Most Impactful Rebels for 2019: No. 17 Eli Johnson
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 17 days before kickoff, coming in at No. 17…
Ole Miss center Eli Johnson was a consensus three-star prospect, according to ESPN, Rivals, and 247Sports, when he signed with Ole Miss in the Class of 2016. The Lafayette High School (Miss.) standout was ranked the No. 4 center in the country and played in the Offense-Defense All-American Senior Bowl as well as the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game.
The 6-foot-1, 303-pound Oxford native, who played behind Sean Rawlings at center for the past two seasons, redshirted his first season with the Rebels. He made appearances in four games during his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons, but now it’s Johnson’s turn to lead this offensive line unit.
The Rebel Walk spoke with Johnson at Ole Miss Media Day about how it feels to play center this fall — a position that is, in effect, the quarterback of the offensive line. “I’m excited,” said Johnson. “Looking forward to fall camp, and getting ready to play Memphis. We’re excited right now.”
Johnson is the essence of perseverance, having endured and overcome a rough history of knee injuries that date back to high school. As a sophomore, he suffered an ACL injury during the 2013 Class 4A State championship game, and after arriving at Ole Miss, he suffered another ACL injury in 2017 on the last play against UT-Martin.
We asked Johnson if he ever thinks about any of that. “No, you can’t let that stuff cloud your thoughts,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve got a little injury history, but I’m not going to worry about that when I’m on the football field. You just can’t afford to.”
Johnson is easily one of the strongest guys on the football team. Why has he placed such an emphasis on his commitment to the weight room? “I really just try and take pride in how we attack the weight room, and how we attack the offseason,” Johnson explained.
“I feel like that’s the biggest thing, just enjoy what you’re doing and give great effort and be intense through it all, too.”
Ole Miss center Eli Johnson
What does Johnson want to work on the most during fall camp?
“Obviously, there are two things you have to have to be successful up front. You have to be very physical to move the line of scrimmage, and we have to be able to communicate successfully to make sure everyone is on the same page. So, really, those are the two things that I have to emphasize. One is trying to be physical and two is communicating to help everybody else.”
Ole Miss center Eli Johnson
Communication won’t be a problem for Johnson as he is an outstanding student who was named to the 2019 Athletic Director’s Spring Honor Roll and the 2018 Southeastern Conference Fall Academic Honor Roll. And if that weren’t impressive enough, with two years of football eligibility still remaining, he has already earned his undergraduate degree and this spring completed his first semester of graduate coursework.
— David Johnson (@Rebels247) May 11, 2019
Johnson will play a critical role on the offense this fall as he will be charged with directing the offensive line and making sure that everyone is on the same page before the snap—not to mention having to perfect the quarterback-center exchange with redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Corral.
While he hasn’t yet had much opportunity to showcase his talents, that will all change this fall. He’s paid his dues; now it’s his time to shine. Watch for No. 61 on the offensive line this fall!
Most Impactful Rebels for 2019
17. Eli Johnson
18. Myles Hartsfield
19. Dontario Drummond
20. Jon Haynes
21. Montrell Custis
22. Demarcus Gregory
23. Bryce Mathews
24. Royce Newman
25. Tylan Knight
26. Tariqious Tisdale
27. Octavious Cooley
28. Jalen Julius
29. Luke Logan
30. Nick Broeker
31. Austrian Robinson
32. Quentin Bivens
33. Willie Hibbler
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
Derrell has covered Ole Miss athletics in the past for Rebels247 at 247Sports. He attended Delta State University where he graduated with a B.S. in Biology. He is currently pursuing his Pharm.D. at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy with an expected graduation of May, 2020.