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Rebels’ high-octane offense even more versatile with Plumlee, Ealy slated to see time at slot

Rebels’ high-octane offense even more versatile with Plumlee, Ealy slated to see time at slot

OXFORD, Miss. — Heading into the 2021 season, one of the biggest questions concerning the Ole Miss offense was who would replace the departed Elijah Moore as the slot receiver.

Perhaps the question should be how many Rebels will be in line to replace the record-breaking receiver?

“There’s a lot of guys there (in the slot),” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said after the Rebels’ first day of the fall camp.

We actually discussed just today moving one or two outside because there are so many guys there when (John Rhys) Plumlee comes into it, so it’s very competitive. Plus, we have some of our older guys playing in there some. Still trying to figure out what the best lineup is to start with so, without going into too much detail about who’s playing where, it’s a very competitive spot and there’s a number of guys there.”

Head coach Lane Kiffin on his slot receivers

John Rhys Plumlee  

John Rhys Plumlee (10) works out at the slot. (Photo: Petre Thomas, Ole Miss)

John Rhys Plumlee has garnered much-deserved attention since his performance in the Rebels’ 26-20 win over Indiana in the Outback Bowl – the only time the junior had lined up in the slot. 

Against the Hoosiers, the Hattiesburg native grabbed five passes for 73 yards, including a 44-yarder that set up the final Ole Miss score.

“He (Plumlee) is still a quarterback mentally, and he is going to think like one,” junior quarterback Matt Corral said when asked how Plumlee is adapting to playing slot. 

“He knows what I am looking for. Him in the slot, the slot does a lot of work in this offense. From being a quarterback going to the slot receiver…he did good against Indiana, and, now, this guy has footwork. He has footwork and he’s getting better, more familiar with the routes and how to attack angles.”

Ealy in the slot

Rebels may also utilize RB Jerrion Ealy in the slot position. (Photo: Petre Thomas, Ole Miss)

Plumlee could very well have company in the slot position, including running back Jerrion Ealy.

“If I’m out of the slot, that gives another back the opportunity to be in the backfield,” Ealy said Monday. “If we have two backs there, that would be a dangerous thing. Henry (Parrish, Jr.) can move out too. That gives our offense a little more fire.”

High-octane offense, Braylon Sanders’ return

More fire to a high-octane offense will give Southeastern Conference defensive coordinators many sleepless nights while preparing for the Rebels.

In 2020, Ole Miss averaged 555.5 yards and 39.2 points per game. The Rebels put 48 points on the board against Alabama, the most any team scored against the Crimson Tide on their way to the national championship.

The slot will be even more effective thanks to the return of Braylon Sanders who will line up outside the slot and force the defense to possibly put two defenders on him.

Braylon Sanders (13) is healthy and back at wide receiver for Ole Miss. (Photo: Petre Thomas, Ole Miss)

Last season, Sanders grabbed 15 passes for 376 yards – an average of 25.07 yards per catch – and four touchdowns despite missing two games due to injury. Sanders returns to the 2021 lineup with a clean bill of health.

“Braylon being 100 percent and having the depth for us is going to be huge for us,” Corral said. 

We’ve never had Braylon healthy for a full season and I think this is the season Braylon is going to open a lot of eyes. He understands what he has to get done. Him being one of my best friends, I know he’ll get the job done.” 

Matt Corral on Braylon Sanders

Sanders will be joined by the experience of Jonathan Mingo, Dontario Drummond, Dannis Jackson, Jadon Jackson and Western Kentucky transfer Jahcour Pearson at the wide receiver spot.

With all those names, one might think there might not be enough balls to go around to keep the receiving corps happy. Corral disagrees. “Our team doesn’t have a lot of ego,” Corral said. “There’s a lot of selfless kids in that locker room.”

The college football world will get its first glimpse of the Ole Miss offense Sept. 6, when the Rebels take on Louisville in Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

(Feature image credit: Petre Thomas, Ole Miss)

Steve Barnes
Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.

He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.

A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.

Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.

He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.

Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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