We are close to college football being back. Damn near a month away, y’all.
With that, fall camp is around the corner as well and all 31 members of the 2019 signing class have reported, enrolled in classes, and are preparing for their first season as an Ole Miss Rebel.
And since fall camp is around the corner, it is time to start making predictions. This week’s prediction is going to be about which signees will be seeing the field before the others. We will take a look at each position and talk about one player who is someone you should know and pay attention to this season.
The Rebels signed two four-stars in 2019, but there is one in my opinion you need to know this season.
John Rhys Plumlee.
The Hattiesburg, Miss. native arrived at campus standing 6’1 and 185-pounds and full of athleticism and swagger. When he was initially signed, folks thought he could eventually work his way into the secondary, but at SEC Media Days head coach Matt Luke confirmed that Plumlee will be at quarterback in 2019.
I anticipate he will get a few packages to run in Rich Rodriguez’s offense with some zone read concepts that are one read and go. The freshman can pick ‘em up and put ‘em down so him in the same backfield with another impact freshman sounds awfully dangerous.
This one is obvious. Five-star Jerrion Ealy will be seen early and often in Rodriguez’s offense and returning starter Scottie Phillips has to be excited about this as well. Not just a chance for him to get some much needed rest during games, but he will be able to have a lightning to his thunder in the run game.
Ole Miss held off Alabama and Clemson for Ealy’s signature and I anticipate him to explode on the scene in SEC football in 2019. During his four-year career at Jackson Prep, one that was shortened due to blowouts and an injury his senior year, Jerrion ran for 5,168 yards rushing and 73 touchdowns while also hauling in 1,454 yards receiving and 21 more touchdowns. He will be a useful weapon in the run AND pass game because of his dynamic skill set.
If the over/under for Ealy’s rushing yards is set at 500, I would be inclined to take the over. Fans should be excited for things to come in the next three years with him in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The tradition of badass pass-catchers wearing No. 1 continues with newcomer Jonathan Mingo. The Brandon, Miss. native checked in at 6’2 and 200-pounds but he might be bigger than that now that strength and conditioning coach Paul Jackson got his hands on him.
Luke and staff held off Georgia and Mississippi State for his services and I think coach Jacob Peeler will be hard-pressed this year to keep him off the field. To me, he is a hybrid of two former Rebels: Titans receiver A.J. Brown and Steelers receiver Donte Moncrief. He has the mannerisms of Brown and the after the catch elusiveness while looking a lot like Moncrief coming off the line and separating from defensive backs while going up for the football.
Fall camp need to hurry up...— Ogmingo1k (@ogmingo1k) July 19, 2019
Mingo is another guy that the Rebels will enjoy watching for the next few years.
This one was tough. Two guys that ultimately came to mind were Nick Broeker and Darius Thomas. Both have an opportunity to potentially play as true freshmen but for the sake of this post I’m going to go with Broeker. The Springfield, Ill. native and highest-rated three-star in the class should be someone to watch once camp starts at either of the tackle positions.
The Rebels are looking to replace a lot up front and Broeker is a super-talented line prospect who could help inside or outside. His future is on the island at tackle, but he is versatile enough to help now if Ole Miss needs him to. The 6’6, 288-pounder has the ideal length and frame you want and Ohio State tried to come in late to steal him away but coach Jack Bicknell wasn’t having it.
Mr. Broeker could be the next big thing in Oxford at left tackle.
There is a lot of hype around this position now that Ole Miss has shifted to a 3-4 and the perfect prospect for the switch is in Oxford and ready for fall camp.
Sam Williams was a monster for Northeast Mississippi Community College in 2018 and defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre needs that to continue in 2019. The No. 8 overall junior college prospect had 28 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks last season, causing Alabama and LSU to make a late run for the Montgomery, Ala. recruit.
The NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year will have a lot on his plate this season. He will need to get in Power 5, SEC football shape, learn Mac’s defense, and will be counted on to be a difference maker for Ole Miss. I won’t be surprised if he is, the guy is a freak athlete, who at 6’3, 258-pounds, can run a 4.5 40-yard dash and also do this:
Another position that had a few candidates for this post, I’m going to go with another Alabama native.
Three-star Le’Darrius Cox is a monster. The 6’5, 300-pounder from McGill Toolen High School should be a candidate in the middle to help plug the A gap and improve the Rebels’ run defense. Last season, it was abysmal and you can best believe that MacIntyre and coach Freddie Roach will put an enormous emphasis on stopping opponents in the trenches.
The Rebels flipped Cox from Tennessee and were able to hold off a late run from Auburn to secure his signature.
I want to say Ashanti Cistrunk here but in terms of impact and importance, I am going to go with Lakia Henry. The four-star junior college product was the highest-rated defensive signee for Luke and Mac and he will be counted on, like Williams at defensive end, to be the leader in the linebacker room.
The 6’2, 230-pounder from Vidalia, Ga. and Dodge City Community College was wanted by Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas but ultimately chose Ole Miss. And chose Ole Miss largely because the early playing time opportunity is there in spades. In two years at Dodge City, Henry made 187 tackles and 16 tackles for loss. If he can come close to half of that in both categories for the Rebels, it would be an outstanding first year for Lakia.
The one cornerback that jumps out to me as someone who will be on the field a lot in 2019 is Jalen Jordan. The Lake Cormorant, Miss. native is a dog, plain and simple. He packs quite the punch into his compact 5’9, 178-pound frame.
Jordan will get some looks in nickel corner concepts and will be a big-time contributor in special teams. He reminds me a ton of Mike Hilton and could be that kind of play maker close to the line of scrimmage and in coverage. He is a pesky defender and is not shy to mix things up.
I really like this dude.
Jones County Junior College’s Jonathan Haynes was expected to be in the mix as soon as he got on campus and he is already at the top of the pre-fall camp depth chart at strong safety. The 5’11, 208-pounder was a big-time JUCO recruit who had offers from Florida, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
One thing to know about Haynes?
He brings the fucking wood.
The secondary has been lacking in that aspect in recent years and Haynes will remind some fans of former Rebel and current Eagles safety Trae Elston. He will come down hill in a hurry and will flat cut someone in half. Because of his affinity for contact and the art of separating the ball carrier from the football, I think Haynes will be a huge piece of the third level and will make a big-time impact in 2019.