Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2015
- Ole Miss posted a perfect 2-0 record last week with a 79-73 home win over Mississippi State and 67-47 rout of Missouri on the road Saturday.
- Trailing by as many as 13 in the second half, senior guard Jarvis Summers exploded for 22 second-half points to power the Rebels past the Bulldogs. Summers finished with 22 points, one shy of his season high, all in the second half, to go along with a game-high seven assists. He went 4-of-10 from the field and 2-of-4 from 3-point range, but he went 12-of-15 from the free-throw line.
- Ole Miss routed the Tigers on the road Saturday behind 23 points from junior guard Stefan Moody. Summers added seven assists in the win and junior guard Martavious Newby pulled down nine boards.
- Ole Miss leads the nation hitting 80.1 percent of its free throw attempts, which would also lead the NBA. The Rebels have hit 212 of their last 254 from the line (.835). If the season ended today, Ole Miss would post the second-best FT percentage by a team in SEC history trailing only Vanderbilt in 1974 (.802). The Rebels' 82.9 percent from the line in conference play would break the Commodores' 1974 record (.814).
- Junior G Stefan Moody, who leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation shooting 91.7 percent (88-of-96). Moody has made 31-straight FTs dating back to the Arkansas game, which is six free throws shy of the SEC record of 37 for consecutive free throws made in conference play held former Rebel David Rhodes.
- Head coach Andy Kennedy tied former Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury with the fourth-most wins by an SEC coach in his first nine years in the league at one school with 185.
Track & Field
- Led by superb sprinting from sophomore Jalen Miller, Ole Miss claimed three event victories, accomplished two school records and broke a significant meet record at the world-class Armory Track Invitational this weekend.
- Miller showed off his consistency and prowess in the 60 meters with more electrifying times this weekend. On Friday, he broke former Tennessee star Justin Gatlin's 2002 meet record of 6.56 when Miller clocked 6.55 in the semifinals to tie Mike Granger's all-time school record. He ranks third in the NCAA and sixth in the world with that personal-best time. Miller won Saturday's final in 6.59, despite a slow start and a slip out of the blocks. It was his sixth race of 6.60 or better this season. Only five other runners in the NCAA have run 6.60 or better at all.
- Senior Phillip Young leapt an indoor personal-best 52-8 not once but twice en route to the triple jump victory. It moves him up to No. 6 in the NCAA this year and fourth in school history.
- Sophomore Adam Aguirre tied for the high jump title with a clearance of 6-11.5.
- MJ Erb clocked a personal-best 8:07.54 in the 3,000 meters to break former All-American Barnabas Kirui's school record of 8:08.17 set in 2010. Erb placed fourth in the race, while eighth-place finisher Daniel Bulmer ran an indoor PR of 8:11.22 that ranks him third in the school record books.
- For the women, freshman Shannon Ray made the finals of the 60 meters after her semifinal time of 7.47 on Friday moved her up to ninth in school history. Fellow freshman Brooke Feldmeier had another strong run in the 800 with a time of 2:07.13 to finish third. Junior newcomer Britt Ummels did not lower her school mile record from last week, but had another solid performance with a time of 4:50.63 to place fifth.
- A portion of the Ole Miss team also traveled to Jonesboro, Arkansas, for the A-State Invitational. Jhorden Hunter claimed the 55-meter dash in 6.92 and Saga Barzowski won the mile in 5:07.71. Hunter's time of 6.92 ranks her third all-time in the school record books.
- The Rebels are 14-8, 4-5 SEC after dropping their last four games. The four-game losing streak is the longest of the season for Ole Miss. Ole Miss is looking for its first winning record since 2009-10 when they went 17-15 and reached the WNIT.
- Tia Faleru is making some noise in the record books. With her 20 rebounds on the week, she is now just 42 rebounds shy of 800 career rebounds. When she reached the milestone she will become one of just seven players in program history to record 1,000 points and 800 rebounds and will be the first to reach the milestone since Armintie Price who played at Ole Miss from 2003-07. Additionally, Faleru has scored in a 98 consecutive games dating back to her freshman season.
- Ole Miss, which played on Super Bowl Sunday for the 17th consecutive season and the 20th time overall, moved to 6-14 after dropping a 77-59 game to No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday. Ole Miss last won a game on Super Bowl Sunday on 2009-10 in triple overtime fashion in Baton Rouge with a 102-101 win over LSU.
- The Rebels struggled on offense against LSU, scoring just 41 points against the Tigers. Ole Miss' 41 points was a season-low and the fewest points scored in the Matt Insell era. Ole Miss is 5-8 when failing to reach 70 points, a mark they haven't reached in the last five games.
