Combination of Veteran Players, Fresh Faces Ready to Ring in a New Era
Aug. 1, 2018

Headed into the 2018 season, Ole Miss is looking to
build off the momentum gained at the end of last season,
winning three of its last four games including a 31-28
Egg Bowl win at No. 14 Mississippi State.

After having the interim title removed after the 2017 season, head coach Matt Luke and the Rebels return 56 lettermen, including eight starters from the offensive side of the ball and seven from the Landshark defense.

Offensive coordinator Phil Longo returns for his second season spearheading the Ole Miss offense and has a bevy of weapons at his disposal. Junior All-American and Conerly Trophy winner A.J. Brown returns after setting the Ole Miss single-season record with 1,252 yards. DaMarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf join Brown to form one of the most explosive receiving corps in the country. The trio combined for 25 touchdowns last season and make up the only receiving corps in the country that returns three receivers who tallied seven or more touchdown catches during the 2017 season.

Signal-caller Jordan Ta’amu will man the QB spot for the Rebels after starting the last five games behind center. Ta’amu averaged 320.8 yards passing per game during his starts, while accounting for 15 touchdowns; 11 through the air and four on the ground. After passing for 418 yards in win over Louisiana during week 11, Ta’amu became only the second-ever Ole Miss QB in program history to throw for 350 or more yards in three straight games. Ta’amu’s 418 passing yards vs. the Ragin’ Cajuns was the sixth-best passing performance in Ole Miss history. Ta’amu completed more than 66 percent of his passes and threw for 1,682 yards and 11 TDs. including three straight 365-plus yard performances to begin his Ole Miss career.

Tight end Dawson Knox returns after a successful sophomore campaign that saw the Nashville, Tennessee, native haul in 24 catches for 321 yards in nine starts last season.

The Rebels return four of their five starters on the offensive line in Greg Little, Javon Patterson, Sean Rawlings and Alex Givens, as well as Jordan Sims who appeared in 11 contests during the 2016 campaign. The five veteran offensive linemen have a combined 103 starts between them.

On the defensive side of the ball, Wesley McGriff and the Rebels will have some big shoes to fill with the loss of all-conference performers Marquis Haynes and Breeland Speaks. Haynes, Ole Miss’ modern-era leader in both sacks and tackles for loss, graduated, and Speaks decided to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. The duo combined to record 115 tackles and accounted for more than half of Ole Miss’ 29 sacks.

Also gone is DeMarquis Gates, who led the Rebels in tackles for three straight seasons. Gates’ 114 tackles in 2017 were the most by any Rebel defender since Patrick Willis recorded 137 in 2006.

Defensive tackles Josiah Coatney and Benito Jones, as well as defensive backs Zedrick Woods, Myles Hartsfield, Jaylon Jones and Ken Webster are all returning starters who will look to anchor the Rebel defense in 2018.

Jordan Ta’amu returns after starting the final five games of the season.
• Ta’amu went 3-2 and closed the season strong.
• The rising senior completed 115-of-173 passes for 1,682 yards. Ta’amu tallied 11 touchdown passes compared to just four interceptions. He also ran for four scores.
• In his first career start, Ta’amu threw for 368 yards, the most passing yards ever by an Ole Miss QB making his first career start.
• Newcomer Matt Corral is expected to handle snaps behind Ta’amu.
• Corral was a U.S. Army All-American and was ranked the No. 3 pro-style QB in the 2018 recruiting class.

Jordan Wilkins was the team’s leading rusher in 2017 with 155 carries for 1,011 rushing yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry, nine rushing TDs, 26 receptions, 241 receiving yards, one receiving TD.
D’Vaughn Pennamon, D.K. Buford, Eric Swinney and newcomers Scottie Phillips and Isaiah Woullard will be battling for the running workload. Both Phillips and Woullard were early enrollees and participated in spring camp.
Armani Linton adds depth as the former defensive back moved over to the offensive side of the ball in the spring.
• Phillips, a transfer from Jones County Junior College, was the top-rated junior college running back.

• Rebels return five lettermen from last year’s team.
A.J. Brown, an All-America selection by the Associated Press and Phil Steele, totaled 75 catches for an Ole Miss single-season record 1,252 yards.
DaMarkus Lodge caught 41 balls for 698 yards and seven touchdowns. Lodge tallied two multiple touchdown games and went over the 100-yard receiving mark twice.
D.K. Metcalf tallied 39 catches for 646 yards and seven touchdowns on his way to earning SEC AllFreshman honors.
• Ole Miss is the only team in the country with three returning receivers who hauled in seven or more touchdowns during the 2017 season.
• Sophomore Braylon Sanders and senior Alex Weber also return for the Rebels.
• Newcomer Demarcus Gregory is a mid-year enrollee and participated in spring drills. Elijah Moore and Miles Battle are incoming freshmen that will join a talented receiving corps in the fall.

