Exactly one week before Ole Miss takes the field against Florida State in Orlando, the Rebels have released an official two-deep (and in some places, three-deep). This depth chart isn't set in stone -- there's another week of practice for guys to make moves -- but this should be pretty close to the groups that trots out on Sept. 5. The only positions that I think are subject to change are middle linebacker (where Rommel Mageo will be given every opportunity to start) and strong-side defensive end (depending on the health of Fadol Brown).
|QB||Chad Kelly||Shea Patterson OR Jason Pellerin|
|RB||Akeem Judd||Eric Swinney|
|TE||Evan Engram||Taz Zettergreen|
|WR||Damore'ea Stringfellow||D.K. Metcalf|
|WR||Quincy Adeboyejo||DaMarkus Lodge||A.J. Brown|
|Slot||Van Jefferson||Markell Pack|
|LT||Rod Taylor||Greg Little|
|LG||Javon Patterson||Tyler Putman|
|C||Robert Conyers||Jacob Feeley|
|RG||Jordan Sims||Daronte Bouldin|
|RT||Sean Rawlings||Alex Givens|
|Strong DE||John Youngblood||Fadol Brown|
|Weak DE||Marquis Haynes||Victor Evans|
|DT||Breeland Speaks||Benito Jones|
|NT||D.J. Jones||Issac Gross|
|MLB||DeMarquis Gates||Rommel Mageo||Detric Bing-Dukes|
|OLB||Terry Caldwell||Tayler Polk||Ray Ray Smith|
|CB||Kendarius Webster||Carlos Davis|
|CB||Tony Bridges||Jalen Julius|
|Rover||Myles Hartsfield||Deontay Anderson|
|FS||Zedrick Woods||C.J. Hampton|
|Huskie||Tony Conner||A.J. Moore|
Fadol Brown's status is up in the air.
The incumbent starter at strong-side DE is still trying to get over the stress fracture that ended his 2015 season. Hugh Freeze said on Monday that the treatment session in Texas went well but that they wouldn't know anything for sure until Brown got out on the practice field Tuesday. Ole Miss needs him on the field against Florida State.
Freeze: Fadol Brown says he feels better and is optimistic.— Chuck Rounsaville (@SpiritChuck) August 29, 2016
It looks like Rod Taylor really is the starting left tackle.
With five-star Greg Little still working to adjust to college ball and Jeremy Liggins missing the majority of camp for a violation of team rules (he's back now), Taylor has firmed up the starting gig. A converted guard, he's not the ideal fit at tackle, but his athleticism should make him a solid enough stand-in until Little is ready to take over.
"You'd love for [Taylor] to be a little longer, but his feet are great," Freeze said after practice last week. "I'll take that out there. You've got to have great feet to play against these speed rushers that you have out there, and he's got some girth for the power rushers."
Freeze said on Monday that Little will be rotating in for reps.
Jordan Wilkins' ineligibility means a shakeup at RB.
Wilkins was in a neck-and-neck competition with Akeem Judd for the starting running back gig, but Ole Miss announced just three weeks before the opener that the junior is academically ineligible because of an "administrative error." The good news is that 1) we were already projecting Judd to be the primary ball-carrier this season and 2) explosive redshirt freshman Eric Swinney could end up being the perfect change-of-pace option behind the brutish Judd.
The Rebs need the transfer linebackers to step up.
DeMarquis Gates is listed as the starter in the middle and Terry Caldwell is starting outside. That's because Oregon State transfer Rommel Mageo and JUCO Detric Bing-Dukes are struggling to get up to speed with the new scheme.
"They have work to do, but they will help us," Wommack said. "They will help us against more physical teams, but right now things are just starting to run together a little on them."
The Rebs would certainly prefer to have Mageo man the middle and leave the smaller, more athletic Gates outside. Wommack did say that the linebacker personnel would depend on the offense being faced, and given that Florida State is a bit more of a finesse running attack, it wouldn't be surprising if Gates started inside for the first two games before giving way to Mageo against Bama's bludgeoning attack.
The secondary is going to be very young.
It sounds like three-star true freshman Myles Hartsfield is closing in on winning the starting rover position (what Ole Miss calls its strong safety), though four-star true freshman Deontay Anderson, who didn't have the advantage of taking part in spring camp, is nipping on his heels. Meanwhile, sophomore Zedrick Woods is beating out the experienced but inconsistent C.J. Hampton at free.