OXFORD, Miss. — Temple graduate transfer tight end Kenny Yeboah started his Ole Miss career not by dipping his toe into the shallow end of the Southeastern Conference pool but by leaping off the high dive into the waters occupied by a bunch of Gators.
He caught five passes for 91 yards and a touchdown in the Rebels’ 51-35 loss to fifth-ranked Florida Saturday, and got an early education into the type of game played in the SEC.
“The people are just bigger,” Yeboah said at Monday’s weekly press conference. “You have four-, five-star players that are just great players and they’re smart.”
Yeboah is quite talented, himself. Last year at Temple, the Allentown, Pa., native hauled in 19 passes and scored five touchdowns. That experience helped keep him from being intimidated by the Gators.
“When I went out there I wasn’t really nervous; I mean this is my fourth, fifth year starting pretty much at the tight end position, so it just felt really normal to me going out there,” Yeboah said.
— TJ (@TJOxley1) September 26, 2020
“I wasn’t even thinking about we were playing the number-five team in the country I was just going out there and playing ball, honestly.”
Tight end Kenny Yeboah
In spite of the loss, Ole Miss did some good things offensively. The Rebels put up 613 yards of total offense on the Gators, who are expected to vie for the SEC East title and are on the radar of the College Football Playoff Committee.
Quarterback Matt Corral threw for 395 yards and three touchdowns – one to Yeboah and a pair to Dontario Drummond. Drummond also completed a pass from his wide receiver position. The sophomore took a backwards pass, looked downfield, had to pump fake a defender to buy more time and then lofted a deep ball to Jerrion Ealy.
The play went for 45 yards. Drummond also had a 46-yard reception, making him the only Rebel in recent memory to both complete and catch a pass over 40 yards in the same game.
Yeboah’s performance also caught the attention of Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin.
“He had a really good second half,” Kiffin said. “Actually, missed the block on a swing there that would have been a big play. But then came back three straight plays in a row if I remember right. That was good to see.”
For Ole Miss fans, it was good to see the big man from the North migrate to Oxford. For Yeboah, it was an easy choice.
“I wanted to go somewhere I was wanted and where I would be used and where I could showcase my skills and I knew coming here with coach Kiffin would be the best opportunity for me,” Yeboah said. “(Offensive coordinator) Coach (Jeff) Lebby coached at UCF last year where we played them so I got a chance to see his offense up close and personal when we played them and they scored like 60 points on us so it was kind of a no-brainer to come here.”
Not only did Yeboah play UCF on a yearly basis, during his career at Temple, the Owls played the likes of Memphis, Penn State, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Maryland, Boston College, North Carolina and Georgia Tech. He also had the opportunity to play in two bowl games.
That experience gave Yeboah confidence heading into his initial foray into the SEC, something that helped him on his touchdown catch and did not surprise him at all.
“I’ve been working real hard all camp to prove to my teammates and the coaches that I can go out there and make these plays, so honestly I wasn’t surprised that I made the play because I have been doing it all camp. So, I know if I do it in practice, it will correlate to the game. I’m just going to keep working and prove it to my teammates and coaches.”
Through one game, Yeboah has proved to his teammates, coaches and to Ole Miss fans, he will be an asset to the Rebels this season.
Ole Miss (0-1) travels to Lexington Saturday to take on Kentucky (0-1). Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. and will air on the SEC Network.