When Arkansas linebacker Chris “Pooh” Paul committed to Ole Miss out of the transfer portal nine days ago, I said at the time that he would likely end up being the most impactful portal addition for Ole Miss this offseason. While I think that could still be the case, Lane Kiffin and co. are dead set on proving me wrong. The Rebs have since landed portal commits from three P5 starters at safety, a starting defensive end for Tennessee, and they currently lead for the top overall player in the transfer portal and a preseason All-SEC pick at wideout (more on all that in another post). However, the biggest get so far (and one of the biggest pickups by any team in the portal) was the commitment of Florida EDGE Princely Umanmielen, an elite pass rusher who surprised many by not declaring for the draft following the 2023 season. Listed at 6’5, 255 lbs, Umanmielen as a junior had seven sacks, leading the Gators and earning second-team All-SEC recognition.
Umanmielen is ranked as the #1 EDGE in the transfer portal, and the #3 player overall. His commitment comes just a few days after we learned that Cedric Johnson accepted an invite to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, indicating his plans to leave for the NFL after the Rebs end their season in the Peach Bowl. Johnson had an amazing Ole Miss career, despite playing behind Sam Williams for a couple of years, and playing through some nagging injuries later in his career. He’ll be missed for sure, but one could easily argue that Pete Golding’s defense is set for an upgrade at Johnson’s hybrid DE/OLB position with the addition of Umanmielen.
The Rebel defensive line as a whole is looking like it could be one of the top units in the country in 2024. Umanmielen likely claims a starting spot alongside returning starters JJ Pegues and Jared Ivey. Zxavian Harris returns after playing starter-level minutes this season and would currently slot in as the fourth starter along the defensive front. HOWEVER: Ole Miss is also now heavily favored to land the top overall portal player in Texas A&M defensive tackle Walter Nolan. The Rebs also landed Tennessee starting defensive end Tyler Baron. Contributors Akelo Stone and Jamarious Brown also return, and the Rebs are bringing in an elite class of high school defensive linemen, headlined by Mississippi’s top prep player, Kam Franklin.