bryant
Professional team: Chicago Cubs
Animal: Monkey
Holiday: Christmas

Rebels Aiming to Break Through On The Road

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Ole Miss has been strong on serve in the sense that it is 4-0 at home in SEC play so far this season. 
Inside the confines of The Pavilion, the Rebels have flipped the script from three overtime losses in the non-conference season and have become a tough team to beat at home. The evidence of that is in the Rebels' wins over the likes of Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. 
But it has been a different story in the five true road games the team has played this season, in which it is 0-5 (0-4 in league games). Andy Kennedy has made no bones about it. In order for Ole Miss to get where it wants to go come postseason time in March, the Rebels are going to have to break through on the road. At 11-9 (4-4 SEC), the Rebels need more feathers in their cap if they want to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The conference itself is helping them out in that regard.
"The great thing about this league this year is that it provides a lot of opportunities," Kennedy said. "We have a lot of opportunities ahead of us, starting this Saturday."
The Rebels travel to Texas on Saturday to participate in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.  The Longhorns sit in a similar slot to Ole Miss with a 13-7 (4-4 Big 12) record plopped in the middle of the crowded Big 12 standings, a conference that has been tough from top to bottom just like the SEC. 
The Rebels have been close to breaking through on the road and it is pretty clear they're playing much better basketball than they were a month ago. Ole Miss was a Breein Tyree three-ball that was spat out halfway inside the rim away from winning at Texas A&M last Tuesday, and were within two points in the final minute at Arkansas after surviving a brutal storm of shooting.  Kennedy sees them getting closer and knows his team is playing better. 
"The way we played against Florida gave us a lot of momentum going to Texas A&M, and we had a chance," Kennedy said. "We knew Arkansas would be tough because their backs should be against the wall because they had lost a couple in a row. They shot lights out. For us to even be in that game, I was a little surprised because they scored 97 points, shot 55 percent from the floor."
Ole Miss never held a lead in the second half in Fayetteville, but were right on the doorstep the entire time.
"We cut it to two and just could not make the play," Kennedy said. "At home, we have been fortunate enough to do that."
So what is it going to take to find tangible success on the road?
"Defense," senior guard Deandre Burnett said. "At home, they're (opponents) shooting under 40 percent from the field and on the road they're shooting 48 percent. Obviously, you can't go on the road and beat a team shooting 48 percent. That is what will be key."
To back up Burnett's assertion, the Rebels have given up an average of 80 points per game in its five true road games compared to under 73 in all others. Burnett thinks that can change if the team is able to throw the first blow instead of absorbing one.
"It's our energy, coming out fast off the jump," Burnett said. "Being able to take a punch and punch back. Credit to them, the teams we have played on the road have been good teams, but in those games, we are right there."
What has surprised Kennedy about his team's struggles on the road is perhaps the very thing that gives him hope they'll be able to break through.
"Every season you go into it thinking this team will be good at this or whatever it may be," Kennedy said. "What has been surprising to me is the fact that we have not been better on the road. We have been better but not good enough to win. Because we do have experienced guards, typically if you have experienced guards, those are the guys that help you sustain the same level of competitiveness that you have at home."
Kennedy plays give guards in his rotation in Burnett, Breein Tyree, Devontae Shuler, Terence Davis and Markel Crawford. Burnett and Crawford are fifth-year seniors. Davis is in his junior season and Tyree has been through the rigors of an SEC season one time before. This group is the core of this team and the experience is there.  Ole Miss is a top 30 team in the country in terms of fewest turnovers at just 11 per game. 
"My message will continue to be to challenge the upperclassmen to lead us," Kennedy said. "To find a way to take the next step in our team's maturation."
The production has also been there of late. The guards combined for 63 points in Tuesday's win over Alabama with Burnett leading the way with 24. Terence Davis dropped 30 points on Arkansas after a bit of a slump, and the last two weeks and a half weeks have been the best Tyree has played all season. 
"Our four veterans, if all four of them play well then we are pretty good basketball team," Kennedy said.

Ole Miss has been close and things are trending in a positive direction. Saturday will be another test in Austin, will this be where the Rebels finally break through?

"We know what this team can do," Burnett said. "And we are more than capable of doing it."

