FEATURE: Wide Receiver U Increases Enrollment
Nov. 3, 2016
Story Featured in the Ole Miss vs. Auburn Football Game Program (Oct. 29)
Ole Miss is accustomed to having talent at the wide receiver position. Just look at the NFL. Mike Wallace is still burning defensive backs with his speed. Donte Moncrief has been throwing up the Landshark in the end zone with the Colts for the past three seasons. The Rebels have very recent examples of receivers drafted into the League with Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core beginning their professional careers.
Still, there is something even more special about the talent assembled out wide in 2016. The new Wide Receiver U is only increasing its enrollment.
Of the Rebels’ six leading wide receivers, each was at least a four-star prospect out of high school. Five of the six were either Under Armour or U.S. Army All-Americans. They have definitely lived up to the billing since arriving in Oxford.
No school has the depth of big, physical receivers with reliable hands that Hugh Freeze and company have assembled. Any NFL team would love for each of their six leading wide receivers to be at least 6-foot-1 and play with a physical edge. The Rebels have just that.
“I love our receivers,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “I like them any week we play against anybody; I think we have a chance on any play to win a one-on-one. That doesn't mean you always get it done, but I am always going to feel confident about that group."
Senior Quincy Adeboyejo is the longest-tenured receiver of the group, which naturally placed him in a leadership position.
“Learning the playbook is something that I’ve always been pretty good at,” Adeboyejo said. “I’ve got the plays down pretty well. I try to do my best to help anybody that is struggling.”
He’s been a part of many talented receiving corps in his time at Ole Miss, and they just keep improving with each passing season.
“It’s gotten better and better as the years have gone by,” Adeboyejo said. “The coaches have been recruiting very well. They’ve got some really top-notch guys. We set the bar high every year. Guys want to compete and it brings the best out of everybody.”
This year, the approach is a little different than last year. Treadwell was a central cog both for the offense’s gameplan and the opposing defense’s focus.
“When Laquon was here, they would put guys just on him,” Adeboyejo said. “They didn’t know that we had a lot of other guys that can play and get open against one-on-one coverage. That’s the thing here. If there’s one-on-one against anybody, it’s our job to win no matter what.”
Depth is a word that is commonly thrown around in football. Ole Miss really has it in spades out wide because of all the success in recruiting the best at the position year-in and year-out.
“The depth is the biggest strength,” Adeboyejo said. “If somebody goes down or gets tired, the person who comes in is going to be just as good.”
With that depth comes extreme competition within the group. Players have to show up every practice because, as mentioned, the guy right behind him is just as good. It’s the atmosphere that coaches want to breed where players are fighting for snaps each day.
“It’s fun,” said redshirt-freshman Van Jefferson. “Those are your teammates and your brothers. At the same time, you have to compete to stay on the field. We have fun, but it’s good competition for all of us.”
Jefferson arrived last season as a four-star recruit and accustomed to being one of, if not the most, talented player on any field he stepped on. He didn’t get to play because of the logjam of good players at receiver last year. He used a year of hard work to make him one of Ole Miss’ top targets this season.
“I needed that year under my belt to get bigger, stronger and faster,” Jefferson said. “(Strength) Coach (Paul) Jackson got me right and made me better for this year. It was all God’s timing, and it really benefited me well."
Freeze’s offense is perfect for maximizing the strength the team has at wide receiver. Jefferson said it’s fun to watch teammates score touchdowns, so he’s experienced plenty of enjoyment this season. Nine different Rebels have caught touchdown passes so far in 2016.
“We spread it out,” Jefferson said. “If you’re a receiver and want to catch the ball, you want to come here. The offense we run is great for receivers. That’s one of the reasons I came here.”
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