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Ole Miss Rebel Football 2013 Position Preview: Guards

The Rebels have experience up front, but could use some depth.

Crystal Logiudice-US PRESSWIRE

Last Season
Guard play was relatively consistent last season with AJ Hawkins and Aaron Morris starting every game and right and left guard respectively. There wasn't really much depth, but a few other linemen did play. Morris was the best of the group and played particularly well down the stretch. He has good size and helped pave the way for a strong offensive output towards the end of the year. Hawkins was an above average starter as well and could be counted on a good bit.

The depth wasn't very strong. Patrick Junen, Jared Duke, and Justin Bell were fine, and they definitely have the size to play BCS-level college football, but the second and third string linemen just seemed to be too big to make the up-tempo system work.

This Season
An offseason has done some of the guards well and has had negative impacts on others. Aaron Morris' shoulder injury in the Spring caused him to gain a lot of weight, not a good thing in Freeze's system. It did give Justin Bell and Patrick Junen extra snaps, of which they made the most. Both are battling for the starting job rendered vacant by AJ Hawkins' graduation. Jared Duke is behind Morris and was penciled in ahead of him on the depth chart briefly, but that was likely just to send a message to Morris to get in shape. It's coaching psychology and all that.

The starters may not be better than they were last season; honestly it's possible they would even take a short step back. The depth though is much stronger though, and they're likely to play much better down the stretch once Morris loses a little more weight and the new starter really gets into the swing of things.

Signing Class
The Rebels didn't sign highly-touted guards to coincide with the top tackles in the class. They did get two big-bodied Mississippi high schoolers though in Daronte Bouldin and Davion Johnson. I do tend to think that Bouldin could get a look at tackle later down the road simply because he has the frame for it, but the duo should play a factor in the Rebel depth chart at guard almost right away, if not after a redshirt years.