- No. 24 Ole Miss suffered its first loss of the season, dropping a 6-1 decision at No. 16 Oklahoma State Saturday.
- A bright spot in the loss, senior Julia Jones knocked off the No. 10 ranked player in straight sets to improve to 15-3 overall, 5-0 at No. 1 singles. Jones earned her ninth ranked win of the year and now has 88 career victories.
The men's basketball team found some consistency, while the women's basketball will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak, as the teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. It's also the week of National Signing Day and the beginning of the Mike Smith Era for Ole Miss softball, and opening day for Ole Miss baseball is now less than two weeks away. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:
- Throughout the season, head coach Andy Kennedy and the men's basketball team have talked about establishing some consistency, and of late, stacking wins together. Ole Miss did just that this past week, rallying to defeat Mississippi State 79-73 on Wednesday night and cruising to a 67-47 win at Missouri on Saturday afternoon. With three straight wins, it's the Rebels' first multi-game winning streak since Dec. 18-22 and their first three-game wining streak since Nov. 23-29.
- Against Mississippi State, Jarvis Summers led the way with 22 points, one shy of his season high, all in second half, including a key four-point play to effectively close out the win for Ole Miss. After going 0-of-2 from the field in nine first-half minutes, having picked up two early fouls, he finished 4-of-10 from the field, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, and 12-of-15 from the free throw line.
"When you watch Ole Miss play down the stretch, it's always Jarvis Summers making plays," said Mississippi State head coach of Summers. "He has an unbelievable ability to not get sped up or get caught up in the moment. He stays the same way throughout and that gives him an ability to make plays and be calm no matter the situation."
- Against Missouri, it was all Stefan Moody, who was the only Ole Miss player in double figures with 23 points, including a highlight-reel put-back dunk that Kennedy said not only invigorated him, but their whole team, as the Rebels outscored the Tigers 50-32 the rest of the way. Missouri got as close as 48-39 with 9:38 left, before Ole Miss answered with a 15-0 run over the next 6:31 to push the lead to 63-39 on the way to the 67-47 final.
- In addition to LaDarius White, the Rebels' third-leading scorer, who has come off the bench in 15 of their 21 games, Ole Miss has gotten lifts from Dwight Coleby, Terence Smith and Anthony Perez. The most surprising lift, if you take away his contributions last season, has been from Perez, who after scoring just 14 points in 82 minutes through the team's first 18 games, has scored 21 points in 47 minutes over the last three games.
"In the Florida game, we were really searching," said Kennedy of Perez. "Our frontcourt wasn't being as productive, and I went to him because I've seen what he can do. He was a valuable part of last year's team. He stepped up and made some plays. He led us in rebounding in 12 minutes of action, which tells me he was active. I gave him an opportunity (against Mississippi State), and he took advantage of it."
- Free throw shooting also continues to be a storyline for the men's basketball team. The nation's leader in free throw percentage (80.1 percent), which would also lead the NBA, Ole Miss has hit 212 of its last 254 from the line, including 78.4 percent (29-of-37) against Mississippi State and 86.7 percent (13-of-15) against Missouri. The Rebels are led by Moody, who leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation shooting 91.7 percent (88-of-96) from the line. He has made 31 straight free throws, six free throws shy of the SEC record for consecutive free throws made in conference play.
- As of the most recent Bracketology from ESPN's Joe Lunardi (Jan. 29) and CBS Sports' Jerry Palm (Jan. 30), Ole Miss is the next-to-last and last team in the NCAA Tournament, one of six SEC teams in the field, and another, Tennessee, is among the first four out in both projections. Ole Miss plays five of those teams, four at home, starting with a home game against Texas A&M on Wednesday night.
- The SEC, as the Associated Press' David Brandt noted, has a logjam with Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee all tied for third place in the SEC standings at 5-3, one game behind second-place Texas A&M at 6-2. John Gasaway, an ESPN Insider college basketball contributor, suggests Ole Miss could be the second-best team in the SEC behind No. 1 and lone unbeaten Kentucky. Here's Gasaway:
In Kentucky's first game of the SEC season, the Wildcats were taken to overtime in Lexington by Ole Miss. At the time, it seemed like a worrisome portent for John Calipari's top-ranked team, but here we are seven games later, and UK is the nation's only undefeated team.
For their part, the Rebels have also looked pretty good since that game at Rupp Arena. Andy Kennedy's team now boasts the league's second-best per-possession scoring margin, and in fact, Ole Miss has been especially impressive on offense.
As a 5-foot-10 junior who functions, in effect, as a 2-guard, Stefan Moody will trigger categorical confusion everywhere he goes. Then again, he's making more than half his 2s in conference play, and also shooting better than 90 percent at the line -- Kennedy probably doesn't lose any sleep over what label we give Moody.
