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Most Underappreciated Rebel Footballer?

Odd hand placement, Joel.
Odd hand placement, Joel.

While I don't want to make this into a "he's got a lot of heart and is scrappy" post, I do think there are players on our team who are consistently overlooked because of a litany of factors. Sometimes it's because they aren't flashy. Sometimes it's because there's a freshman at their position who we're all excited about. Sometimes it's because they weren't heralded recruits out of high school. Sometimes it's because they're used in reserve roles.

Other times it's because, well, they're bad at football.

But the point is that players on every team are overlooked or just treated as an afterthought despite being significant contributors to the team in one way or another. This is my attempt to determine who those players are for our Ole Miss Rebels.

With this particular breakdown, I tried to stick with players who are projected to start or be major contributors either in the two deep. Sure, you could make a case for a lot of other guys to be added to this list, but I'm satisfied with the list of five I've come up with. I've profiled them after the jump.

The first player I thought of is sophomore defensive tackle Bryon Bennett. Bennett started eight games at defensive tackle last season, and while he didn't produce much in the way of stats (15 tackles), he was just a freshman and played much more than his more highly touted high school teammate (Carlton Martin). Bennett has solidified a starting spot on the defensive line, and he could develop into a very good tackle in time.

Another player that is never mentioned by most fans is Aaron Garbutt. The senior safety had 51 tackles in his first season as a Rebel. He played what we are now calling the Husky position and showed to be a reliable tackler who has a knack for finding the ball. I'm under no illusions that Garbutt is all-SEC caliber. I just think it's strange that he and still largely unproven Denzel Nkemdiche are locked in a battle for a starting spot. Garbutt is big and has shown the ability to get the job done. I'd put him back out there and see if he can make the common jump among junior college players heading into their senior year.

It's frustrating that people only want to discuss Donte Moncrief when considering Ole Miss receivers. While Moncrief is definitely the best receiver on the roster, junior Ja-Mes Logan is a good complement to him. Both are big, physical receivers who are capable of going up and getting the ball. Logan faded towards the end of the season (recording one catch in the last four games), but so did the rest of the team. Logan is our second leading receiver among returning players. He's going to be counted on this year, and I think he's capable of filling a role as the receiver who benefits from double coverage Moncrief will likely draw.

Senior corner Wesley Pendleton started ten games in his first season as a Rebel. Being asked to start at corner immediately in the SEC is a difficult task, but a quick look at the stats suggest Pendleton was likely our best corner last season. He accumulated just nineteen tackles (counter-intuitively a good thing among corners) compared to 28 for fellow starter Marcus Temple. Pendleton starts the Fall as our top corner which, against the receivers in the SEC West, means we will be asking a lot of him.

I realize that Joel Kight isn't as trendy a mention as Serderius Bryant in the "short linebackers who still play hard" discussion, but Bryant hasn't impressed the new coaches very much (he's currently running third string), so I couldn't justify putting him here. On the other hand, Kight, while not expected to start over Mike Marry, is likely the first true linebacker off the bench. He is quick and displays a good ability to shed blocks. He started eight games last season, and his effectiveness didn't waver even after the season went to two or three hells in half a handbasket. I expect him to play a lot this year and be a solid backup linebacker for us.