Evan Engram told members of the media on Thursday afternoon that he plans on sticking around in Oxford for another season.
"[After] gathering a lot of information from coaches and other sources and talking to my family, I've decided that it's best to return for my senior year," the star tight end said, via The Clarion-Ledger.
Freeze said during his Monday press conference that Engram, who submitted a scouting request to the NFL, was "still in the air." Engram said he hasn't gotten that grade back, but that he'd been getting direct feedback from scouts and GMs who advised him to get another year of college football under his belt. It sounds like the primary concern is his size: the 230-pound Engram said "they know I can catch and be explosive down the field -- they just want to see me put a little weight on."
"I think this offseason, [I'll] just really work on getting stronger, getting bigger and being able to still keep my speed."
Engram didn't specify what feedback he got from scouts, etc., but the Bucs and Patriots had him with a mid-round (third or fourth) grade.— Ben Garrett (@SpiritBen) December 18, 2015
Here's video of Engram's full explanation:
Freeze said Monday that he expects preseason All-American Tony Conner to return. Throw in defensive tackle Issac Gross (who was given a medical redshirt after a season-ending neck surgery in early September), and that's a trio of star players the Rebs didn't expect to have back in 2016.
It was almost a foregone conclusion coming into this season that Engram would declare for the 2016 Draft alongside Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil and Laquon Treadwell. With Chad Kelly behind center, most of us figured Engram would blow away the 38 receptions, 662 yards and two scores he posted last year -- instead, he has just 32 grabs for 332 yards and two touchdowns. He's gone over 50 yards receiving just once all season (58 against LSU) and didn't find the end zone until the eighth game.
It's hard to speculate exactly what's caused Engram's relatively light involvement in the offensive game plan, but it probably has something to do with how much emphasis the coaches have put on getting Treadwell the ball.
But here's the deal: whoever's throwing the ball for Ole Miss next year, be it Swag Kelly, Shea Patterson or (gulp) Ryan Buchanan, will have a TON of targets. Here's a quick look at the potential 2016 depth chart:
(2015 stats in parentheses)
Damore'ea Stringfellow (36 catches, 503 yards, 5 TDs)
Markell Pack (29 catches, 370 yards, 3 TDs)
DaMarkus Lodge (1 reception, 12 yards, 1 TD)
Van Jefferson (4-star redshirt freshman)
Quincy Adeboyejo (37 catches, 581 yards, 7 TDs)
D.K. Metcalf (four-star incoming freshman)
Evan Engram (32 catches, 332 yards, 2 TDs)