Spring practice is underway in Oxford, as Lane Kiffin looks to retool on the go, rather than a total rebuild. With new coordinators on both sides of the ball and four returning starters on offense, spring football will give everyone the sneak peek they desire into how the Rebels can follow up their historic season.
QB: Jaxson Dart- SO/Luke Altmyer- SO
Although we have anticipate Dart to win the job, I do not believe it is his job from the jump. Sophomore Luke Altmyer performed admirably in the Sugar Bowl in place of the injured Matt Corral, showing interesting flashes he will look to build on. Jaxson has that Matt Corral/California swag about him, with a similar play style, so in the end Kiffin will like opt for the higher ceiling.
RB: Zach Evans - JR/ Ulysses Bentley IV - JR / Quinshon Judkins - FR
Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner both declared for the NFL Draft, while Henry Parrish transferred to Miami. Snoop was underplayed and the writing was on the wall for a repeat with the arrival of Zach Evans from TCU, the #2 RB in his high school class. There is little doubt that Evans will top the depth chart.
It is the arrival of SMU transfer Ulysses Bentley IV that makes things interesting as Ole Miss showed they will rotate three guys in if the talent is there. Judkins was the top RB in Alabama last year and currently the heaviest back on roster, so goal line carries may be in his future. Names like Kentrel Bullock and Isaiah Woullard are ones to watch for as well.
WRX: Jonathan Mingo- SR / Dannis Jackson- SR
Mingo should eat all season long with the departures of Braylon Sanders and Dontario Drummond from the WR room. His position as a starter on the outside is not in question. Dannis Jackson could compete to be opposite him, but he had a rather underwhelming season that did not lack opportunity to burst on the scene with the various injuries.
WRZ: Jalen Knox - SR / Malik Heath- SR
Malik Heath will not be on campus for spring ball, but should have no problem finding his way onto the field for the Rebels. Jalen Knox is a name Rebel fans should get to know, as the coaching staff is excited about this transfer from Missouri. He was two time SEC freshman of the week and is fourth all time in receiving yards at Mizzou for a true freshman. The talent is there for sure.
The sleeper here is Bralon Brown. Arguably the most exciting WR prospect on the roster. 6-3 four star prospect that has a chance to physically dominate the game on the outside. There are a lot of unknowns at WR heading into this season, but remember us at the Cup when Brown balls out.
SLOT: Jordan Watkins - JR/ Jeremiah Dillon - FR / Dayton Wade - JR
Jordan Watkins is going to go absolutely bonkers playing for Lane Kiffin. He ran a verified 4.38 40 yd dash and his speed across the middle of the field will be quite the weapon for the Rebels offense. There is little doubt he wins the job, but keeping an eye on true freshman Jeremiah Dillon and transfer Dayton Wade wouldn’t hurt.
TE: Michael Trigg - SO / Casey Kelly - JR
Kelly got the scholarship he deserved heading into this season, but the job is Trigg’s. Michael Trigg is a TE because he isn't explosive off the line and he is huge. But he is every bit the receiving option that will have immediate chemistry with Jaxson Dart. Ole Miss has a chance to be huge with Trigg, Mingo, Heath and Brown possibly lining up at the same time.
LT: Jeremy James - JR / Jayden Williams - FR
James played almost 1,000 snaps last season and is move to the all important LT position as Nick Broeker moves to LG in preparation for his NFL career. Jeremy will have his work cut out for him early, moving from the right to left side, but its comforting having someone with his experience protecting the blindside. Freshman Jayden Williams is currently the back and heir to the LT throne.
LG: Nick Broeker - SR / Jordan Rhodes - SR
Nick Broeker declining the option to enter the NFL Draft and returning to Ole Miss was a massive decision for the Rebels. He will be vacating his spot at LT to hone his craft as a Guard for the NFL, but a left side held down by he and Jeremy James will be just fine. Its his back up that is up in the air. Jordan Rhodes, Cedric Melton, and any of the incoming freshman could snag the 2 spot on the depth chart.
C: Caleb Warren - JR / Hamilton Hall - SR
Caleb Warren is also making a move this year, taking over at center, where some believe is his future in the NFL as well. Caleb is the third most experienced returning Rebel on the line, providing more continuity for a vital position group. He is expected to be backed up by Hamilton Hall.
RG: Eli Acker - SO / Reece McIntyre - JR
Eli Acker amassed 329 snaps last season and is a virtual lock to assume the starting RG position. While it is his to lose, guys like Reece McIntyre, Cedric Melton and other will be fighting for their chance to assume the helm.
RT: Mason Brooks - SR / Tobias Braun - SO
Finally, senior transfer Mason Brooks brings a ton of experience to the line and will likely slot in at the starting RT position, solidifying what looks to be a solid offensive line. 6-7 German Tobias Braun is currently his back up, and I personally look forward to garbage minutes where we see Braun absolutely own his opponents in the trenches.
There are 11 positions available on both side of the ball and for Lane Kiffin and the Rebels, it is likely that six of them will be filled by transfers. It will take time for the skill positions to click with their new signal caller and to learn the offense, but the offense looks ready for another high octane season in 2022.