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Three Ole Miss Defenders Enter Transfer Portal.

Pete Golding’s defensive rebuilding efforts just got a little tougher

Ole Miss v Texas A&M Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Three Ole Miss defenders jumped in the transfer portal on Wednesday, creating crisis-level depth situations at at least two positions.

Dual-sport fan favorite Tywone Malone entered his name in the portal after two seasons of not living up to the hype he brought to Oxford as a top-100 overall recruit in the 2021 class. Malone seemingly could have played a much larger role on the football team than he did as a mid-week designated hitter for the baseball team, but it appears that his continual time away from the football program affected his ability to contribute. He had 10 total tackles in 2022. It’s unclear whether Malone is looking for another program where he can play both sports, but if he chooses to focus on football at his next destination (if Ole Miss doesn’t manage to hold on to him), his new team will be getting a 6’4, 300 lb athlete who moves exceptionally well for his size. Ole Miss sorely lacks depth at defensive tackle. JJ Pegues is a borderline all-SEC caliber player, and Josh Harris and Zxavian Harris make a really good combo at nose tackle, but behind them are tweener DE/DTs Jamond Gordon and Demarcus Smith, and… that’s about it.

Junior Markevious Brown is an even bigger loss than Malone, as he earned a lot of playing time last year as essentially the fourth cornerback for the Rebel D, behind Deantre Prince, and portal casualties Miles Battle and Davison Igbinosun. Brown had 19 tackles and two pass breakups in 2022. The depth situation at cornerback is pretty dire. The Rebs also lost cornerback Kyndrich Breedlove to the portal; he was roughly neck-and-neck with Brown before nagging injuries cut his 2022 season short. So behind presumed starters Deantre Prince and Georgia Tech transfer Zamari Walton, Ole Miss has Demarko Williams and Jarell Stinson, both of whom played mostly special teams last year, and then true freshmen AJ Brown and Braxton Myers. Walk-on Richard O’Bryant played extensively with the first team defense in Spring training.

Finally, sophomore safety Elijah Sabbatini is looking for a new home after playing sparingly in 2022. He has decent size at 6’1, 200 lbs, and looked pretty good in the Grove Bowl (though the lack of true, live tackling made it impossible to judge defenders). He was likely behind starters Isheem Young, Ladarius Tennison, and Trey Washington, as well as Miami (OH) transfer John Saunders and redshirt freshman Taylor Groves.