By Adam Brown
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin took the podium at the SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, Tuesday to discuss the upcoming 2021 season.
Ole Miss is coming off of a 5-5 season in 2020, which was capped off with a 26-20 win over No. 7 Indiana in the Outback Bowl.
“The momentum that we have built, we feel it with our fan base and our players,” Kiffin said. “It has been good to have the recruiting back open so that kids can come and be around us. I think we have created some momentum there.”
This season, the Rebels are returning 17 players to the gridiron after losing wide receiver Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah to the NFL Draft. Kiffin and his staff will have eight returners on offense and nine on defense.
“We are really having our first spring (after COVID last year),” Kiffin said. “Look around the country, first-year staffs really struggle, especially on defense. We look to improve there.”
Ole Miss returns a large component of its offense “lead by the quarterback,” Kiffin said.
At quarterback, Matt Corral passed for 3,337 yards last season.
“(Corral) played as good as any player in the country, at times, last year,” Kiffin said. “He was first in the country in yards per game … first in the country in rushing a year ago.”
Junior running back, Jerrion Ealy will return this season after having shoulder surgery.
“Ealy’s fine,” Kiffin said. “He’s been working out with the team. We’re excited to have a fall with him now that we know more about him. Maybe we can move him around and do some different things.”
Coming into the 2021 season, Kiffin is excited to see what Corral can do on the field.
“Having a spring finally with him, he has never had a second year in a system, I think it is going to be good for him,” Kiffin said. “We were trying to figure him out last year too without having a spring. We didn’t have a starting quarterback when we went into camp.”
This season, the Ole Miss defense will be without linebacker Jacquez Jones who transferred to Kentucky.
“Just the world we live in,” Kiffin said. “Free agency just happens. We wish him the best of luck. Everybody has their reasons.”
This season, teams are dealing with name, image and likeness with student-athletes getting deals.
“It’s challenging to figure out what’s legal and what’s not,” Kiffin said. “I wouldn’t want to be the compliance department.”