He's (potentially) back. - Andy Lyons
In the early signing period, the Rebels signed five players: Juco CB Nick Brassell, RB Mark Dodson Jr., Juco DT Lavon Hooks, TE Christian Morgan, and Juco HB/WR Quadarias Mireles. Each signee has a chance to have a quick impact, which is great to see from players arriving in January.
Nick Brassell is, of course, returning to Ole Miss after a sensational freshman season that saw him ooze with potential before ultimately being declared ineligible and having to go the juco route to get eligible. It's important to note here that he isn't eligible yet. He has done enough to get back to Ole Miss but has work to do before he can actually play football. If he does overcome the hurdles ahead of him, Brassell could potentially push Senquez Golson for starting cornerback duties, giving us a group of three strong options at the position (Brassell, Golson, Sawyer). In case you've forgotten how fast Brassell is, here's a video of him torching the Alabama secondary as a true freshman.
Mark Dodson Jr. has a chance to really contribute as a Rebel. He may not play a ton as a freshman simply because we're in good shape at the position, but the future is bright for him. Dodson is a speed back, but he runs with power as well. As a senior, the Memphis native rushed for over 3,000 yards and willed his team to a state championship. He is shifty and apparently has good hands (though I can't really tell that from watching videos). Ranked as the #5 All-Purpose Back by Rivals.com, Dodson picked up offers from Texas, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and others. He has stayed committed to the Rebels since May 14th. Dodson is a huge piece to the class.
Lavon Hooks should contribute a lot very early. He's the type of defensive tackle this team is losing with GIlbert Pena, as he is 6'4" 295. He should continue to fill out and become the tackle who potentially absorbs two offensive linemen, allowing Isaac Gross to have his way with opposing guards who have to block him alone. Hooks isn't really a penetrator, but offensive lines will struggle with him when run blocking. Hooks was ranked as the #2 junior college player by Rivals.com and is critical to this team moving forward. If things go as planned, offensive coordinator will have to pick at least two of CJ Johnson, Isaac Gross, Lavon Hooks, and Robert Nkemdiche to block one-on-one. That's a tough choice.
At the spot where we literally don't bring back a single snap, Christian Morgan arrives on campus to try to earn the starting tight end job. In this case, the Rebels simply had to find a tight end prospect who was ready to step in and play immediately. They couldn't afford to sign a group of tight ends who all needed redshirt years to grow their bodies. Morgan is 6'4" 255, so that shouldn't be an issue in his case. He has been described as a capable receiver but better blocker and is listed as the #16 tight end according to Rivals.com. It will be intriguing to see how effective he can be when asked to help block elite defensive ends as a true freshman. I'm sure he'll lose some of those battles, but if he's even serviceable that young, it will have been a huge success. The Rebels don't appear likely to add a junior college tight end, so having a guy show up with the right body type was imperative.
Quadarias Mireles originally signed with the Rebels three years ago and was touted as the next Dexter. The NCAA ended up not accepting some of his coursework, so he had to go to junior college despite graduating from college in 3.5 years. Mireles hasn't made headlines in this class, but he's a dynamic player who was asked to be a receiving threat as well as runner this season. He is a shifty player who will likely play a great deal in the slot and gives us a running threat when he goes in motion. I don't expect him to ever be a full-time running back, but it's possible he could see some snaps there if necessary.
Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to signing day.