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Season Countdown: The Seven Most Important Newcomers

A week! That's all that separates us from college football! With just seven days left, we are celebrating the seven most important Rebel newcomers. This column was published in The Local Voice this week, which can be procured in and about Oxford, or downloaded here.


Hugh Freeze and company earned a lot of media coverage this past National Signing Day by bringing some of the country's top talent to Oxford, so there are far more than seven newcomers who will play this fall, but these are the ones we expect to make an impact early and often.

7. Running Back Kailo Moore - The speedy back out of the Mississippi Delta is already one of the fastest players on the team, if not the absolute fastest. While Moore is not likely to start in the Rebel backfield or get a lion's share of the carries, he will be a dangerous weapon in this offense. He is the kind of player who, if he gets his blocks and breaks his way into the open field, he will not be caught.

6. Tight End Evan Engram - The Rebels graduated both Ferbia allen and Jamal Mosely off of last year's team, leaving the program with a major void at tight end. In steps Evan Engram, a tall, sure-handed freshman out of the Atlanta area who will be relied upon right away in the Ole Miss offense. Hugh Freeze likes his tight ends to be leaner, quicker receiving threats as opposed to simply extra blockers on the end, and Engram fits that mold perfectly. He might need to put on some weight to be SEC-ready, but he'll most assuredly be a part of the passing game right away.

5. Defensive Tackle Lavon Hooks - Rated by several recruiting services as the top junior college prospect in the country, Lavon Hooks joins Ole Miss after transferring from Northeast Mississippi Community College. He has the size of a legitimate defensive tackle but the athleticism of a basketball player, and should contribute to what could shape up to be one of the SEC's top defensive lines.

4. Defensive Back Tony Conner - At South Panola High School, Tony Conner did everything. He played safety. He played quarterback. He returned kicks and punts. And he was good at all of it. He is a natural athlete who has ideal size and speed. He has natural football instincts and abilities which will serve him well in Rebel Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack's Huskie position, a hybrid linebacker/defensive back asked to take on a multitude of roles.

3. Wide Receiver Laquon Treadwell - In Hugh Freeze's hurry up, no huddle offensive system, Laquon Treadwell could emerge as one of the SEC's most valuable freshmen. In a scheme where a lot of plays are run, coaches need wide receivers with size, speed, and reliability, all attributes which Laquon Treadwell possesses on a legitimate SEC level. With Vincent Sanders out with a broken collarbone, Ja-Mes Logan has been moved to the outside in his spot leaving Treadwell to occupy the starting slot position. He is already one of the most valuable pass catchers on this offense, and he hasn't even played a down of college football.

2. Offensive Tackle Laremy Tunsil - Early reports out of practice are that Laremy Tunsil is capable of things that freshmen should not be capable of. Offensive tackle is one of those positions where freshmen rarely contribute. Even Michael Oher started out as a guard at Ole Miss. But Laremy Tunsil is certain to figure in the tackle rotation this fall. It's tough to say he will start over Emmanuel McCray or Pierce Burton, especially early on, but that is certainly not out of the possibility, as his talent level is just that high.

1. Defensive End Robert Nkemdiche - The reason Ole Miss signed the class it did, and the reason that this program will receive significant media attention this season, is Robert Nkemdiche. The consensus top high school player in the country will have the eyes of the college football nation watching him (and, therefore, Ole Miss). He will be an integral part of the Ole Miss defense starting with the season opener against Vanderbilt, and if he succeeds at the level that many believe he can, his presence in Oxford will literally have a program changing effect for the Ole Miss Rebels.

Over the next few months, we will see what type of impact these players will have on the Ole Miss Rebel program. If it is as much as many of us hope it can be, then we are in for a very exciting season. Hotty Toddy.