Ole Miss ended up having a solid batch of portal additions after the 2022 season, but to say the vibes were a little “off” this time last year would be an understatement. After a much stronger finish to the 2023 season, and the absence of drama surrounding Lane Kiffin and the rest of the coaching staff, the Rebs have carried quite a bit more momentum into offseason roster management.
Lane Kiffin and Pete Golding started off portal season with a bang Friday night, landing a commitment from Chris Paul, a standout linebacker for Arkansas. “Pooh” Paul, as he is nicknamed, is currently the #1 linebacker in the portal, and comes to Oxford with two years of eligibility remaining.
After a great visit with @OleMissFB, I’m excited to announce I am 1000% committed to the University of Mississippi!! ❤️ I want to thank all the coaches that extended multiple opportunities to me throughout this journey!! @Lane_Kiffin @CoachGolding pic.twitter.com/tX1IRTuTmL— POOH (@PoohPaul4) December 9, 2023
Following the 2022 season, Paul was named to the All-SEC freshman team, and was also named a freshman All-American, starting alongside two of the best linebackers in the country in Drew Sanders and Bumper Pool. For 2023, Paul finished second on the team with 74 tackles, also grabbing a pair of sacks on the year. Listed at 6’1, 233 lbs, Paul’s freshman year highlights (I couldn’t find any for his sophomore year) show solid closing speed, effectiveness as a blitzer, and strong tackling ability.
For next season, Paul seems likely to be the headliner of a linebacker corps at Ole Miss that will also feature the likes of Khari Coleman (if he returns for his COVID senior season), Suntarine Perkins, Ladarius Tennison, Clemson transfer TJ Dudley, and JUCO star Raymond Collins.
Pooh Paul is still in Oxford on his official visit; the Rebs are also hosting Indiana offensive tackle Carter Smith, and landed a surprise visit from South Carolina star wide receiver Antwane “Juice” Wells, currently ranked as the #1 player at his position in the portal. Wells is a guy I didn’t pay much attention to when some of the Rebel recruiting reporters listed him as a player to watch, but it seems like things may be progressing quickly between Ole Miss and the 2023 pre-season All-SEC pick. Wells’ season was cut short by injury, but he’s an absolute star when healthy, with over 2,800 career receiving yards in his SEC career. 247 Sports’ Ole Miss reporter David Johnson logged a prediction last night that Wells would commit to the Rebs; we’ll keep our eyes peeled and see how it shakes out.