FRESH FACES: Softball's Celeste Wood

| No TrackBacks
Celeste Wood_CROP.jpg

In the third of a 10-part series introducing the Ole Miss softball newcomers for the 2018 season, Wednesday's profile features outfielder player Celeste Wood.

Celeste Wood | OF | R/R | 5-11 | Jr. | Hacienda Heights, Calif. (Michigan State)

What made you choose Ole Miss?
The beautiful campus, quality academics program and great coaching staff.
What do you like most about Ole Miss and Oxford?
The university's traditions and the southern hospitality.
What is your favorite part about being an athlete at Ole Miss?
The friendships and relationships that I have developed.
What is your favorite Ole Miss tradition?
Football tailgates at The Grove.
Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
No, none.

Quick Hits...
Pick anywhere in the world to vacation, where would you go? Hawaii
What is your go-to hangout place? In Oxford: A friend's apartment, in my hometown: Venice Beach
Team you're looking most forward to playing on the 2018 schedule? Alabama
What is your dream profession/career? Music producer

Movie: Step Brothers
Band/Music group: Migos
TV Show: The Office
Actress/Actor: Jennifer Lawrence
Snack Food: Yogurt
Ice cream flavor: Mint N' Chip
Candy bar: Dove chocolate bar
Fruit: oranges
Cereal: Cocoa Pebbles
Home cooked meal: Lasagna with garlic bread
Fast food restaurant: Wing Stop
Soda: Dr. Pepper
Place to eat in Oxford: Ajax
Female athlete: Ronda Rousey
Male athlete: Odelle Beckham Jr.
Professional team: LA Dodgers
Animal: Dogs
Holiday: Thanksgiving

FRESH FACES: Softball's Ally Mena

| No TrackBacks

Ally Mena_CROP.jpg

In the second of a 10-part series introducing the Ole Miss softball newcomers for the 2018 season, Tuesday's profile features utility player Ally Mena.

Ally Mena | UT | R/R | 5-7 | Fr. | Miami, Fla. (Westminster Christian School)

What made you choose Ole Miss?
I loved the traditions of the school and how it is like a family as well as the coaches and everyone on the team.
What do you like most about Ole Miss and Oxford?
I like how it is like a family here.
What is your favorite part about being an athlete at Ole Miss?
Being able to travel to cool places.
What is your favorite Ole Miss tradition?
The Grove.
Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
I draw a cross in the dirt before I get into the box.

Quick Hits...
Pick anywhere in the world to vacation, where would you go? Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
What is your go-to hangout place? Friend's house
Team you're looking most forward to playing on the 2018 schedule? LSU
What is your dream profession/career? Plastic surgeon

Movie: My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Band/Music group: Fifth Harmony
TV Show: Spongebob
Actress/Actor: Jennifer Lawrence
Snack Food: Popcorn
Ice cream flavor: Chocolate
Candy bar: Kit Kat
Fruit: Strawberries
Cereal: Lucky Charms
Home cooked meal: Chicken with rice and beans
Fast food restaurant: McDonalds
Soda: Sprite
Place to eat in Oxford: Cookout
Female athlete: Sierra Romero
Male athlete: Giancarlo Stanton
Professional team: Miami Marlins
Animal: Dogs
Holiday: Christmas

FRESH FACES: Softball's Autumn Gillespie

| No TrackBacks

Thumbnail image for Autumn Gillespie_CROP.jpg

In the first of a 10-part series introducing the Ole Miss softball newcomers for the 2018 season, Monday's profile features catcher Autumn Gillespie.

Autumn Gillespie | C | R/R | 6-1 | R-So. | Redlands, Calif. (UCF)

What made you choose Ole Miss?
The amazing atmosphere, respectable coaching staff, and loyal fans.

What do you like most about Ole Miss and Oxford?
That it's a college town, and all of the residents of Oxford love and support Ole Miss.

What is your favorite part about being an athlete at Ole Miss?
Getting to be a member of the SEC and have a very real opportunity to compete at championship levels. Also, the athlete community is like a family and all sports support each other.

What is your favorite Ole Miss tradition?
I love tailgating in the grove before football games.

Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
I don't have any rituals, but I like to keep it light, listen to music and just try to relax and focus on the game.

