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PORTAL SZN Tracker: Ole Miss nearing commitments from two coveted linebackers?

A lot of stuff going on, y’all

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 23 Arkansas at LSU Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the transfer portal officially open, the next few weeks are going to bring a whirlwind of new developments each day, as Lane Kiffin and his staff begin the months-long process of rebuilding the Rebel roster for 2024. Here’s the latest from the first full day of portal action.

Yesterday, Ole Miss cornerback Demarko Williams announced his intent to enter the portal. At different times this year, he served as anywhere from the #3 to #5 cornerback for the Rebel D, but with starters Deantre Prince and Zamari Walton out of eligibility, and top backup DeShawn Gaddie’s eligibility status unclear, it certainly would have been nice for Williams to return for his junior year.

Currently, Pete Golding’s top options at corner next year are Chris Graves, a freshman transfer from Miami who came on strong and split snaps with Walton late in the season, sophomore reserve Jarrell Stinson, true freshman AJ Brown, and walkon Richard O’Bryant. It’s an enormous position of need that isn’t being talked about much, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled for what the Rebs do here.

So far, the only other portal casualties for Ole Miss are TE Kyrin Heath, K Caden Costa, and walkon WR/DB Rayf Vinson. There will definitely be more, but I wouldn’t look for Ole Miss to be one of the leaders in portal departures like last year. It seems like a good sign that the damage has been so minimal to date.

In better news, let’s talk about a few portal prospects at positions of need that Ole Miss is working on:

WR:

Will Sheppard (Vanderbilt)

Vanderbilt’s leading receiver the past two seasons, Sheppard would be a grad transfer with one season of eligibility. Listed at 6’3, 200 lbs, Sheppard would give the Rebs a big presence on the outside. Sheppard will have options, but Ole Miss has definitely popped up as a strong candidate.

Antwane “Juice” Wells (South Carolina)

Wells was a preseason All-SEC selection, but his season was cut short by a foot injury. Another big-bodied grad transfer, but with two years to play.

OL:

Carter Smith (Indiana)

Smith started at left tackle for the Hoosiers this season as a redshirt freshman. A former four-star prospect, Smith is visiting Virginia Tech, but also said he is interested in visiting Ole Miss.

Spencer Brown (Michigan State)

A grad transfer with one year left, Brown started at right tackle for the Spartans this year. Ole Miss is definitely involved here, but a potential visit reportedly fell through, so we’ll see if Kiffin can get him on campus.

Gerquan Scott (Southern Miss)

A starter at left guard for the Golden Eagles, Scott has already visited Ole Miss and is probably the closest to committing out of all the offensive linemen the Rebs are recruiting. He says he’s still going to visit Auburn and South Carolina.

DL:

Walter Nolan (Texas A&M)

A former star at Olive Branch before moving on to IMG Academy, St. Benedict at Auburndale High School, and ultimately Texas A&M, Nolen was at one time the #1 overall player in the country for the 2022 class. Nolan has been an impact player for the Aggies, but maybe not a “#1 overall prospect” level impact. Ole Miss will be buying a lottery ticket here, but the prize will be… paying Walter Nolan 7 figures. Still, all the crootin’ experts are at least giving the Rebs a fighting chance to add the ultra-talented DT.

Marley Cook (MTSU)

An under-the-radar underdog story, Marley Cook was a *very* lightly-recruiting prospect out of Water Valley (MS) HS in 2019, then rated as an offensive guard and the #56 player in Mississippi, according to On3. Now, he’s a highly-coveted defensive tackle after five years in Murfreesboro. The grad transfer will have one year of eligibility, but already has offers from a ton of top programs, including Ohio State, who might be his current leader. Ole Miss is involved, but it’s not clear where they stand. Still, a very cool story to keep an eye on.

LB:

Chris “Pooh” Paul (Arkansas)

247 Sports Ole Miss reporter David Johnson has predicted Chris Paul will transfer to Ole Miss, providing an upper-tier SEC starter at linebacker. In his redshirt sophomore year for the Razorbacks, Paul was second on the team in tackles. His speed, anticipation, and tackling ability really pop on film.

Sam Brumfield (MTSU)

Brumfield led the Blue Raiders in tackles this year, and as a 2020 prospect, would arrive at his new school with either one or two years of eligibility. A Pearl, MS native, Brumfield has visited Ole Miss and like Chris Paul, could commit at any time.

DB:

Key Lawrence (Oklahoma)

I don’t know anything about where Lawrence is in the recruiting process, but Ole Miss has been mentioned as an option for the senior transfer.

Will Lee (Kansas State)

Again, no info on the degree of Lee’s interest in Ole Miss, but the Rebels have offered, and cornerback is a huge position of need. Lee is a 2021 prospect who spent two years in junior college before starting at KSU this year.

Jakobe Thomas (MTSU)

The second-leading tackler for MTSU this year, I believe Thomas was on campus in Oxford at the same time as Brumfield. Originally a class of 2021 prospect, Thomas would have either one or two years of eligibility left. He’s listed as having played just one game in 2021, but is also listed as a junior?