Granted, "second-best team in the SEC" is no great tribute this season, but that may well be what's on the line this Wednesday when the Rebels host second-place Texas A&M. The close shave that Kentucky suffered at the hands of Ole Miss a few weeks back may not have been a fluke after all.
- Speaking of the SEC, it's not as bad as you think it is, writes Mike DeCourcy from the Sporting News.
- Former Ole Miss men's basketball star Marshall Henderson started a travel blog, and here's his first post, chronicling his travels and professional basketball career in Italy and Qatar and his acceptance of an offer to continue his professional basketball career in Iraq. Insightful read. Stay tuned to his Twitter account, @NativeFlash22, and his blog, The Road Most Traveled, for future updates.
- The women's basketball team has gone through a brutal five-game stretch, facing four ranked teams and another, LSU, was receiving votes, knocking off No. 18 Georgia, before dropping the next four to No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 18 Mississippi State, LSU and No. 1 South Carolina.
- As head coach Matt Insell said before, and said again Sunday, Ole Miss likely needs to get to at least eight SEC wins to garner NCAA Tournament consideration. Through nine SEC games, the Rebels are 4-5, looking at three remaining home games, possibly all against ranked teams, in their last seven regular season games.
"We had a tough stretch, but we're not going to waver," Insell said." We're not going to panic. We're going to play to the final buzzer. We know what it's going to take to get on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. We know it takes eight wins in this league to get on the bubble. That means we have to win some road games and we have to pull an upset at home."
- Tia Faleru, the Rebels' leading scorer and rebounder, has picked up two or more first-half fouls in three of the last four games, all losses for Ole Miss, and it's a concern for Insell and the Rebels going forward this season. After scoring in double figures in 16 of the first 19 games, she has scored in double figures just once in the last four games.
"We're a different team, if she's on the floor, or she's not on the floor," Insell said. "I have challenged Tia Faleru. I told her she has to step her game up and she has to be a force for us."
- South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley led the Gamecocks to a 10-18 record in her first season. It took her three season to lead them to a winning record and four seasons to lead them to an NCAA Tournament appearance, and now in year seven, she has the Gamecocks off to a 21-0 start and a No. 1 national ranking. Staley sees some similarities in what she has built at South Carolina and what Insell is building at Ole Miss, writes David Cloninger from The State.
- After being ranked No. 18 in the D1Baseball.com's preseason top 25 rankings, Tate Blackman, who's expected to be the opening day second baseman for the Rebels, was selected as the SEC Preseason Freshman of the Year by D1Baseball.com.
- In case you missed it, check out The Season: Ole Miss Baseball Day One.
- The Mike Smith Era for Ole Miss softball begins on Thursday, as the Rebels travel to Tempe, Arizona, for a four-day, six-game tournament. For Ole Miss powder blue fans, one of the new uniforms they will be wearing this season are these, which the team wore during one of the media timeouts of the men's basketball game against Mississippi State.
- As she did on the set of College GameDay nearly four months ago, pop superstar Katy Perry stole the show at the Super Bowl. A self-proclaimed Katy Perry fan, myself, I was pleased with the inclusion of the 2008 hit, "I Kissed a Girl," and then she ignited the Ole Miss fan base, dancing with Landsharks and other costumed creatures as she delivered "Teenage Dream" and "California Girls."
- Here's more on Katy Perry and her touching down in football fandom, writes Melissa Hoppert from New York Times.
- Lastly, a congratulations to former Ole Miss running back and current New England Patriot Brandon Bolden, who became the 16th Super Bowl champion in Ole Miss history. Here's my story on his wild ride, from undrafted free agent, to Super Bowl participant, and now Super Bowl champion.
Ole Miss meets Mississippi State on the hardwood the for 250th time Wednesday, which makes it the most-played rivalry in the Southeastern Conference.
Like the rivalry in football, where the road team last won in 2010, the home team has also held serve in the basketball series, with Ole Miss (12-7, 3-3 SEC) last winning in Starkville in 2009 and Mississippi State (9-10, 2-4 SEC) last winning in Oxford in 2011.
For some players, such as Aaron Jones, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White, all seniors and all Mississippi natives, it's a rivalry renewed. For others, such as leading scorer Stefan Moody, a junior college transfer, and key contributors M.J. Rhett and Terence Smith, both graduate transfers, this is their first taste of the rivalry.
"The rivalry will become pretty evident to them," said head coach Andy Kennedy of the newcomers. "They had the opportunity to see the impact of the Egg Bowl and how important that was for both schools. It's important for us, first and foremost, because it's the next game and it's a home game, and we need to make sure we match the intensity that I'm sure Mississippi State will bring to the game."
