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Football Begins Spring Practices Today: Prospectus on the 2022 Rebels

Football Begins Spring Practices Today: Prospectus on the 2022 Rebels

OXFORD, Miss.(Release) Spring practices begin today for Ole Miss, and Lane Kiffin and the Rebels head into the 2022 campaign looking to ride the wave of momentum from last year’s historic season after a 10-3 record; the first 10-win regular season in school history.

The Rebels finished the season ranked No. 11 in both the AP and AFCA Coaches Poll and registered a perfect 7-0 mark at Vaught- Hemingway Stadium, its first undefeated season at home since 1992.

Kiffin guided Ole Miss to its third New Year’s Six bowl game since its inception in 2015 after the Rebels earned a spot in the 2022 Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Looking to replace 33 letterwinners, including 14 total starters, Kiffin and the Rebels turned to the transfer portal to help strengthened its roster for 2022. Ole Miss currently has the No. 1 ranked transfer class according to 247Sports and will have 13 portal transfers taking part in spring ball.

The Rebels will need to replace a large portion of their offensive production from the 2021 season as Ole Miss loses seven starters from an squad that finished sixth in the FBS last season in total offense.

One of those key spots that the Rebels must find a new starter is at the quarterback position. Matt Corral, a Maxwell Award and Manning Award finalist, is projected as an early round pick in the coming NFL Draft. Luke Altmyer and Kinkead Dent are two returning letterwinners that will compete with USC transfer Jaxson Dart for the starting spot at QB.

Ole Miss also lost nearly all of its rushing production from last season as Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner declared early for the NFL Draft. The Rebels hope veteran TCU transfer Zach Evans can help fill the void left by Ealy and Conner. A five-star recruit and the No. 16 overall prospect coming out of high school, Evans rushed for a team-high 684 yards and five touchdowns in 2021 despite playing in six games. Kentrel Bullock returns for his junior season after appearing in six games last year.

Jonathan Mingo is Ole Miss’ lone starting receiver returning after the graduation of Dontario Drummond and Braylon Sanders. Mingo hauled in 22 catches for 346 yards and three TDs in the course of six games last year for the Rebels. Similar to the QB and RB position, the Rebels found several talented transfers at the receiver position that should step in and provide immediate experience. Jordan Watkins ranked second for Louisville in receptions (35), receiving yards (529), and touchdown catches (four). Returning letterwinners Dannis Jackson and Jadon Jackson will all add depth and will see playing time at wideout.

Starter Casey Kelly returns at the tight end position after registering 17 catches for 150 yards and a TD. Michael Trigg, a four-star and the nation’s No. 2 transfer tight end from USC, will be a factor at the tight end position for the Rebels in 2022. Trigg saw action in six games as a freshman with the Trojans and hauled in seven catches for 109 yards and one TD, before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Utah. Jonathan HessLuke Knox and Hudson Wolfe will also all potentially see time at TE.

Arguably one of the deepest positions for the Rebels in 2022 will be the offensive line. 2021 starters, Nick BroekerJeremy James and Caleb Warren, all return to help anchor the Ole Miss offensive line.

On the defensive side of the ball, Ole Miss returns 24 lettermen, including five starters, and will lean heavily on its experienced secondary unit.

The Rebels will have to replace potential NFL Draft pick in Sam Williams on the defensive line. Ole Miss will lean heavily on returning starters KD Hill and Cedric Johnson. tallied 37 tackles last season, including a team-high six sacks. Tavius RobinsonDemon ClowneyJamond GordonIsaiah ItonTywone Malone and transfers Jared Ivey and JJ Pegeus will all vye for playing time.

Ole Miss returns just two letterwinners at linebacker in Austin Keys and Ashanti Cistrunk. The Rebels recently added Central Michigan transfer and veteran linebacker, Troy Brown. Brown, a three-time All-MAC player at Central Michigan, tallied 66 tackles and a forced fumble in 2021.

Ole Miss returns some key starters and additional depth in the secondary for 2021. Starters Otis ReeseAJ FinleyTysheem Johnson and Deantre Prince are all back after starting a majority of the 2021 season. Finley and Reese led all returning Rebels in 2021 with 90 total tackles. Isheem Young, a transfer from Iowa State who earned Big 12 Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2020, will compete for playing time, along with returning letterwinners Miles Battle, and others.

QUARTERBACKS

Ole Miss loses 2021 starter Matt Corral to the NFL Draft.
• Sophomore Luke Altmyer returns after throwing for 192 yards and one TD as a true freshman in a reserve role.
• Two-time letterwinner Kinkead Dent enters his third season and has appeared in four career games.
• USC transfer Jaxson Dart will join the Rebels for spring ball and was rated the No. 3 overall transfer and started three games in 2021 for USC as a true freshman.
• Dart threw for 1,353 yards and nine touchdowns for USC in 2021.

