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One Last Ride: Elko, Graham and Bench set to return to Ole Miss for 2022

One Last Ride: Elko, Graham and Bench set to return to Ole Miss for 2022

OXFORD, Miss. — The first two days of the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft went as many Rebel faithful — and draft experts — thought, at least from an Ole Miss perspective.

High school phenom Jackson Jobe, a right-handed pitcher who had committed to the Rebs, was drafted overall number three by the Detroit Tigers.  With a slot value of $7.2 million, he will likely never see action on the field in an Ole Miss uniform.

Rebel co-ace Gunnar Hoglund went to the Toronto Blue Jays in the No.19 position, a spot with a slot value of $3.4 million.

Ole Miss fan favorite Doug Nikhazy heard his name called on day two. With the overall No. 58 selection, Nikhazy was selected by the Cleveland Indians, a position with a slot value of $1.2 million.

Closer Taylor Broadway was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 6th round.

All eyes on Elko, Graham, and Bench

With no other Rebels chosen on the second day of the draft, all eyes were peeled on the draft ticker to see if Justin Bench, Kevin Graham and Captain Tim Elko would be selected.

Beginning at 11 a.m. CT Tuesday, the 11th Round began — and so did the waiting and watching game. The 12th round came and went, then we moved to the 14th, 16th, then 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th.

As I watched the MLB draft tracker, it became clear in my mind that the juniors and Elko might, just might, be staying in Oxford for one more year.  

By the numbers

Collectively, here’s what Elko-Bench-Graham did in the 2021 season: 155 runs, 215 hits, 30 doubles, 37 home runs (43.5% of the team total), and 150 runs batted in.

Individually, Graham finished the season with a 56-game consecutive on-base streak, the second most hits on the team, and led the team in RBIs. Bench, who filled a critical position at third base after Elko moved to first following the injury to Cael Baker, finished the year third in hits. Elko, the Captain and heartbeat of the Rebels, led the squad with 16 home runs and was tied for second in RBI, despite playing in 18 fewer games than team leaders Graham and Jacob Gonzalez.

Given all the above, it’s no wonder so many Rebels were holding their breath to hear what would happen with these three key players. 

As many players do in 2021, Graham, Bench and Elko used social media to make their intentions known.

Kevin Graham came first at 2:34 p.m.

Next, was Justin Bench at 2:55 p.m.

All attention then turned to the Captain. What would he do? For 53 minutes, Rebel Nation was forced to wait — and then was rewarded with a true gem in typical Elko fashion, including a fitting hashtag for Tim, #GlorytoGod.

That’s right, all three are back!  Excitement then ensued throughout the fan base!

As those who follow me know, I always write from the fan perspective and I have no qualms about it. I can tell you this Rebel is VERY excited for the 2022 season. I can’t wait for February.

Hotty Toddy!

Photo credits for Bench, Elko, and Graham: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss

Feature image graphic: Greg Murphy, The Rebel Walk

About The Author

Chris Muller

Chris is our Director of Baseball Content and Senior Baseball Writer. Muller is a 1995 Graduate of Ole Miss. He is a collegiate recreational sports professional currently residing in Arlington Texas with his wife of 24 years, Amber, and German Shorthaired Pointer, Sophie. Chris is an avid Ole Miss Baseball and Football fan. His hobbies include watching college football and baseball and playing poker with his friends.

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