On Saturday, the Mid-American Conference announced that they were canceling the fall football season because of COVID player health & safety concerns. Unfortunately, there will be no MACtion this year (if we play football at all) but that means that several players will now be looking for a new home to play football this season.
Could that new home be Oxford?
There are several defenders from the MAC who now have nowhere to play college football. If they choose to leave their respective institutions of higher learning for a new Power 5 home, Ole Miss has plenty of room. Literally and figuratively.
Here are five potential additions to the Landsharks that you should keep an eye on:
Troy Brown — Outside linebacker, Central Michigan
The first name on the list is one of the most athletic linebackers in the country. He recorded the sixth-best coverage grade, per Pro Football Focus, among all linebackers in college football. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder would be an excellent addition to a defense that is in desperate need of play-makers at the line of scrimmage.
The first-team All-MAC defender made 91 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, and one sack a year ago for the Chippewas and would form quite the trio with Lakia Henry and Jacquez Jones.
Taylor Riggins — Strongside defensive end, Buffalo
The next possible transfer on the list is another All-MAC selection. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder was second in the conference in sacks in 2019 (8.5) and also made 50 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss.
Aquinas alum Taylor Riggins is all over preseason watch lists and for good reason. He’s set up to have a dominant senior season for Buffalo pic.twitter.com/7QcbpYwWAT— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) July 21, 2020
The former UMass Minuteman sports one of the best pass-rush win rates in the country and would be more than a suitable replacement for Sam Williams if he is unable to play again for the Rebels.
Malcolm Koonce — Strongside defensive end, Buffalo
Riggins’ teammate in New York is another dominating edge rusher that the Rebels could use on DJ Durkin and Chris Partridge’s defense. Koonce is one of the best returning edge defenders in the country after a spectacular 2019 where he made 34 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and had a team-best and conference-best nine sacks. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end could be one of the most sought-after transfers in the country now that MAC football is no more.
TURNOVER, BUFFALO!— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) December 20, 2019
Malcolm Koonce relentlessly pursues Chris Reynolds, he fumbles, and Ladarius Mack scoops up the ball!
Absolutely dominant defensive effort. pic.twitter.com/28jRr32xq8
Ali Fayad — Strongside defensive end, Western Michigan
The next defensive end on the list is from the other directional school from Michigan. The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder was a second-team All-MAC selection as a junior when he made 53 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and forced four fumbles. Fayad, like the others mentioned above him, is exactly the kind of playmaker the Ole Miss defense needs after last year’s unit showed tons of improvement but faded down the stretch.
Fayad is the impact edge rusher that Durkin and Partridge could use when trying to get stops on passing downs to get opponents off the field.
Sterling Weatherford — Free safety, Miami (Ohio)
The last name on the list is a secondary player from another Oxford. The Cicero, Ind. native started all 14 games in 2019 for the Redhawks, making 98(!) tackles, 10 pass break-ups, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and one interception. Per PFF, he recorded an 85.2 coverage grade, forcing more incompletions than first downs allowed. And to add to that, he allowed less than half a yard per coverage snap in the box, in the slot, and at free safety.
Weatherford is held in high regard by most of the media coming into 2020. The 6-foot-4, 218-pounder was a key cog for last year’s MAC championship team and would be an excellent addition to Blake Gideon’s room.
The Miami defense is why they won the MAC East. (Well, that and the East being mostly awful.) And they return at least one stud per unit, from DE Kameron Butler to DT Andrew Sharp to LB Ryan McWood to CB Emmanuel Rugamba to S Sterling Weatherford. pic.twitter.com/zaumpUVIya— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) March 23, 2020