Rommel Mageo was supposed to be a quick fix at middle linebacker for Ole Miss last season. But when he fell flat, the lack of depth behind him resulted in one of the most porous run defenses in the country. With linebackers routinely out of position, the Rebels gave up 1,948 rushing yards before first contact—nearly two and a half times the total rushing yards allowed by Bama.
Enter Mohamed Sanogo, a top-20 interior linebacker prospect who committed via Twitter to the Rebels during an announcement ceremony on National Signing Day. The 6’2, 239-pound three-star is the type of athletic, big-bodied defender who new Rebel coordinator Wesley McGriff hopes could become the future centerpiece of his defense.
Sanogo was at one time committed to Houston, but backed off that pledge in early January and took an official visit to Oxford a couple of weeks later. His other notable offers include those from UCLA, Baylor, Indiana and Boise State.
Excited to announce that I will be spending the next 4 years playing football and furthering my education at the University of Mississippi!! pic.twitter.com/t3E6dpvEnN— White Ranger ™ (@_momosanogo) February 1, 2017
How does he fit in?
Sanogo has the frame to contribute in the SEC immediately... which he may need to do. Mageo was a one-and-done grad transfer, leaving Bing-Dukes as the only holdover from last season with significant experience in the middle. There’s also rising sophomore Willie Hibbler, but his struggles in limited play in the second half of 2016 proved his transition from high school tight end to SEC linebacker has a ways to go.
Ole Miss is adding plenty of other linebackers in this class, but most of them are lighter, more athletic guys better suited for the outside. The best of the bunch, four-star early enrollee Breon Dixon, is just 205 pounds. Sanogo has the size to be a stopper in the run-heavy SEC West, but his flexibility in the open field still needs polishing.