Ole Miss won two of the three meetings last year and has won three straight games in Tad Smith Coliseum against Mississippi State, but it's the Rebels' 76-72 loss in Starkville last year that serves as a reminder of the nature of the rivalry as well as a motivating factor going into Wednesday's game.
"Last year, when we lost to them, they started having a party in their locker room," junior guard Martavious Newby said. "It's like the Super Bowl to them. We're trying not to let that happen again. We're trying to beat them, so they won't do the same thing they did last year."
The game also holds importance because, as Kennedy said, it's the next game and it's a home game, and Ole Miss looks to establish some consistency and stack wins together. The Rebels have a 5-4 record over their last nine games, alternating wins and losses since, having last won back-to-back games in late December.
After a 72-71 win over Florida, Ole Miss moved up to No. 46 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA. Looking ahead, the Rebels face three potential RPI landmines in their next four games, starting at home against Mississippi State (No. 210), followed by road games at Missouri (No. 162) and Auburn (No. 146).
Sandwiched between the road games at Missouri and Auburn, Ole Miss has an RPI quality win opportunity at home against Texas A&M (No. 31). Both teams were among ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi's "first four out" in his latest bracket released Monday, with Texas A&M as the third team out and Ole Miss as the fourth team out.
"We're playing well, but we just have to be consistent," sophomore forward Dwight Coleby said. "One game we'll look like the best team, and then we'll come back and be sluggish. If we can ever be consistent, we should be good."
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
Jan. 20-26, 2015
- Senior guard Jarvis Summers scored 4 points in the final 26.6 seconds to lift Ole Miss to a 72-71 victory over Florida Saturday. Summers scored a team-high 16 points, including a jumper with 26.6 seconds left and a pair of free throw with 3.5 ticks left to give the Rebels the last-second win.
- Ole Miss leads the nation shooting 80.0 percent from the line and have hit 160 of its last 202 from the stripe. In addition to leading the nation, the Rebels would also lead the NBA in free throw percentage.
- Seven of the last nine games in the series between the Rebels and the Gators have been decided by six points or less.
- Sophomore center Dwight Coleby is averaging 9.0 points and 7.3 rebounds a game over the last four games.
- Junior guard Stefan Moody tied his career-high with 26 points and led all scorers, and sophomore forward Sebastian Saiz added nine points and 10 boards, but Ole Miss fell to Georgia 69-64 on the road Tuesday.
- The Rebels dropped a heartbreaking 64-62 game to in-state rival Mississippi State on Thursday (Jan. 22) in its lone game of the week. Ole Miss moved to 14-6, 4-3 SEC with the loss -- just its third in the last 11 games and its first loss in SEC play at Tad Smith Coliseum.
- Senior Tia Faleru posted her 10th game of double-figure rebounds with 11 rebounds against the Bulldogs. Faleru, who is leading the SEC in rebounding with 10.6 rebounds, has posted double-figure rebounds in two straight games and in seven of the last nine outings.
- Faleru is also approaching her 800th rebound and is just 62 rebounds shy of the mark. Should she reach it, she will become one of six players to score 1,000 points and grab 800 rebounds and will be the first since Armintie Price (2003-07).
- Ole Miss is approaching its 400th win at Tad Smith Coliseum and with one more win will reach the 400-win milestone. The first chance for that will come against current No. 1 South Carolina in a Sunday afternoon nationally televised contest on ESPNU on Feb. 1.
- Ole Miss won both its matches at the ITA Kick-Off in Gainesville, Florida, to advance to the National Team Indoor Final 16 Feb. 13-16 in Chicago. The Rebels are now 3-0.
- In the first round, the Rebels rallied from a 3-0 deficit to knock off No. 13 Florida 4-3. Freshman Gustav Hansson won a third-set tiebreaker at No. 3 singles to clinch the win. He finished 2-0 in singles on the weekend, as he also won his match in convincing fashion Sunday, to start the Rebels' rally against South Carolina on their way to a 4-2 win.
- The Rebels welcomed back senior Nik Scholtz and he delivered, going 3-1 in singles and doubles, including rallying on Sunday to clinch the win against South Carolina. In singles, he beat two ranked players and he teamed with freshman Zvonimir Babic for a ranked win at No. 2 doubles against Florida.
- Sophomore Ricardo Jorge stepped up big as well, winning both his matches at No. 6 singles. Against Florida, he won a huge second-set tiebreaker and went on to claim the third set to set up Gustav Hansson's match-clinching victory.
- This marks the 19th time for the Rebels to advance to the National Team Indoor Final 16.