Quick Hits...
Pick anywhere in the world to vacation, where would you go?
The Dominican Republic
What is your go-to hangout place?
Hanging out on the Square or just going to friends' houses
Team you're looking most forward to playing on the 2017 schedule?
Any SEC team
What is your dream profession/career?
College softball coach

Movie: Anything scary
Band/Music group: Migos
TV Show: Friends
Actress/Actor: None
Snack Food: Chips and guac
Ice cream flavor: Cookies & cream
Candy bar: Twix
Fruit: Strawberries
Cereal: None
Home cooked meal: Steak and potatoes
Fast food restaurant: Chipotle
Soda: None, sweet tea
Place to eat in Oxford: Boure, Oxford Grill House
Female athlete: Stacy Chambers
Male athlete: None
Professional team: Dallas Cowboys
Animal: Dogs
Holiday: Thanksgiving

A Closer Look: Special Teams

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Top Performers: Gary Wunderlich (17-21 FG made. Long of 49), Jaylon Jones (31 kick returns, 25 yards per return, one TD)

Returning in 2018: Luke Logan (So., 1L), (Isaac Way., SQ), Patrick Nasiakta (So., SQ), Jack Propst (So., 1L), Cole Becker (Fr., RS), Kamden Darney (Jr., SQ)

Newcomers in 2018: TBD

Losing from 2017 Team: Gary Wunderlich (graduation), Will Gleeson (graduation)

Looking back at 2017: The Ole Miss special teams was pretty solid on most fronts in 2017. Senior Gary Wunderlich made 17-of-21 field goal attempts, a feat even more impressive considering he battled a nagging groin injury for much of the year. Luke Logan went 2-for-3 in his absence. Wunderlich further cemented his legacy as one of the greatest kickers to play at Ole Miss. He was 64-of-77 for his career and is the all-time leading scorer in program history.

Will Gleeson averaged over 41 yards per punt and had three punts of over 50 yards. The Rebels returned just seven punts on the season for an average of 6.7 yards and Jaylon Jones took a kickoff return 97 yards for a score in the season opener against South Alabama. The Rebels weren't overly dynamic in the returning game, but were really good in all three phases of the kicking game. The task next season will be replacing two of the better specialists the team has had in recent memory in Gleeson and Wunderlich.

Looking ahead to 2018: Ole Miss' biggest challenge next season with regards to special teams will be replacing the likes of Gary Wunderlich and Will Gleeson. Wunderlich was one of the most accurate kickers in program history, and in a world of shaky college kickers, was a tremendous asset to the Rebels the last four years because of his consistency, particularly late in games. The most likely candidate to replace Wunderlich is Luke Logan, who made 2-of-3 field goals when Wunderlich was injured with a long of 25 yards. The rising sophomore will also likely retain kickoff duties. Last season he had 25 touchbacks in 76 attempts.

Gleeson also departs after a season in which he averaged 41.5 yards per kick. His likely successor will be sophomore Mac Brown who got his feet wet last season with five punts for a total of 211 yards. That is good for 42.2 yards per kick and his long was 54. It is a small sample size, but that will likely make the coaching staff feel a little bit better about the punting situation going into next season.

Jaylon Jones returns and will presumably handle the kickoff duties once again. A guy to look out for on both punt and kickoff returns is newcomer Elijah Moore. The speedy slot receiver flipped from Georgia to Ole Miss during the early signing period and Matt Luke noted his speed will be a unique weapon the Rebels have not had in a while both in the slot and as a punt returner. How Moore will impact the team as a freshman will get clearer during fall camp, but he's certainly an intriguing guy to keep an eye on.

A Closer Look:
- Running Backs (Jan. 8)
- Quarterbacks (Jan. 9)
- Wide Receivers (Jan. 10)
- Tight Ends (Jan. 11)
- Offensive Line (Jan. 15)
- Defensive Line (Jan. 16)
- Linebackers (Jan. 17)
- Cornerbacks (Jan. 18)
- Safeties (Jan. 19)
- Special Teams (Jan. 22)

A Closer Look: Safeties

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Top Performers: Zedrick Woods (64 tackles, four break ups, four deflections) C.J. Moore (51 tackles, three interceptions) 

Returning in 2018: Zedrick Woods (Sr., 3L) Jaylon Jones (Jr., 2L), Cam Ordway (Sr., 3L), C.J. Moore (Sr., 3L), Armani Linton (Jr., 2L), A.J. Harris (Fr., RS), C.J Miller (So., 1L)

Newcomers in 2018: Cameron White (Fr., Madison Miss.)

