Back in early December, I took a look a far too early look at what a potential 2022 Ole Miss defense could look like. The piece wasn’t meant to forecast what the defense would actually be but highlight there was a decent foundation on which to build.
Since then, Ole Miss has gotten a commitment from Auburn transfer S/LB Ladarius Tennison, a former top 200 player. Obviously he’ll slot in somewhere, and the team is also waiting for news on several other potential transfers.
For the most part though, there’s some certainty on that side of the ball. On offense... not so much.
There are tons of transfer portal targets, but only one, Louisville WR Jordan Watkins, has actually materialized so far. The coaching staff has a lot of work to do in that area, but they also have a huge task in convincing multiple major contributors to stick around - it’s just a muddy situation.
Let’s look now at a possible starting 11 on offense next season.
QB Luke Altmyer | FR | 192 passing yards, TD
Right off the bat, it’s an unknown. Altmyer was highly recruited out of high school and performed admirably in limited action against Auburn this season, but trusting this team to an unproven option with zero alternatives is just not acceptable. Altmyer certainly could end up winning a competition this offseason, but there has to be a competition. He played quite well in the Sugar Bowl, and I’d argue that finding a definite starter in the portal is less of an issue than many of us thought. Still, it can’t just be him.
RB Snoop Conner | SR | 119 carries, 605 yards, 13 TDs
Henry Parrish could be the starter here as well, but it’s all semantics as this offense is typically by committee anyway. With Jerrion Ealy announcing he will go pro, there will be plenty of carries to go around the RB room. As you all know, Conner was a short yardage star for the Rebels this season. I expect his usage to go up next year without Ealy commanding 10 carries per game.
Snoop Conner‘s path to the end zone was right THROUGH a Louisville defender pic.twitter.com/5kF2tWqG1K— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 7, 2021
WR: Jonathan Mingo | SR | 20 catches, 313 yards, 3 TDs
Mingo only played in five games this year after an early injury derailed his season. While I’ve never fully been on the Mingo hype train, it’s clear he has a world of potential. Hopefully he realizes that as a senior. Kiffin’s offense does seem to trend toward targeting one WR more than others as fans saw in 2021 with Drummond at 67 catches and the next closest Braylon Sanders with 23. BUT the number one guy could be...
Jonathan Mingo with the answer. I wonder if Kentucky is going to try to run it again pic.twitter.com/PzZgbSVIM4— Ben Garrett (@SpiritBen) October 3, 2020
WR: Deion Smith | SO | 11 catches, 186 yards, 2 TDs
Smith also only played in five games this season, but his were for the LSU Tigers. I know, I know... he hasn’t announced he’s transferring to Ole Miss yet. I’ve heard it’s a near certainty though. He has lots of potential but hasn’t proven himself yet. Still, Smith (a former top 100 recruit) would be a huge addition to the wide receiving corps.
WR: Jordan Watkins | SO | 35 catches, 529 yards, 4 TDs
Transfers Watkins and Jalen Knox will both be operating in the slot this season, and both have shown proven ability to make things happen in this spot, albeit at different schools. Knox sat out last season after accruing over 1,000 yards in three seasons at Missouri. The two transfers are shifty players who can make things happen after the catch.
TE: Casey Kelly | JR | 17 catches, 150 yards, 1 TD
Kelly wasn’t electric this season though he only played in five games due to injury, but he’s a somewhat reliable option at the position. There’s room here for a better player, but Kelly is a strong floor for the position.
LT: Nick Broeker | SR
LG: Eli Acker | SO
C: Ben Brown | SR
RG: Caleb Warren | JR
RT: Jeremy James | JR
No individual write-ups for this group, but suffice it to say if the Rebels manage to return its entire starting offensive line outside of Orlando Umana, it will make things much, much easier for whoever is at quarterback in a year when the offense is rebuilding. Broeker and Brown aren’t certainties to return, but until an announcement either way comes from them, I’m penciling them in.