Track & Field
- Ole Miss athletes had a record-breaking weekend in Nashville at the Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational, claiming five event victories, four facility records and two school records.
- Perhaps the star of the meet was freshman Brooke Feldmeier, who ran her first collegiate 800-meter race and clocked the No. 1 time in the NCAA and one of the best in the world so far this year with a facility-record 2:05.27. She ranks second in school history to former All-American Sofie Persson (2:04.51 in 2011).
- Senior Fabia McDonald started the weekend by breaking her own school record in the pentathlon Friday, scoring 4,057 points to rank sixth in the NCAA this year. It was her season debut and her first action since she went down with a foot injury last January.
- Junior Britt Ummels, in just her second meet with the Rebels, broke the school record in the women's mile with a 4:49.25.
- The men put on a show in several events, most notably the mile run. The Rebels finished 1-2-3-4-5 in the mile, led by sophomore Robert Domanic's facility-record 4:00.52 that ranks him No. 2 in school history and No. 3 in the NCAA. He was followed by Craig Engels (4:01.29), Daniel Bulmer (4:01.49), Trevor Gilley (4:03.58) and Wesley Gallagher (4:05.15). They now rank fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth in school history. And on this year's NCAA list, they are No. 5, No. 6, No. 13 and No. 17.
- Sophomore Jalen Miller was sensational again in the sprints, winning both the 60 (facility-record 6.58) and 200 (indoor personal-best 21.26). He has now run 6.60 or better in all four attempts over 60 meters this year. His 6.56 at Purdue ranks him No. 3 in the NCAA, while his 21.26 ranks him 23rd in the country.
- Senior Phillip Young placed top four in both the long jump (3rd, 24-9) and triple jump (4th, 51-4.5). His long jump was an indoor personal best that ranks him 12th in the nation and 11th in school history.
- No. 25 Ole Miss won a pair of matches against Jackson State, 7-0 and 4-0 to improve to 4-0 on the year.
- In their first four matches, the Rebels have only lost one individual match.
- Julia Jones won both of her matches to improve to 14-3 overall and 4-0 at No. 1 singles. She now has 87 career wins and needs just 13 to become the fifth player in program history to reach 100 for her career.
- Sophomore Alison Weisz set the school record in smallbore with a 589 at the Withrow Invitational Sunday.
- The Rebels shot season-high 2287 in smallbore, including a personal best 571 from freshman Jessica Haig.
- Haig also led the Rebels in air rifle with a personal best of 589.
Classes started on the Ole Miss campus this past week, as the men's and women's basketball teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. Some of the spring sports have started their 2015 seasons, while others are gearing up for the start of their seasons. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:
- Selection Sunday is more than a month away, but in a battle of teams on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament discussion, the Ole Miss men's basketball team downed Florida 72-71 on Saturday. Going into the matchup, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi tweeted, "The loser here is pretty much toast from an NCAA tournament perspective."
- Through six SEC games, Ole Miss is 3-3, having played six of the top eight teams from the league, according to KenPom.com. The Rebels, themselves, are the third-highest rated team (No. 34). Looking ahead, return trips at home against Arkansas and Georgia and a road game LSU loom large for the team's NCAA Tournament chances.
"It's good for our confidence," said head coach Andy Kennedy of the win. "We're not as confident of a group as I would have hoped despite some of our early wins that show we are a good basketball team. You have to be able to stack wins at this time of the year. It was obviously a vital game for us."
- Preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers proved clutch for the Rebels, scoring each of the team's last four points, the first two on a step-back jumper from just inside the 3-point line and the last two on a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left after driving into the lane.
"Coach (Kennedy) always tells me to go right," Summers said. "That's my strength. I just listened to him this game and tried to make a play."
- In a similar situation, tied 77-77 on the road at No. 1 Kentucky, Summers settled for a contested 3-pointer, which was off the mark, and the Wildcats went on to win 89-86 in overtime. That was not the case Saturday against Florida.
"I beat myself up after that game," Summers said. "I just had to move forward. I told myself if I ever got in that situation again, I was going to keep going to the hole and be aggressive."
- Here's a good read on Stefan Moody from Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger. Check it out.
- Playing its third straight opponent ranked opponent, Ole Miss came up just short, falling to Mississippi State 64-62 on a last-second shot on Thursday night. Ole Miss went 1-2 over the three-game stretch, knocking off Georgia and losing to Texas A&M and Mississippi State by a combined 11 points. The Rebels are 14-6 overall, 4-3 in SEC play, likely needing to get to at least eight SEC wins to garner NCAA Tournament consideration.
