Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A Look Back at the Top Sports Stories of 2020

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

The year 2020 was unprecedented in the world of sports.

As the world adjusted to restrictions and lockdowns due to COVID-19, athletics at the University of Mississippi and elswhere were required to do the same.

On March 12, the SEC announced they would suspend all athletic events until the end of March due to the COVID-19 virus. This happened to be at the same time the Ole Miss baseball team was on its hottest winning streak in years, going 16-1 after dropping opening day to No. 1 Louisville.

The diamond Rebels were about to step into conference action and play host to the LSU Tigers. Ole Miss fans and retired University of Mississippi Dean of Students Sparky Reardon wrote a letter to the baseball team thanking them for their memorable season, and looking forward to the possibilities that awaited them in 2021.

Ole Miss Sports Productions turned this letter into a video.

In June, Ole Miss third baseman Tyler Keenan received the call every player who picks up a ball and bat one day hopes to get – a placement in the Major League Baseball draft. Keenan was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round as the 107th pick.

As summer turned into fall, many wondered if there would be a football season at all. In August, the SEC announced that the league would drop down from its normal 12-game schedule to a ten-game, conference only slate.

Meanwhile, newly hired Head Coach Lane Kiffin and his staff embarked on their first season in Oxford. It was an odd season without tailgating or large crowds of fans. Nevertheless, the Rebels played hard. The theme of the season, unfortunately, became “almost” as Ole Miss went 4-5, a record that could have easily been swayed by one or two plays in games like the one against Alabama.

Heading into the month of December, Kiffin had the Rebels on a three-game winning streak as the team headed into Death Valley to face LSU. That same week, Kiffin and his staff brought in a top 20 recruiting class to Oxford as they signed 23 players highly sought after players. Luke Altmyer, Markevious Brown, Dink Jackson, Bralon Brown and Hudson Wolfe, were a few of the big names in the early-signing class, just to name a few.

Prior to Ole Miss’ match against LSU, key players Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah opted to forgo their last games with the Rebels in favor of preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. In eight games, Moore recorded 1,193 receiving yards that rank No. 3 in the Ole Miss single-season record books.

Ole Miss will open the new year of 2021 in the Sunshine State. The Rebels will take on the Indiania Hoosiers at the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2. This will be the first bowl game for the Rebels in five years since the team beat Oklahoma State in the 2016 Sugar Bowl.