Dawson Knox leads the way for the Ole Miss tight end group. Knox tallied 10 catches for 324 yards in 10 games in 2017.
• Junior Octavious Cooley, who was named Most Improved during the spring, will return after appearing in 10 contests in 2017, hauling in four catches for 66 yards.
Jason Pellerin, Alex Faniel and Gabe Angel add depth to the position.

• The veteran group performed well through some attrition in 2017.
• Blocked for Jordan Wilkins on his way to becoming the first 1,000 yard rusher since 2009.
• Ole Miss returns All-SEC left tackle Greg Little, who started every game at the blind side position for the Rebels in 2017.
• The Rebels return four starters in Little, Sean Rawlings, Javon Patterson and Alex Givens.
Jordan Sims and Ben Brown will compete at right guard for the fifth spot. Sims started 11 games on the offensive line as a sophomore in 2016.
• Little, Rawlings, Patterson, Givens and Sims have combined for 103 starts during their careers at Ole Miss.
Royce Newman, Bryce Mathews, Tony Gray, Eli Johnson, Chandler Tuitt and Michael Howard return to add depth.

• Rebels lose two all-conference ends in Marquis Haynes and Breeland Speaks.
• Haynes, Ole Miss’ modern-era sack leader has graduated and Speaks decided to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. The pair combined for 115 tackles and accounted for more than half of Ole Miss’ 29 sacks.
Victor Evans (18 tackles), Markel Winters, Ryder Anderson, Qaadir Sheppard, Brenden Williams return from last season to fill their shoes.
Austrian Robinson, who moved from defensive tackle in the spring, will also help add depth.

• The Rebels return former Freshman All-American Benito Jones, Josiah Coatney, Ross Donelly, Sincere David.
• Coatney, a preseason All-SEC pick, tallied 65 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
• Jones compiled 1.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. • Hal Northern earned 2017 NJCAA first team AllAmerica honors and joins the Rebels for the 2018 season.
• K.D. Hill and Quentin Bivens are newcomers who will add depth come the fall.

• The Rebels lose DeMarquis Gates (114 tackles) and Tayler Polk (39 tackles, one sack) to graduation.
Willie Hibbler, Josh Clarke, Donta Evans, Zikerrion Baker, Detric Bing-Dukes and Mohamed Sanogo return from last year’s team to lead the unit.
• Bing-Dukes, a senior from Tucker, Ga., is the returning leading tackler at the linebacker spot for the Rebels with 24 stops last season.
• Clarke, a redshirt freshman from Jefferson, Louisiana, will likely see heavy snaps opposite of Bing-Dukes.
• Jaquez Jones, Jonathan Hess, Luke Knox and Kevontae’ Ruggs will all report to fall camp to battle for snaps.

• Ole Miss returns a veteran nucleus of Zedrick Woods (64 tackles, four break ups, four deflections), C.J. Moore (51 tackles, three interceptions), Cam Ordway, C.J. Miller and Montrell Custis.
•As the recipient of the 2018 Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner, Moore will wear Mullins’ No. 38 jersey throughout the 2018 season .
• Ole Miss added the Mississippi 6A High School Player of the Year in Tylan Knight in its 2018 class. Knight can play on both sides of the ball and could see time in the defensive backfield.
• Junior college transfer Vernon Dasher participated in spring drills and plays the Star position for the Rebels.

• The Rebels return all but one cornerback from the 2017 squad.
• Returning is a core of upperclassmen in Ken Webster, Javien Hamilton, Myles Hartsfield and Jaylon Jones.
• Hartsfield recorded 42 tackles, five deflections and two interceptions in 2017.
• Webster had 29 tackles and a pair of break ups and deflections last season.
• Kidreon Smith and Jakorey Hawkins are newcomers to this group that will join the team in the fall.

• The Rebels must replace all-time leading scorer Gary Wunderlich on field goal duties as well as punter Will Gleeson.
Luke Logan made 2-of-3 field goals last season and will compete with Patrick Nasiatka for kicking duties.
Mac Brown punted five times and averaged 42.2 yards per punt.
• Junior Jaylon Jones, a preseason All-SEC kick returner by Athlon, expects to handle kick return duties again in 2018 after finishing third in the SEC with 25.0 yards per return last season.






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