- The result was not what head coach Matt Insell and the team wanted, but a lively crowd of 3,383 provided one of the better, if not the best, atmospheres I have experienced in five-plus years around the women's basketball program. Insell has tirelessly promoted his program, including going door-to-door on Fraternity Row the night before the Mississippi State game, and it showed Thursday.
"First, I want to thank Rebel Nation," Insell said. "What a great crowd that was. I think Oxford, Mississippi and Rebel Nation just really showed up for us tonight. They showed us how much they cared about this basketball game. The crowd was into the game the entire time. I just want to thank everyone that came."
- A lot has been written and said about The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Here's an infographic comparing it to Tad Smith Coliseum. Notice the concessions in the bottom right corner that includes the addition of Raising Cane's to the menu.
- The Ole Miss baseball team held its first spring practice on Friday and its first intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. Here's a pretty thorough preview from Kendall Rogers on the Rebels, which are ranked No. 18 in the D1Baseball.com's preseason top 25 rankings. Don't forget, Ole Miss opens the 2015 season with a three-game home series against William & Mary, starting Friday, Feb. 13 at 4 p.m C.T.
- The lowest-ranked team in its four-team regional in Gainesville, Florida, the Ole Miss men's tennis team notched two big wins over No. 13 Florida and No. 29 South Carolina. The Rebels rallied from down 3-0 to defeat the Gators 4-3 and closed out the weekend with a 4-2 win over the Gamecocks to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Final 16.
- The men's tennis team was bolstered by the return of senior Nik Scholtz, a three-time All-American and the reigning SEC Player of the Year. Unranked because he did not play in the fall, Scholtz defeated the 34th-ranked and 71st-ranked players this past weekend. For more on Scholtz and his decision to return to Ole Miss for his senior season, click here.
- Former Ole Miss players Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson showed out at the Senior Bowl this week. They impressed coaches, scouts and media members, among others. Next up is the NFL Scouting Combine (Feb. 17-23). For more on their week at the Senior Bowl, click here and here.
- Another former Rebel, the New England Patriots' Brandon Bolden, will be playing in the Super Bowl next Sunday (5:30 p.m. CT, NBC). I caught up with Bolden earlier this week, so look for more on him in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.
- In case you missed it, with the start of classes, the Ole Miss football has been updated to reflect six mid-year additions, including freshman offensive lineman Javon Patterson, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection from Pearl, Mississippi. Looking ahead, National Signing Day (Feb. 4) is a week and a half away, so stay tuned.
- In case you missed it, part two, the Ole Miss football video department released a couple of videos over the weekend: "Home is Ole Miss" and "The Journey: Chapter 3."
Former Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt capped an impressive week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, with a game-high five tackles in the game itself Saturday. His former teammate, cornerback Senquez Golson sat out the game with a hamstring injury.
As of the latest prospect rankings from CBS Sports on Wednesday, Prewitt is the No. 54 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 1 free safety and a projected second round pick, while Golson is the No. 68 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 8 cornerback, and a projected second-to-third round pick.
Prewitt is on the fringe on first-round status, garnering a top-50 ranking on big boards according to Rob Rang from NFLDraftScout.com and Joel Klatt from Fox Sports.
The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine will be held from Feb. 17-23, and the NFL Network will provide extensive coverage of the event. The 2015 NFL Draft will be held from April 30-May 2.
Cody Prewitt has raised his draft stock at the Senior Bowl, writes Ross Jones from Fox Sports
Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt's stock is on the rise.
Prewitt followed up his interception in Tuesday's practice by showing great instincts and closing speed on Wednesday. He blew up an oncoming reverse, and Jaguars coaches ran onto the field to congratulate him.
Prewitt, who says he patterns his game after that of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, is the No. 45 overall player on FOX Sports 1 NFL insider Joel Klatt's big board and has the potential to creep into the first round.
"I like to think I pick up on things really well, and it allows me to play really fast," Prewitt said after practice. "I take a lot of pride in my football IQ."
To add even more intrigue, the 6-foot-2, 212-pounder is at the Senior Bowl with his Ole Miss teammate, cornerback Senquez Golson.
Golson, who once turned down a $1.35 million signing bonus from the Boston Red Sox to instead play college football, has finally dedicated himself to the gridiron despite Ole Miss spring baseball gearing up.
"I'm really proud of him. He has come a long way, and honestly we have come a long way together," Prewitt said. "And to be sharing this experience together has been a real blessing for us."
Golson, of course, led the SEC with 10 interceptions and made a major impact for Ole Miss' defense this past season.
The duo is coming off a banner year, leading the Rebels to their first season finishing ranked since 2009.
Here's more on Prewitt from Klatt:
Prewitt displays a quality understanding of the game as he is rarely out of position against complicated route combinations. I was most impressed with his ability to adapt to the new game by avoiding big hits and penalties when he sees exposed receivers.
