Ole Miss Football Spring Review

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner Deterrian Shackelford (photo by Joshua McCoy)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner Deterrian Shackelford (photo by Joshua McCoy)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

May 13, 2014

2014 Spring Review Get Acrobat Reader

Ole Miss is enjoying a great deal of excitement about the direction of the program under head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, and the spring practice season did nothing to dampen that enthusiasm.

The Rebels' 15 days of spring drills, culminating with the 2014 Regions Bank Grove Bowl, were filled with energy and effort that Freeze praised regularly. It seems that the Ole Miss players are ready to do something special with the talent and depth that returns from last season.

In just two seasons at the helm, Freeze has turned around the Rebels' fortunes with back-to-back bowl victories and winning seasons. This past fall, Ole Miss defeated Georgia Tech 25-17 in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl to finish with an 8-5 record and their most wins since 2009.

In February, Ole Miss secured its place among the nation's best in recruiting with a second straight top-15 rated class that will further bolster the team's talent and depth. Six of the 2014 signees are enrolled in classes and participated in spring drills.

The Rebels welcome back 60 lettermen and 15 position starters from last season, including nine starters on the defensive side. Look for the speed and intensity to ramp up once again in year three of the Hugh Freeze era.

Below is a position-by-position breakdown upon the conclusion of spring drills.

QUARTERBACKS
• Record-setting signal caller Bo Wallace returns at quarterback and went through spring drills healthy for the first time since 2012.
• Wallace ranks top three in school history in career total yards, passing yards, completions, completion percentage, passing efficiency and 300-yard games.
• With Barry Brunetti lost to graduation, redshirt-freshmen DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan battled for the back-up spot throughout the spring, while JUCO transfer Jeremy Liggins and early enrollee Kendrick Doss also took snaps behind center.

RUNNING BACKS
• Four lettermen return, including last year's top two rushers in I'Tavius Mathers (563 yards) and Jaylen Walton (523 yards).
Jeff Scott, who finished his career fourth in school history in all-purpose yards, was lost to graduation.
Mark Dodson returns after seeing limited action as a freshman, while redshirt freshmen Jordan Wilkins and Eugene Brazley add even more to the battle for playing time.
• Highly rated JUCO signee Akeem Judd will join the team this fall.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Donte Moncrief leaves big shoes to fill after departing early for the NFL Draft, but Ole Miss returns good talent among the seven returning lettermen from last year.
Laquon Treadwell headlines the corps after earning 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year honors and breaking virtually every Ole Miss freshman receiving record with 72 catches, 608 yards and five TDs.
Vince Sanders, Quincy Adeboyejo, Cody Core and Collins Moore are all expected to take on larger roles. Moore earned the Eli Manning Award as the spring's most improved offensive player.
• Two signees from Mississippi - Markell Pack and Dayall Harris - will join the team in the fall.

TIGHT ENDS
Evan Engram, who became one of the first two freshmen in school history to be named All-SEC, returns for his sophomore year. He had 21 catches for 268 yards and three TDs last year.
• A total of seven lettermen return at the position, most of them providing practice depth.
Nicholas Parker, who started three games last fall when Engram was hurt, also returns.
• Converted defensive end Channing Ward saw all of his snaps at tight end this spring.
• Signee Sammie Epps will join the team this fall.

OFFENSIVE LINE
• The Rebels have to replace three starters from last year who have graduated – left guard Jared Duke, center Evan Swindall and right tackle Pierce Burton.
Laremy Tunsil, who became one of the first two freshmen in school history to be named All-SEC, returns at left tackle.
Justin Bell started at right guard last year and held down the left guard spot in the spring.
• A total of eight lettermen return along the OL.
Ben Still and Robert Conyers took most of the snaps at center this spring. Still ended the spring at No. 1, while Conyers is No. 1 at right tackle.
Aaron Morris was limited in spring drills, but will return at left guard this fall after suffering a torn ACL in the season opener and missing all of the 2013 season.
• Other players to watch in the battle for playing time include Daronte Bouldin, Davion Johnson, Christian Morris and Carlton Martin.
• Five signees will join the team this fall, including highly rated recruits Fahn Cooper (JUCO transfer), Rod Taylor and Jordan Sims.

DEFENSIVE ENDS
• Five lettermen return from last year, including starter Bryon Bennett.
• The Rebels lost starter Cameron Whigham to graduation.
C.J. Johnson, considered one of the best players on the Ole Miss defense, returned from an ankle injury and looked good in spring drills.
• Look for Fadol Brown, a transfer from FIU who sat out last season, to make an impact this fall after a productive spring.
• Mid-year enrollee Marquis Haynes also impressed the coaches during spring drills.
• Highly rated signee Breeland Speaks is among those who will join the team this fall.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES
• Five lettermen return from last year, including starters Woodrow Hamilton and Freshman All-American Robert Nkemdiche.
Issac Gross, a part-time starter who led the Rebels in sacks, also returns.
• Seniors Lavon Hooks and Bryon Bennett should also contribute in the fall after seeing interior line action this spring.
• Highly regarded signees Garrald McDowell and Chris Williams join the team in the fall.

LINEBACKERS
• All-SEC picks Serderius Bryant and Denzel Nkemdiche lead of group of six returning lettermen from last year.
• Bryant had a career year in 2013, topping Ole Miss with 78 tackles and 12.5 TFLs to go with 3.0 sacks and three forced fumbles.
• Team leader Deterrian Shackelford, who became the first ever two-time winner of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, showed this spring that he could be a candidate to replace graduated middle linebacker Mike Marry.
• JUCO transfer Christian Russell and sophomore Temario Strong also impressed at middle linebacker this spring.
• Others expected to contribute include Keith Lewis and Ray Ray Smith.
• Signees DeMarquis Gates and A.J. Moore will join the team in the fall.

