Shea Patterson will have one fewer beastly receiver to target next season. In a move expected by most, Ole Miss wideout Damore’ea Stringfellow said in a Monday afternoon release that he plans to skip his senior season and declare for the 2017 NFL Draft.
"I cannot begin to express to Rebel Nation what an honor and privilege these last three years have been putting on the Ole Miss jersey each Saturday," Stringfellow said. "The fans' endless support, both on and off the field, has allowed me to grow and develop into the athlete and man that I am today.
"In that light, after much reflection and prayer, it pleases and saddens me to announce that I have decided to forgo my senior year and declare for the 2017 NFL Draft to pursue my dream of playing on Sundays. I would like to thank my family, coaches, professors and most of all the fans that have given me the love, courage and much needed prayer to go out and make Oxford proud. I truly would not have this amazing opportunity without you."
String arrived in Oxford after spending his freshman season at Washington. He sat out a transfer year, but emerged as a reliable playmaker for Chad Kelly last season. The long shadow of Laquon Treadwell limited String to just 58 targets as a sophomore, though he caught 62 percent of those for 503 yards and five touchdowns. His targets climbed to 81 as a junior this season, bumping him up to 716 yards and six scores. His 15.6 yards per catch led all Rebel receivers with at least 10 catches.
CBS Sports currently projects String as a fifth- or sixth-rounder, ranking him the 25th-best receiving prospect in the 2017 class. If he can put up impressive numbers in the NFL Combine and/or pro day, however, look for him to shoot up the board. At 6’2, 219 pounds, Stringfellow has the size and reach to become a reliable target at the next level.
His hands aren’t half bad either.
While Hugh Freeze certainly would have enjoyed having String back for another year, Ole Miss has more than enough depth at receiver to absorb the loss. The Rebels are absolutely loaded with elite young pass catchers, including former four-stars Damarkus Lodge, Van Jefferson, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Tre Nixon.