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Ole Miss Preview 2022: Linebackers

A linebacker named Willis you say? You have my attention

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 06 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game - Louisville v Ole Miss Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chance Campbell was awesome. Chance Campbell is gone. Chance Campbell, please come back.

The Ole Miss linebacker situation for the upcoming 2022 season is an enigma. But so was Chance Campbell when he transferred in from Maryland, and he was awesome. The Rebels would benefit from a repeat performance from one of its transfers this season as well.

The Ole Miss defense is a 3-2-6 with a Mike and Will linebacker. For clarity, the Mike is considered the middle line backer, Will is the weak side and Sam would be the strong side linebacker.

The linebacker room includes:

  • Troy Brown - Senior transfer from Central Michigan
  • Austin Keys - Redshirt Sophomore from Seminary High (2019-20 3 star)
  • Khari Coleman - Junior transfer from TCU [possible DE]
  • Trip White - 3 star Freshman from Parkview High (AR) [converted safety]
  • Jaron Willis - 4 star Freshman from Lee County High (GA) [fun fact: Mark Robinson’s cousin]
  • Tyler Banks - 3 star Freshman from Nottoway High (VA)
  • Reginald Hughes - Junior transfer from Northeast Community College
  • Ashanti Cistrunk - Senior from Louisville High (MS)
  • John Porchivina - Junior from Cal [4 years in the Marines as a machine gunner]
  • Danny Lockhart II - Sophomore transfer from USC
  • Cedrick Johnson - Junior from Davidson High (AL) [listed as DE]

While listed as a defensive end and playing more snaps at that position last season, Cedrick Johnson could be in line to be a starting linebacker, especially with the presence of Jared Ivey and Tavius Robinson at DE. Ashanti Cistrunk is the most veteran Rebel in the room while Austin Keys is the only returning Rebel in line for potential snaps.

Let’s sidebar here for a second. How dope is it that John Porchivina is on the roster? He will be a 27-year-old junior that originally enrolled at Cal in 2014. My man opted for the United States Marine Corps (editor’s note: SEMPER FI) and was a machine gunner for four years. Would love for him to get some opportunity as a grown ass man to play.

The transfers are really the ones to watch here. Troy Brown is going to start, dude can straight up play. As a senior, he was not transferring somewhere to not start, regardless of the upgrade to the SEC. He’s a three time All-MAC player with 215 career tackles. Here’s to Brown being this season’s Chance Campbell.

Can Reginald Hughes from Northeast CC step up as a JUCO transfer and make an impact? Will Khari Coleman be a factor or will he be moved to the defensive line? Is Danny Lockhart II a player or a recruiting chip to bring other, higher profile guys from USC?

Freshman Jaron Willis should also play early. It would’ve been dope if this was the son of former Rebel legend Patrick Willis, but let’s just hope instead for similar impact as he develops.

The linebacker room has to replace two NFL talents from a season ago and a ton of tackles. There will likely be a revolving door early in the season, giving guys chances to stand out, but I anticipate Brown, Cistrunk and Willis to be among the leader in snaps at the two positions.