Losing from 2017 Team: A.J. Moore (Graduation), C.J. Hampton (Graduation)

Looking back at 2017: If last year proved anything, it is that Zedrick Woods is the backbone of the Ole Miss secondary as a whole. The junior had four pass break ups, four deflections and 64 tackles on the season. Three of Ole Miss' top six tacklers in 2017 were safeties and four ranked amongst the top 10. C.J. Moore was right behind woods with 51 and three interceptions. This was overall a pretty solid group on the back end of the Rebels' defense. This unit helped hold opponents to 214 yards passing per game and just seven yards per attempt, meaning it was a little harder to hit receivers over the top of this secondary.

Jaylon Jones made a seamless transition from corner to safety, recording 34 tackles and a pair of break ups and deflections. The good news for the Rebels is that the majority of this group returns in 2018 to help solidify what should be a competitive pass defense with the entire two deep on the depth chart returning at cornerback.

Looking ahead to 2018: The loss of A.J. Moore at the star safety position definitely hurts Ole Miss, but outside of that they should feel pretty good with what they have returning in 2017. Woods, C.J. Moore and Jones should be a pretty formidable trio and the team also returns Cam Ordway. C.J. Miller is a young player the coaching staff is really high on and a guy that is expected to be right in the thick of the rotation going into fall camp.

The Rebels have the offseason to find a replacement for A.J. Moore and have a couple of solid options to do so. Miller will be the most interesting guy to keep an eye on throughout the spring and into fall camp, but Wesley McGriff and the defensive staff have to feel pretty confident in what they have coming back next season.

A Closer Look:
- Running Backs (Jan. 8)
- Quarterbacks (Jan. 9)
- Wide Receivers (Jan. 10)
- Tight Ends (Jan. 11)
- Offensive Line (Jan. 15)
- Defensive Line (Jan. 16)
- Linebackers (Jan. 17)
- Cornerbacks (Jan. 18)
- Safeties (Jan. 19)
- Special Teams (Jan. 22)

Subscribe and Share


Recent Comments

    Tiffany J. Moore said:

    This is amazing with what he have done so far! Hope that he'll achieve more in the future!

    in post Evan Engram Hauls in Midseason Accolades

    Fiftyyears fan said:

    How can you have five straight top 25 recruiting classes and look as bad as Ole Miss has this year. Easy lack of coaching fundamentals. Look at Mason at Vandy, nothing but 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and he developers players that want to win. Hugh freeze has 3, 4 & 5 recruits and he expects them to win because of what they were in High School. Mr. Freeze you have not been teaching the fundamentals of football or winning in life. Mr. Freeze you have quit on your players because you have some false expectations of what they are instead of what you can develop in them. Either do your job or quit. Oh yea, please quit running your smoke and mirrors offense, everyone has figured it out. Run a physical offense that can open up holes for your running backs and then your pass attack want require 12 are 14 four and five star receivers. Mr. Freeze you have problems and you need to know that you are not smarter than the rest of the coaches in the SEC.

    in post Rebels Unable to Send Senior Class Out on a High Note

    Karen Holden said:

    Not every pass can be caught. Too low, too short whatever. Not every Kelly pass is perfect. Records were broken by receivers also. But they sre not going to catch every ball thrown. The loss to Auburn was not one players fault. You win or lose as a team.

    in post Late Mistake Spoils Chad Kelly's Historic Performance

    Trent browning said:

    Hey I was just wandering if these are the only 2 olemiss players signing. If there are more signing please respond to me ASAP. Also wondering if neil everett will sign any autographs. Thank you very much

    in post Heisman House Tour Heads to Oxford for Ole Miss-Georgia

    Smithb733 said:

    I like what you guys are up too. Such smart work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my site

    in post Madden 17 Ratings for Former Rebels

    Jamie laverty said:

    Bulmer I love you and ole Miss

    in post Fast Runner From Down Under

    Sharon Hamlin said:

    Hi! Really Bulmer is very fantastic & dedicated in his job. Really outstanding & well done... :-)

    in post Fast Runner From Down Under

    Sharon Hamlin said:

    Hi! Really motivating post & outstanding job did Bulmer .Loved it... :-)

    in post Fast Runner From Down Under