Well hot damn, Ole Miss might have just picked up a starting linebacker for 2016. Rommel Mageo, a graduate transfer who led Oregon State in tackles last season, announced via Twitter that he's joining the Rebels. He'll be immediately eligible to play and, according to Ole Miss Spirit's Chuck Rounsaville, will join the team in June.
There's no way to overstate how huge this is for an Ole Miss defense in desperate straights at the linebacker position as it opens spring practice. Not only did Dave Wommack's D lose C.J. Johnson, Denzel Nkemdiche and Christian Russell from last year's team, it missed on five-star Mique Juarez and JUCO David Luafatasaga on Signing Day. Outside of last year's leading tackler, DeMarquis Gates, the rest of the guys on scholarship are either inexperienced youngsters or JUCO transfers who are still swimming.
The biggest questions heading into spring practice
Ole Miss starts practice on Wednesday. Over the next two weeks will get more info on the safety depth chart, Shea Patterson's role, who steps up at offensive tackle and more.
Mageo, who started eight games and piled up 87 tackles, two sacks and two picks, brings experience, size and play-making ability to a group that desperately needs all of the above.
How does he fit in?
He fits in because he plays linebacker, has two legs and two arms and is 6'2, 233-pounds. The American Samoa native was a force in the Pac-12 during his career, collecting 157 tackles in 36 games as a Beaver. Mageo has a really good chance to start in the middle for the Landsharks, which would allow Gates to stay in his natural outside linebacker spot and give young pups like Ray Ray Smith and Shawn Curtis time to learn the playbook.
Why is he transferring? From a quick perusing of the internet, it doesn't appear that there's any baggage here (not that we care -- come get some heppin', young fella!"). Mageo's decision may have something to do with his team going 2-10 and finishing 109th in defensive S&P+. If he's earned his degree and would like to do some winning while he's in college, why not head over to Oxford?
How good is this guy?
Here's an excerpt from SB Nation's Oregon State blog written after the 2015 season:
This kid has a non-stop, fast-running motor, and incredible instincts at the linebacker position. I just wish he wasn't going to be a senior! Mageo led the team in tackles, interceptions, sacks, and forced fumbles. He was also second in passes defended. Look for him to be the heart and soul of the defense next year.
And check out this guy flying around and making plays: