Despite all the Phil Longo jokes, last season’s offense had its moments. A.J. Brown was named All-SEC for the second consecutive season after going over 1,200 yards receiving for the second-straight year. DaMarkus Lodge caught 65 passes for 877 yards and D.K. Metcalf, despite missing most of 2018, averaged 21.9 yards per catch.
But, all three of those dudes are gone and 2019’s unit will almost certainly have a much different look. Jacob Peeler returns Elijah Moore and Braylon Sanders, two who combined for 669 yards and two touchdowns and redshirt freshman Miles Battle who was awarded that distinction after appearing in just four games.
But, the incoming class is loaded with tons of talent that should help alleviate the losses of Brown, Metcalf, and Lodge. Not to mention, the new Hot Rod offense that Rich Rodriguez is installing will look MUCH different than Longo Ball.
The returning dudes need to step up.
If I’m going to make a prediction here in this post, it’s simple:
Elijah Moore will have a breakout campaign in 2019.
The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. native is a former four-star recruit that Georgia desperately wanted and I think he will prove to everyone why that was the case. He has the wiggle and the athleticism that Rodriguez wants in the slot and I also think he will be used in a variety of ways other than receiver.
As for Sanders, it’s time for him to take the next step.
Braylon Sanders checks in at No. 4 in terms of deep receiving yards so far this season pic.twitter.com/TomLKsm44j— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 13, 2018
The Hoganville, Ga. native has shown flashes throughout his first three seasons in Oxford, but he will be counted on big-time this season in Peeler’s room. He plays bigger than his 6’0, 190-pound frame and he, too, could play a huge role in the slot for Rodriguez’s scheme.
Lastly, Battle is another one who Ole Miss needs to step up. The 6’4, 198-pounder is the big-bodied receiver fans have grown accustomed to seeing on the outside and the former four-star recruit needs to take on a bigger role for Peeler in 2019. He has the frame and skill set to be a red zone weapon and then some.
The new crop is deep and skilled.
Peeler and the Rebels were able to sign two top-250 receivers and three other three-stars with more than capable frames and skill sets. Jonathan Mingo and Dannis Jackson are the headliners and the two who I think will get their fair share of snaps in 2019. Jadon Jackson is a burner who is ideal for the slot, Jordan Jernigan has been a pleasant surprise in camp, and Dontario Drummond is another big-bodied target who should find a role on the outside for Rodriguez.
All are 6’0 or bigger and will have their own spot in the Hot Rod offense. Mingo is an A.J. Brown clone who will be able to go inside or outside, Dannis and Jadon are slot receivers who will give linebackers fits, and Jernigan and Drummond will be used on the outside with their thicker frames.
Peeler might have lost the Big Three, but the new guys are ready to get their feet wet and then some.
These two wild cards are ready to take off.
Last season, Tylan Knight came out of nowhere as a two-star late signee who wasn’t expected to do much. He flashed in certain spots as a running back, but I think we will see him in the slot a lot in 2019. The Pearl, Miss. native who was named 6A Co-Player of the Year is a dynamic athlete who should thrive with the ball in his hands in the open field, especially with the depth of the receiver room around him opening things up.
The second wild card for 2019 is former three-star Demarcus Gregory. The 2018 signee from the Palmetto State was redshirted as a freshman after suffering a torn ACL his senior year of high school and appears to be back at full speed and strength and should be counted on anchoring one half of the field on the outside. Gregory is every bit of 6’1 and 220-pounds and ready to make an impact this season for Peeler and the nWo. His first snaps in college football are highly-anticipated and I, for one, am excited to see him in action.
Don’t forget about the tight ends.
Let’s be honest. Lots of wait and see here. Octavious Cooley showed a ton of flashes last year, but was never consistent enough to be a real force. Now that Dawson Knox is gone to the NFL, the position is his. He only had eight receptions last season but one of those went for a touchdown. I think Rodriguez’s offense will feature him much more.
Joining Cooley in the room will be quarterback-turned tight end Jason Pellerin and running back-turned tight end D’Vaughn Pennamon. The two new guys in the room bring athleticism and strength to the position. And the aforementioned Hot Rod offense is bound to feature a H-back that will come in handy in goal-to go scenarios when one of those two are matched up with a slower linebacker.
New tight ends coach Calvin Magee will be counting on seniors Cooley and Pellerin to bring a new element to the Ole Miss offense and this position should be interesting and hopefully fun to watch this year.