SAFETIES/HUSKIES
• Four impact players return, including starters Cody Prewitt (Free Safety), Trae Elston (Rover) and Tony Conner (Huskie).
• Prewitt was named a first team All-American after posting 71 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and an SEC-best six interceptions last year.
• Conner earned Freshman All-America accolades after making 66 tackles, 5.0 TFLs and seven passes defended in 12 starts.
Chief Brown moved over to Huskie this spring and can play any of the three positions.
• The talented duo of Anthony Alford (transfer from Southern Miss who sat out last season) and C.J. Hampton (early enrollee) intensified the competition this spring and are expected to help at Rover and free safety, respectively.

CORNERBACKS
• The Rebels return seven of nine lettermen at cornerback, including starters Senquez Golson and Mike Hilton.
Charles Sawyer was lost to graduation.
Derrick Jones made four starts as a freshman last year and has the potential to break out as a star this season.
• Senior Cliff Coleman earned the Jeff Hamm Memorial Award as the spring's most improved defensive player.
• Sophomore Kailo Moore moved to corner from running back this spring. He and Carlos Davis provide the cornerback position with two of the team's fastest players.
• Ole Miss will add highly regarded signees Tee Shepard (JUCO transfer) and Kendarius Webster in the fall.

SPECIALISTS
• Ole Miss has to replace last year's starting kicker (Andrew Ritter) and punter (Tyler Campbell).
• Competing for the kicker role this spring were Andy Pappanastos and Andrew Fletcher.
• Australian Will Gleeson and Grant Warren shared punting duties in the spring.
• Ole Miss adds the nation's No. 1 kicker prospect this fall in Gary Wunderlich, who has potential at both field goals and punts.
Will Denny returns at long snapper, while the Rebels look for a replacement at holder with the graduation of Chris Conley. Candidates include Ryan Buchanan and John Ratliff.

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • What They're Saying: Ole Miss-Boise State

      Friday, August 29, 2014 - Football

      The No. 18 Ole Miss football team won the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game defeating Boise State 35-13. The Rebels move into Southeastern Conference next week with a road test at Vanderbilt from Nashville's LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. The... read more

    • 'The New Normal' on Defense

      Friday, August 29, 2014 - Football

      ATLANTA -- Boise State had been the highest scoring team in the nation, averaging 40.2 points per game dating back to the 2000 season.  Highlighted by four interceptions, eight tackles for loss and big hits by several different players, the... read more

    • Second-Half Surge for Rebel Offense

      Friday, August 29, 2014 - Football

      ATLANTA -- After an up-and-down first half, which included a touchdown and three interceptions, senior quarterback Bo Wallace and the Ole Miss offense found their stride in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. Leading 7-6 early in the... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-Boise State Motivational

      Thursday, August 28, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss vs Boise State Official Team Motivational '14 from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Boise State

      Thursday, August 28, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as Ole Miss opens its 2014 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Boise State from Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Contrast in Experience Boise State has one of the youngest teams in the country with 67 freshmen... read more

    • Volleyball Opens Steven McRoberts Era

      Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - Volleyball

      Here are three pieces to keep in mind as we look ahead to the Ole Miss volleyball team's season-opening weekend in Buffalo, New York, starting with Canisius on Friday morning, the first of four matches over three days at the... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 1

      Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 1 (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Dome, Sweet Dome for Atlanta Area Rebels

      Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - Football

      For high school football players in Georgia, all roads lead to the Georgia Dome and the state championships.  For a handful of Rebels, those roads lead home, as Ole Miss opens the 2014 season against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A... read more

    • VIDEO: Forward Together Construction Update

      Monday, August 25, 2014 - Athletics

      read more

    • Relentless is the Word on Defense

      Sunday, August 24, 2014 - Football

      ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy asked each of the 65 coaches from the Power Five conferences to describe their team in one word.  Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's word? Relentless. The same can be said of the Ole Miss defense.  And... read more

    • McCormick, Defense Shine in Win

      Sunday, August 24, 2014 - Soccer

      After playing 110 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Georgia on Friday night, Ole Miss responded with a gutsy 1-0 win over Iowa State on Sunday afternoon. The defense, led by senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick was the story of the... read more

    • Rebels Battle to Draw on Historic Night

      Friday, August 22, 2014 -

      Big time crowd for @SECNetwork live sports event debut. Record attendance of 1,823 for @OleMissSoccer Let's finish strong.-- Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) August 23, 2014 Ole Miss kicked off the 2014 season in thrilling fashion, rallying to a 1-1 draw with... read more

    • Kiffin Pleased with Defensive Line Progress

      Friday, August 22, 2014 - Football

      Like defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, defensive line coach Chris Kiffin has been pleased with his players throughout fall camp, particularly the depth bolstered by the return of junior defensive end C.J. Johnson and the addition of sophomore Fadol Brown and... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Volleyball Day One

      Friday, August 22, 2014 - Volleyball

      THE SEASON: Volleyball - Day One from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Rebels Kick-Off Season on National Stage

      Friday, August 22, 2014 - Soccer

      Three things from Ole Miss soccer head coach Matt Mott, previewing the season opener against Georgia on Friday night. Rebels Look to Take Next Step Ole Miss made history this past season, not only setting a school record for wins,... read more