OXFORD, Miss. — As we count down the days until the Ole Miss season opener against Memphis in the Liberty Bowl, we are releasing who we think the Top 50 Most Impactful Players will be for the Rebels this season. This series is a way for Ole Miss fans to learn more about players to keep an eye on this fall.
With 34 days before kickoff, coming in at No. 34…
Isaiah Woullard, a 5-foot-9, 198-pound running back from Hattiesburg, Miss., signed with Ole Miss in the class of 2017. But it would be a circuitous route before the standout from Presbyterian Christian High School would play for the Rebels.
Woullard spent the summer of 2017 in Oxford, attending classes as a gray shirt, meaning he was paying his own way for school until placed on athletic scholarship. While he was originally told he would be placed on scholarship in August of 2017, Woullard was later asked to wait until the December signing period to receive the scholarship as a result of the restrictions placed on Ole Miss from the ensuing NCAA penalties.
Economics being what they are, Woullard returned to Hattiesburg and attended Pearl River Community College—but did not participate in athletics. At the time, he had offers from some junior colleges and one FBS school to play football; however, Woullard’s heart was with Ole Miss.
“Ole Miss is the place I belong,” he said at the time.
“It was hard, but I knew I would be fine in the end at Ole Miss. To me, it’s just how it is up there in Oxford. It’s family, and all the coaches believe in me and my dreams. I prayed on it. I knew Ole Miss was my home. That’s my place.”
Isaiah Woullard on returning to play for Ole Miss
Thankfully, Woullard, the all-time leading rusher in Mississippi high school history with 8,294 career yards, returned to Oxford, signing with the Rebels in December, 2017 and rejoining the team in January, 2018. During his freshman season, he appeared in all twelve games and made two starts at running back.
Woullard finished 2018 with 428 yards, four touchdowns, and 5.1 yards per carry on 84 attempts. He made his first start against Vanderbilt where he set career highs with 107 rushing yards on 16 attempts.
Head coach Matt Luke spoke with admiration about his freshman running back.
Luke on Woullard: "I think he's a great example of a young man from MS and it means a lot to him. You want your team filled with guys like Isaiah. Really proud of him taking advantage of the opportunity he has."
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) November 19, 2018
Woullard, who’s known for never giving up, made this touchdown run against Arkansas last season, using second-effort to score the TD that helped the Rebels defeat the Razorbacks.
— Not Ole Miss Problems (@OleMissNoProb) October 18, 2018
Oh, and did we mention Woullard is taking care of business in the classroom as well as on the gridiron? He was named the December, 2018 Student Athlete of the Month for Football.
Congratulations to our December 2018 Student-Athletes of the Month!@LegendaryGrind – @OleMissFB @TheAnneLim – @OleMissWGolf @Amandaroth_39 – @OleMissSoftball @MaryKateSmith83 – @OleMissSoccer @isaiah_woullard – @OleMissFB pic.twitter.com/0dcx4Shx6I
— Ole Miss Student-Athlete Development (@RebelsAcademics) December 3, 2018
Heading into fall camp, Woullard is listed as the backup to senior Scottie Phillips at running back. The Rebels’ RB room has much more depth this coming season than in any time in recent memory, with five-star running back Jerrion Ealy and Class 5A’s Mr. Football (MHSAA) Snoop Conner both looking to get on the field early this fall. And after sitting out last season due to a knee injury, D’Vaughn Pennamon is also going to be in the mix.
Although there is plenty of competition at the running back spot, new offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez will be utilizing the run game much more than in last season’s offense, allowing even more opportunities for Woullard and the other running backs to contribute so Phillips isn’t worn out over the course the game and the long SEC season ahead.
Don’t be surprised to see No. 26 doing big things for the Rebels this season! He’s already proven he never gives up.
Top 50 Most Impactful Rebels:
34. Isaiah Woullard
35. Jadon Jackson
36. Grant Tisdale, Kinkead Dent, John Rhys Plumlee
37. Keidron Smith
38. Snoop Conner
39. Michael Howard
40. Vernon Dasher
41. Ryder Anderson
42. D’Vaughn Pennamon
43. C.J. Miller
44. Charles Wiley
45. Sincere David
46. Mac Brown
47. Jason Pellerin
48. Chandler Tuitt
49. Dannis Jackson
50. Jonathan Mingo