Here's more from on Prewitt from Tony Pauline, NFL Draft Analyst for DraftInsider.net:
Prewitt came to Mobile and ended the notion that he's a run-defending safety who struggles in coverage. Today, he made several nice plays on passes including an interception in the end zone as well as a break-up in the middle of the field. Prewitt's solid play in coverage the past few days will enhance his draft stock.
Senquez Golson has met with the Cleveland Browns, writes Matt Miller, NFL Draft Lead Writer for Bleacher Report
The Cleveland Browns were very interested in Ole Miss cornerback Senquez Golson, and I've spoken with sources close to both sides who say they've spent a lot of time with him this week.
Cody Prewitt tackles new ideas, writes Parrish Alford from the Daily Journal
Senquez Golson is determined to measure up for NFL, writes Parrish Alford from the Daily Journal
Cody Prewitt stands out in the South secondary at the Senior Bowl, writes Patrick Magee from the Sun Herald
Senquez Golson sat out the Senior Bowl due to a hamstring injury, writes Patrick Magee from the Sun Herald
Ole Miss closes out a three-game stretch in which they will have faced three consecutive ranked opponents when they welcome No. 18 Mississippi State on Thursday night. The Rebels are 1-1 through the first two games of the stretch, having defeated No. 18 Georgia and lost to No. 11 Texas A&M.
Short-term, the goal is to get to 2-1 over the three-game stretch. Long-term, the goal is eight Southeastern Conference wins, which would position Ole Miss (14-5, 4-2 SEC) well for a possible NCAA Tournament bid.
"It's a huge opportunity for us to continue to build a resume for the NCAA Tournament," head coach Matt Insell said. "How you build that resume is you beat top-20 teams, and we have a chance to beat another one here on our home court. That would be a huge win for us, a huge win our program and a huge win for where we want to go at the end of this year.
As it stands right now, Ole Miss boasts RPI Top 50 wins over Georgia (No. 35) and Arkansas (No. 49) and has another opportunity in Mississippi State (19-2, 4-2 SEC), which is ranked No. 41 in the latest NCAA RPI rankings. The Rebels were among the "Next Four Out" in Charlie Creme's latest ESPN Bracketology, which was released Monday.
"They know each game is important," said Insell of his team. "This game is very important because it's a resume-building game for our team in terms of the NCAA Tournament. It's a game where you can put in on your resume that you beat another top-20 team and you did in the span of a week. This is a chance for them to build their resume to get to where they want to get."
Similar to when the schools met in football this past fall, it's been historic, and by some accounts, unexpected seasons for both women's basketball programs. Ole Miss, picked last in the SEC preseason coaches' pool, is off to its best overall start since the 2009-10 season, while Mississippi State, picked 8th in the same poll, is off to its best overall start in program history.
"When the season started, I don't think people thought Ole Miss and Mississippi State would be 4-2 in SEC play when they meet here in the third week in January," Insell said. "I don't think people thought we would be 14-5 and they would be 18-2. It's two teams that are trying to change the landscape of women's basketball in this state and let people know that there's really good women's basketball in the state of Mississippi. I'm happy that we're a part of that."
Ole Miss has already notched its first win over an AP-ranked team, the program's first since the 2010-11 season, and they played two more to within single-digits, both on the road, against No. 11 Kentucky and No. 11 Texas A&M, so there's no sneaking up on anyone, as the Rebels enter the heart of SEC play in contention for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2006-07 season.
"I told them that it gets even tougher now, and we have to know that," Insell said. "It's going to get tougher, so we have to step it up even more, and we have to continue doing that. There's no sneaking up on anyone. We're here. We're inside the house. People see us, and they know we're here. And now we have to learn how to play when we're here."
Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson will represent Ole Miss in the Senior Bowl, which will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. CT from Mobile, Alabama, and will be televised by the NFL Network.
The duo have already had a busy week in Mobile, starting with the national football scouting weight-in on Tuesday morning. Golson came in at 5-foot-8.4 and 174 pounds, while Prewitt came in at 6-foot-2.1 and 211 pounds.
As of Wednesday, Prewitt is the No. 54 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 1 free safety and a projected second round pick, while Golson is the No. 68 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 8 cornerback, and a projected second-to-third round pick.
Through the first two days of practice, they have impressed coaches, scouts and media members, among others. Senior Bowl practices continue Thursday with a walk-through Friday before the game Saturday.
Senquez Golson was tabbed the standout from Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice by Matt Bowen, NFL National Lead Writer and former NFL Defensive backs. Here's more from Bowen:
Golson doesn't have top-tier size at the cornerback position (5'9", 180 lbs); however, the Ole Miss product displays quick footwork and the transition speed (plant/drive) to close on the ball. A player with the hip flexibility to open and run, Golson was physical from a press-man position and looked comfortable playing off the ball in one-on-ones and team drills.
