The Ole Miss Rebels are coming off an outstanding season under Hugh Freeze. The Rebels finished the season 10-3 with plenty of positives including winning back-to-back games against Alabama, a Magnolia Bowl victory, an Egg Bowl win, and capping the season off with a thumping 48-20 Sugar Bowl win over Oklahoma State.
Looking towards next fall, the Rebels could be a little rattled with the junior standouts Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell, and Laremy Tunsil bypassing their senior season to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft. The Rebels will lose All-SEC defensive backs, Trae Elston and Mike Hilton, and a strong leader on defense, C.J. Johnson. Now the question stands for Rebel Nation: “Will the momentum continue to build?”
I strongly believe that this Ole Miss program will continue to be an elite team in college football. We have a top coach in the country in Hugh Freeze, who had his contracted extended through 2019. It is hard to believe that in just four years Coach Freeze brought Ole Miss from a 2-10 season to a 10-3 season with back-to-back New Year Six bowls. Freeze has led Ole Miss to a bowl game in each season he has been here and has also brought in outstanding recruiting classes year after year.
The Rebels also have a good bit of talent on the field to be a prominent team on the field next season, a season which Kelly says contenting for a National Championship is the goal for the Rebels. Chad Kelly did announce this week that he will play out his senior year in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which is outstanding news for Hugh Freeze, Dan Werner, and the Ole Miss coaching staff.
Quincy Adeboyejo could be the main target for Kelly next season with the loss of Treadwell. Adeboyejo is in the making of having a breakout year for Ole Miss in a passing system. The quick defensive end Marquis Haynes will be back in a Rebel uniform as he has led the Rebels in sacks the past two seasons. Haynes totaled for 10 sacks this season. Another guy I believe will be a standout is a bit of a dark horse: DeMarquis Gates, who led the Rebels with 76 tackles and filled the role of Denzel Nkemdiche.
The biggest reason for our future success under Coach Freeze is the way the Rebels recruit. This year’s recruitment is looking outstanding as the Rebels are ranked No. 2 in the country in the ESPN recruiting class rankings.
The Rebels already have plenty of verbal commits so far with National Signing Day yet to come. Shea Patterson has definitely been the household name for this Rebel recruiting class as he will be the Rebel future following Chad Kelly’s departure. Patterson participated in the Army All-American Bowl, throwing for two touchdowns for the West. Patterson is a lock for the Rebels 2016 recruiting class as he will be coming to Ole Miss for the spring.
Five-star offensive tackle Greg Little is another verbal commit for the Rebels who will fill the role of Laremy Tunsil as he can play a little bit of left and right tackle. Little will most likely settle at left tackle because of the vacancy at that position with no Tunsil. Little played at Allen High School in Texas. Plus the Rebels also nabbed four-star safety Jaylon Jones who played with Little at Allen High School.
Benito Jones is another verbal commitment to the Rebels recruiting class as the five-star defensive tackle, according to ESPN, has already had some experience inside of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Jones played for Wayne County who beat Oxford in the 5A State Championship.
The Rebels have also shown some hometown love as they have gotten commitment from four-star wide receiver out of Oxford High School, D.K. Metcalf who is son of former Rebel and NFL offensive lineman Terrance Metcalf. Metcalf participated in the Army All-American Bowl. Ole Miss also will bring in three-star offensive linemen Eli Johnson who is a senior at Lafayette High School.
Ole Miss still has plenty of targets who have yet to commit anywhere. Four-star defensive end Jeffrey Simmons who is from Macon, Mississippi has announced that he will make his decision on National Signing Day between Ole Miss, Alabama, and Mississippi State. He has no known preference at the moment.
Another highly touted defensive player, Deontae Anderson, is looking strongly in the direction of the Rebels. The number three ranked safety is a four-star from Manvel, Texas who has narrowed his schools down to Ole Miss, Texas, Texas A&M, and LSU. Ole Miss looks to be the favorite for the safety standout.
Another prospect for Dave Wommack and this Rebel defense is the number two outside linebacker in the country Mique Juarez who is a five-star from Torrance, California. Of course, being from the state of California, he is looking at UCLA as well as Ole Miss. Although Juarez is said to have no leader at the moment, he still signaled the Landshark after making a tackle in the Army All-American Bowl.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Rebels have a shot at four-star wide receiver from Starkville, A.J. Brown. Brown stands at 6’2 and could help fill that huge hole from the loss of Laquon Treadwell. Brown would definitely be a factor in this offense if he decides to come despite being from Starkville.
Whether you look at the coach, the returning players, or the recruits that we have already had committed, or are considering it’s evident that the future is bright in Oxford, Mississippi for the Ole Miss football program. The window of opportunity is open for Rebel Nation and the next stop is Orlando, Florida where the Rebels will face Florida State in the fall.
Grant Daniels, a student at Oxford High School, is a sports correspondent for HottyToddy.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org