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THE PORTAL IS OPEN; NOT A DRILL

Ole Miss (and every other college football team) can start reloading its roster starting today

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 24 Mississippi State at Ole Miss Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

HAPPY PORTAL SZN!!! Starting today, players can enter their names into the NCAA’s transfer portal, allowing coaching staffs across the country to reach out and start recruiting them. We’ve already started talking about some major targets that have already declared their intention to enter the portal, focusing first on several potential targets at wide receiver and tight end. Now that the portal is officially open, we’re expecting a huge influx of players in search of a new landing spot. We’ll dig deeper into Ole Miss’ top portal targets, once we figure out who they are, but for now, we’re going to throw a bunch of names against the wall and see who sticks. The prospects listed below are not necessarily Ole Miss targets, nor are they necessarily the top-rated players at their given positions. This list of players is compiled based on a loose combination of factors:

  • If we’ve heard Ole Miss may be interested
  • If they were recruited by Ole Miss out of high school
  • If they have some pre-existing connection to Ole Miss coaches or players
  • If they seem like a fit at a position of need

So for example, we’re not going to spend much time talking about the absolute best quarterbacks and running backs entering the portal, because Ole Miss isn’t on the lookout for starters at those spots. Let’s dive into some of the most relevant recent portal additions:

QB:

Nick Evers, Oklahoma (stats): Ole Miss recruited the four-star 2022 prospect out of high school, and Evers is already looking for greener pastures; you don’t really sign with Oklahoma expecting to go 6-6. Ole Miss definitely needs a body in the QB room to go along with Jaxson Dart and incoming true freshman Marcel Reed. The Rebs could target a grad transfer clipboard holder, or they could target a guy like Evers, who could compete for the starting job in 2024 should Dart leave for the NFL.

WR:

Rara Thomas, Mississippi State (stats): Thomas expressed his intent to enter the portal a few days ago, and ever since, there has been buzz that the Bulldogs’ leading receiver might be considering Ole Miss. Thomas will have other major SEC suitors, but the Rebels will likely put the full-court press on the talented sophomore.

EJ Williams, Clemson (stats): a former top-100 consensus player, Williams had a productive true freshman campaign in 2020, but followed it up with two disappointing seasons with 9 and 7 receptions in 2021 and 2022. Still, Ole Miss needs receivers, and could probably get production out of guys like Williams who have been struggling at blue blood programs.

Elijah Spencer, Charlotte (stats): If you’ve paid close attention to the portal, you may recall that Spencer’s teammate and fellow wideout Grant Dubose already declared his intent to hit the portal. Spencer and Dubose are by far Charlotte’s two top targets; will one or both get a chance to prove themselves in the SEC?

Dante Cephas, Kent State (stats): a class of 2019 prospect, Cephas has been super productive at Kent, earning first team all-MAC honors each of the last two years.

TE:

AJ Barner, Indiana (stats): Indiana’s top tight end hit the portal to find a new home for his last two years of college eligibility. The 6’6 junior had 28 catches for 199 yards and three scores this year.

Blake Smith, Texas A&M (stats): Smith had great offers as a three star out of Southlake Carroll in 2020, but hasn’t made much of a mark at A&M. Still, Ole Miss needs tight ends, and A&M has a roster full of talented guys looking for a chance to play for a winner.

OL:

Javion Cohen, Alabama (stats): Cohen has started at guard for Alabama most of the past two seasons; he is the third Crimson Tide linemen to jump in the portal, following Damieon George and Tanner Bowles. George has started a few games, and Bowles has served as a valuable backup, but Cohen’s extensive starting experience will make him a premier portal target.

DL:

Braden Fiske, Western Michigan (stats): Fiske is one of the few prospects on this list that we know Ole Miss is actively recruiting; the Rebels joined several other major programs in officially offering the Bronco grad transfer. Fiske has been super productive in four seasons at defensive tackle for Western Michigan after entering school as an undersized offensive guard prospect.

Andre Carter, Western Michigan (stats): The Rebels could also pursue Fiske’s teammate, fellow defensive lineman grad transfer Andre Carter. Carter had 67 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles this season.

LB:

Dasan McCullough, Indiana (stats): It’s relatively rare to see a freshman phenom enter the portal… why leave when you’re crushing it in your first year of college ball? McCullough fits that bill, though; at 6’5, 230 lbs, the Indiana native had 48 tackles, 4 sacks, and 3 passes defended as a true freshman this year. A former top 100 recruit, McCullough’s dad was IU’s running backs coach. Deland McCullough recently took the same job at Notre Dame, so the writing may be on the wall for Dasan to follow his father to South Bend. Still, if you’re Ole Miss… back the NIL truck up to the McCullough residence and see what happens.

Mason Cobb, Oklahoma State (stats): lightly recruited out of the class of 2020, Cobb did very little in Stillwater his first two years, before breaking out with a 96 tackle performance in 2022. A Provo, Utah native, it’s possible Cobb might have some connections to Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart.

Julien Simon, Southern Cal (stats): Simon hasn’t registered any stats as a Trojan, but the 2021 consensus four-star could still attract some major suitors.

Terrell Tilmon, Oregon: Tilmon started his college career as an outside linebacker, registering a few special teams tackles in 2021. The Ducks asked the former Arlington, TX standout to switch to tight end for 2022. Tilmon didn’t register any catches for Oregon this year. Tilmon reportedly wants to move back to the defensive side of the ball for his new team, but I think his experience at two different positions of need for Ole Miss makes him an intriguing prospect.

Levani Damuni, Stanford (stats): With 76 tackles in 2022, 86 in 2021, and 42 in 2020, Damuni has been a force on the Cardinal defense for three years. A Utah native, Damuni’s transfer portal announcement did not go unnoticed by Jaxson Dart’s dad.

Gaethen Bernadel, Florida International (stats): Is it good to have 102 tackles in your sophomore year? Seems good to me.

DB:

Jaxen Turner, Arizona (stats): a major presence on the Wildcat defense, Turner had 79 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions this year at safety.

Fentrell Cypress II, Virginia (stats): a redshirt sophomore this year, Cypress started at cornerback for the Cavs, earning second-team all-ACC honors.

Davonte Brown, UCF (stats): a three-year contributor at cornerback for the Golden Knights, Brown is a 6’1 defensive back who should garner some P5 attention.

Antavious Lane, Georgia State (stats): With 80+ tackles at safety each of the last two years, Lane is likely looking for a bigger stage on which to highlight his talents for his final year or two of eligibility.

We’ll undoubtedly have a new list up in the next day or so with a whole new batch of names to watch; stay tuned!