With defensive backs, I always watch for players who want to compete in drills. Do they finish plays? Can they recover versus the deep ball? And do they attack downhill (with speed) to the upfield shoulder in the three-step game? On Monday, that was Golson. The cornerback was aggressive with his technique and challenged receivers on every rep during the South squad practice.
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker will make Golson work hard this week, with a focus on technique. I played for Coach Walker back in Washington, and he is an excellent teacher. This is a great opportunity for the Ole Miss cornerback to continue playing good football in front of NFL scouts, general managers and coaches.
Matt Bowen had this to say about Cody Prewitt after Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice:
Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt displayed the range and ball skills to make plays from the middle of the field on Monday. And he will attack the ball in the vertical passing game.
Senquez Golson was one of nine standouts from Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice, writes Bucky Brooks, NFL Media analyst for NFL.com:
Golson lacks the ideal size to be a frontline starter as a pro, but DB coaches are quickly falling in love with the possibility of him filling a role as a nickel corner. The 5-10, 176-pounder displayed impressive footwork and short-area quickness in coverage, while also exhibiting outstanding instincts and awareness in coverage. He repeatedly made bang-bang plays on the ball in one-on-one and team drills, showcasing the playmaking skills that made him one of the top cover corners in the SEC. Although his slender frame could make him a liability against big-bodied receivers in the NFL, Golson's explosiveness and natural ball skills make him a hot commodity as a sub-defender.
James Walker, ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter, had this to say about Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt after Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice:
Keep an eye on Ole Miss cornerback Senquez Golson. He's undersized at 5-feet-10 and 175 pounds, but Golson played bigger than his size in the first day of practice. He made plays on the ball Tuesday that caught my eye. Golson looks comfortable playing man-to-man defense, which is a valuable commodity in the NFL. I'm curious to see him practice more throughout the week.
Speaking of Ole Miss, safety Cody Prewitt recorded the only interception in either practice Tuesday. Prewitt had an easy pick off Grayson, who floated the ball in coverage after being pressured. Prewitt also had a nice return of about 20 yards.
Ryan Mink, staff writer for BaltimoreRavens.com, had this to say about Senquez Golson after Day 1 of Senior Practice:
Ole Miss' Senquez Golson is the shortest player at the Senior Bowl, measuring in Tuesday morning at 5-foot-8 ½ inches and a mere 178 pounds. The SEC's 2014 interceptions leader showed he's not afraid to throw his body around, however, as he went high to whack a 6-foot-6, 281-pound tight end in 11-on-11 drills, causing an incompletion.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley had this to say about Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson (via Parrish Alford from the Daily Journal):
"We're trying to get him to understand that we're teaching him our principles" said Bradley of Prewitt. "He's done a good job. He's lively and spirited and has some energy out there in meetings and some stuff. Sometimes, he's down. Sometimes, he's back. It's really like understanding two positions because there's a lot of technique involved with that, and he's handled it really well."
"Every team is looking for different traits at the corner spot," said Bradley of Golson. "... You look at these players, and he's going to have a fit for a team. That's what you're looking for. He has great quickness and great competitiveness. Some teams get caught up more in height, weight and length. For some teams, it's not an issue, and it's more about transition, coverage ability and ability to stay on top. Each team has unique traits that they're looking for."
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker had this to say about Senquez Golson (via Patrick Ochs from the Sun Herald):
"You gotta play big," Walker said. "You can't make them taller. They have to be physical, be aggressive, play with urgency," he said. "Seeing details and having a high IQ helps because it helps them get to the play faster and compensate for their lack of size. ... There's a spot for little guys, they just have to play big."
Senquez Golson, a former eighth-round selection of the Boston Red Sox who turned down more than $1 million to attend Ole Miss, has officially decided not to play college baseball this spring, writes Patrick Ochs from the Sun Herald:
"It got to the point where I just need to focus on football," Golson said. "We tried to work it out to where I could try to play baseball, but I was just going to be missing too much time."
More on Golson's decision to not play college baseball this spring, writes Parrish Alford from the Daily Journal:
"I don't think I'm going to be able to play," Golson said. "I'm just missing too much time. I'm here all week. Then within the next two or three weeks we head to the combine. I've got training in between. There's just so much going on. I've been out of baseball a year. I just felt like I wasn't going to have the time to catch up."
Here's what Senior Bowl practice onlookers are saying about Prewitt:
Here's what Senior Bowl practice onlookers are saying about Golson:
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