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Ole Miss Football Practice Report: Quarterback Quality a Strength for Rebels

Ole Miss football worked outside for the first time this spring as they continued spring drills Thursday on the practice fields outside of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The Rebels will wrap up Week 1 on Saturday morning. Saturday’s practice is closed to the public, but Rebel Nation will be able to get their first look at the 2023 Ole Miss squad during open practices on April 1 and April 8.

Gates for the open practice will open at 10:15 a.m., with the practice set to begin approximately at 10:45 a.m. The open practice times are subject to change. Seating will be available in the south grandstand.

Spring practice will culminate with the annual Grove Bowl, presented by Mississippi HomeCare on Saturday, April 15. Kick for the intrasquad scrimmage is slated for 2 p.m. CT and will be televised by SEC Network+ and ESPN+.

TRANSFER TO THE ‘SIP

Quarterbacks Spencer Sanders and Walker Howard are two of the 13 Division I transfers for Ole Miss that On3 currently ranks as the No. 4 class in the team transfer rankings.

The two quarterbacks will be part of a heralded transfer class that will hope to lead the Rebels to their fourth straight bowl appearance. 

“I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity here. Kiffin is a smart coach, as is Coach Weis,” Sanders said. “We’ve got a good team here and great players.

“I catch myself frustrated and down at times, leaving the situation I was in, but that’s life. You always have to be open to new opportunities and you can’t hold onto the past. God has a purpose and a plan for everything.

Howard, one of the nation’s top quarterback prospects coming out of high school in 2022, took a quick visit to Ole Miss and knew it was the next stop for him.

“We stopped by Ole Miss and I just fell in love,” Howard said. “The offensive system just kind of sold me, as well as the coaches. I also just really fell in love with Oxford.”

STACKED QB ROOM

Jaxson Dart, who started 12 games for the Rebels last season, returns for the 2023 season after completing 62 percent of his passes for 2,974 yards and 20 TDs. Add in two of the top quarterback transfers from the portal and Ole Miss is loaded at the signal-caller position.

“We probably have the most stacked quarterback rooms in the entire country,” Sanders said. “At the end of the day, it’s only going to make us all better.”

Sanders appeared in 43 career games for the Cowboys, earning 2019 Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and 2021 first team All-Big 12 accolades. He threw for 9,553 yards, ran for 1,956 yards and posted 85 total touchdowns during his four-year career in Stillwater. Sanders went 30-11 as a starter, which included an 11-2 mark in 2021.

“I’m just taking it one step at a time,” Sanders said. “You can’t try to make things happen in one giant step, so I’m going to do the little things. Little steps take care of the big steps.

“We all get along well. We were just doing yoga on the football field a few weeks back. We enjoy being out at practice with each other.”

READY TO COMPETE

The quarterback competition has drawn a lot of buzz around spring camp and it’s something that LSU transfer Howard isn’t shying away from. 

“I just like to compete,” Howard said. “I came here and talked to Coach Kiffin when I was in the portal. He (Kiffin) just told me he was going to give me an opportunity to compete. That’s all I really care about. It’s going to make me better, as well as all the guys around me.”

Howard is Ole Miss’ highest rated transfer according to 247Sports, coming in at No. 35. Howard appeared in two contests for the Tigers as a true freshman in 2022. He was rated as the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat QB by ESPN and listed No. 5 by 247Sports. 

The Elite 11 participant and 2020 Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year helped lead St. Thomas More to back-to-back state titles as a sophomore and junior.

“Last year was a redshirt year for me and I was able to learn a lot last year,” Howard said. “Just like now, I had two older guys in the room at LSU and they taught me tons. With this year, I came here to compete and that’s what I’m going to do every single day.”


Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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