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The State of the Ole Miss Football Roster: February 2023.

If you have a rich, active social life, this post may not be for you. If you neurotically ruminate on the Rebels’ football roster numbers: hello, friend.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

During the first transfer portal recruiting period of the offseason, which ran from December 5 through January 18, over 1,800 players entered the portal. A second, shorter transfer portal window opens on May 1, running through May 15. Ole Miss, arguably the biggest beneficiary of 2021’s portal season, reeled in quite a haul from the portal in 2022, but also lost more valuable players to other programs this offseason. With the evolution of the transfer portal era of college football, the 25 scholarships per signing class limit is now defunct; roster turnover has never been crazier.

Luckily for you, the reader, I compulsively keep track of Ole Miss roster developments. With this post, my goal is to provide a (mostly) complete view of how the 2023 Ole Miss squad is shaping up, personnel-wise.

First, let’s start with who’s leaving. The Rebel players who hit the portal during the December window are:

  • QB Luke Altmeyer (Illinois)
  • QB Kinkead Dent
  • RB Kentrell Bullock (South Alabama)
  • RB Isaiah Woullard (UL-Monroe)
  • WR Jaylon Robinson (TCU)
  • WR Dannis Jackson (Mizzou)
  • OL Hamilton Hall (Arkansas State)
  • OL Jalen Cunningham (Arkansas State)
  • OL Erick Cade
  • OL Tobias Braun (Arkansas State)
  • OL/DL Luke Shouse
  • DL Isaiah Iton (Rutgers)
  • EDGE Brandon Mack (Houston)
  • EDGE Demon Clowney (Charlotte)
  • LB Austin Keys (Auburn)
  • LB/S Jaron Willis (South Carolina)
  • CB Davison Igbinosun (Ohio State)
  • CB Miles Battle (Utah)
  • CB Kyndrich Breedlove (Colorado)
  • S Tysheem Johnson (Oregon)
  • S MJ Daniels (USM)
  • S Derek Bermudez
  • S Roman Rashada
  • S Dashaun Jerkins (UMass)

***WR Bralon Brown, DL Jamond Gordon, and LB Ashanti Cistrunk entered the portal, but rejoined the team for Spring ball***

In all, 24 players; 10 on offense, 14 on defense. Of those 24, there are four who logged any starts the last couple of years (T. Johnson, D. Igbinosun, M. Battle, A. Keys), and five more (J. Robinson, J. Willis, M. Daniels, D. Jerkins, K. Breedlove) appeared to be in line to contribute much in 2023. So while you could consider most of these portal entries “healthy” attrition, it’s still quite a feat to replace 24 scholarship players on top of the guys graduating and/or leaving for the NFL. That list of players is mostly settled; here is my best guess at players graduating and/or leaving for the NFL:

  • RB Zach Evans
  • WR Jonathan Mingo
  • WR Malik Heath
  • TE Jonathan Hess
  • OL Nick Broeker
  • OL Mason Brooks
  • DL KD Hill
  • DL Tavious Robinson
  • LB Troy Brown
  • S AJ Finley
  • S Otis Reese
  • K Jonathan Cruz

So, taking the current roster, then eliminating portal entries and seniors/other early departures, here are the scholarship players Ole Miss likely returns, sorted by position:

QB: (1)

  • Jaxson Dart

RB: (2)

  • Quinshon Judkins
  • Ulysses Bentley IV

WR: (8)

  • Jordan Watkins
  • Dayton Wade (Wade was a walk-on, but I expect him to receive a scholarship)
  • Jalen Knox
  • JJ Henry
  • Brandon Buckhaulter
  • Bralon Brown
  • Larry Simmons
  • Jeremiah Dillon

TE: (4)

  • Michael Trigg
  • Casey Kelly
  • Kyrin Heath
  • Hudson Wolfe

OL: (11)

  • Jayden Williams
  • Eli Acker
  • Caleb Warren
  • Jeremy James
  • Micah Pettus
  • Cedrick Nicely
  • Cedric Melton
  • Cam East
  • Reece McIntyre
  • Falentha Carswell
  • Preston Cushman

DL: (11)

  • JJ Pegues
  • Cedrick Johnson
  • Jared Ivey
  • Zxavian Harris
  • Tywone Malone
  • Jamond Gordon
  • Desanto Rollins
  • JJ Hawkins
  • Jak Brown
  • Demarcus Smith
  • Jaden Dicks

LB: (5)

  • Khari Coleman
  • Ashanti Cistrunk
  • Trip White
  • Tyler Banks
  • Reginald Hughes

CB: (4)

  • Deantre Prince
  • Markevious Brown
  • Demarko Williams
  • Jarrell Stinson

S: (6)

  • Isheem Young
  • Ladarius Tennison
  • Trey Washington
  • Taylor Groves
  • Nick Cull
  • Elijah Sabbatini

K: (1)

  • Caden Costa

P: (1)

  • Fraser Masin

That’s 54 returning scholarship players. Ole Miss signed 12 players in the early signing period, and four more in the late signing period, for a total of 16 incoming freshmen/JUCOs. Those 16 are:

  • RB Kedrick Reescano
  • WR Ayden Williams
  • WR Caden Lee
  • TE Jayvontay Conner
  • OL Brycen Sanders
  • OL Ethan Fields
  • OL Mana Taimani (JUCO)
  • DL Jamarious Brown
  • DL Chamberlain Campbell
  • DL DeeJay Holmes
  • LB Suntarine Perkins
  • LB Skielar Mann
  • LB Jameer Lewis (JUCO)
  • DB Braxton Myers
  • DB Ahmad Brown
  • DB Daniel Demery

That brings us to 70 total scholarship players. Then, we factor in the Rebels’ 12 portal additions:

  • QB Walker Howard
  • QB Spencer Sanders
  • WR Chris Marshall
  • WR Tre Harris
  • TE Caden Prieskorn
  • OL Quincy McGee
  • OL Victor Curne
  • DL Joshua Harris
  • LB Monty Montomery
  • LB Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste
  • CB John Saunders
  • CB Zamari Walton

You may notice I left North Texas DB DeShawn Gaddie off this list. He committed to the Rebels, but was not among the group announced by the OM football social media team. He appears to have some sort of transcript issue. I think they’ll still eventually add him, but maybe not until summer.

That appears to put Ole Miss at 83 scholarship players, leaving Lane Kiffin with just two scholarships to play with in the second portal period. That number could grow slightly, as more current players could hit the portal or decide not to use their extra COVID year of eligibility, and I can even think of a couple of guys that could retire for health reasons.

Scholarships are relatively evenly divided at 41 on offense, 40 and defense, and two on special teams. Position groups are mostly balanced as well, though a couple of things stick out:

  1. There are currently only three scholarship running backs; one of those was banged up all year in 2022 (Bentley IV), and one will be a true freshman who I don’t believe will have the benefit of Spring ball (Reescano).
  2. There are currently six scholarship tight ends on the roster (Prieskorn, Trigg, Kelly, Heath, Conner, Wolfe), which seems a little bloated, imo.

Besides potential movement at those two positions, I think Lane Kiffin will try to use the second portal period to add best-available players, mostly targeting defensive line, linebacker, and safety.

I’ve included a screenshot of the rough spreadsheet I’ve been using to keep track of roster changes. Keep in mind the order of the players (and in some cases, even the position where they’re listed) is purely speculative on my part.

Drop us a comment to let us know what you think of the roster heading into 2023, and if we’ve made any errors (which is more likely than not), don’t hesitate to straighten us out.