 RUNNING BACKS

• Ole Miss loses potential draft picks Snoop Conner and Jerrion Ealy.
• Zach Evans, a TCU transfer, will join the Rebels for spring practice.
• Evans rushed for a team-high 684 yards and five touchdowns despite playing in six games last year.
• Evans surpassed 100 yards rushing in six of his 15 career games and has averaged 7.3 yards per carry throughout his career.
• Kentrel BullockBobo Miller and Isaiah Woullard are the three returning letterwinners at RB.
• Ole Miss signed two three-star high school running back in Quinshon Judkins who enrolled early and will participate in spring drills.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Veteran Jonathan Mingo has started 26 games in his career and hauled in 22 catches for 346 yards and three TDs in 2021 after battling a foot injury early in the season.
• Drummond tallied 13 receptions for 188 yards in 2019, while Mingo hauled in 12 catches for 172 yards during his true freshman campaign.
• Transfer Jordan Watkins ranked second for Louisville in receptions (35), receiving yards (529), and touchdown catches (four).
• Marc Britt, Bralon BrownBrandon BuckhaulterQua DavisJJ HenryDannis Jackson and Jadon Jackson all add depth at wideout.
• Missouri transfer Jalen Knox is also eligible this season after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules.

TIGHT ENDS

Starter Casey Kelly returns after hauling in 17 catches for 150 yards and one touchdown last season.
• Michael Trigg, a transfer from USC who appeared in six games for the Trojans last year as a freshman, will be a factor for the Rebels in 2022.
• Trigg hauled in seven catches for 109 yards and one TD, before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Utah.
• Returners Jonathan HessLuke Knox and Hudson Wolfe will add depth to the position.
• Three-star prospect Kyirin Heath will join the Rebels in the fall.

OFFENSIVE LINE

 

The Rebels lose just three letterwinners from its offensive line, but will have to replace 2021 starters Ben Brown and Orlando Umana.

• The Rebels return Nick Broeker, who has started 23 straight games at left tackle.
• Junior starter Jeremy James also returns in 2022 after starting every game last year.
• Caleb Warren started 11 games at left guard last year and has registered 19 starts over the last two seasons.
• James and Warren didn’t allow any sacks last season in nearly 400 pass blocks.
• First team All-USA & WKU transfer Mason Brooks enrolled in the spring and will go through spring drills for the Rebels.
• Eli AckerHamilton HallCedric MeltonJordan Rhodes, and Reece McIntyre will all push for spots on the line in the spring.

 

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

KD Hill returns at defensive tackles for the Rebels after starting 10 games last year.
• Hill tallied 24 total tackles in 2021 with 1.5 tackles for loss.
• Jamond GordonIsaiah ItonTywone Malone will all add depth.
• JJ Pegues, a former star at Oxford HS, returns back home after two seasons at Auburn.
• Pegues switched from tight end to the defensive line at Auburn before last fall and finished 2021 with 17 tackles and two tackles.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

Ole Miss loses 2021 All-American Sam Williams to the NFL Draft.
• Cedric Johnson is back after starting 11 games in 2021 and finished second on the team with 6.5 sacks. • Three other lettermen return including Jakivuan BrownDemon Clowney and Tavius Robinson.
• Robinson registered 28 total tackles and 4.5 TFLs in 2021.
• Brandon Mack returns to the field for the Rebels after missing the entire 2021 season due to injury.
• Transfer Jared Ivey will also compete for playing time.
• Ivey started 11 games for Georgia Tech last season, registering 32 total tackles with six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

LINEBACKERS

The Rebels lost five letterwinners at the linebacker position, including starters Chance Campbell and Mark Robinson.
• Ashanti Cistrunk returns after appearing in all 13 games last year.
• Austin Keys is also back after seeing action in six games in 2021.
• Troy Brown, a three-time All-MAC player at Central Michigan, will look to make an impact for the Rebels after transferring from CMU.
• Brown recorded 215 total tackles and five interceptions in 41 career games for the Chippewas.
• Northeast Mississippi transfer Reginald Hughes and USC transfer Danny Lockhart II will both take part in spring drills.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Ole Miss returns 12 letterwinners in the defensive secondary from the Rebels’ 2021 squad.
• Starters AJ FinleyTysheem JohnsonDeantre Prince and Otis Reese will be relied upon heavily in 2021.
• Finley and Reese led all returning Rebels in 2021 with 90 total tackles.
• Johnson started 10 games and was named Freshman All-SEC in 2021.
• Prince started seven games at cornerback and finished second on the squad with two interceptions.
• Miles Battle appeared in all 13 games last year and led the team with eight pass breakups.
• Transfers Ladarius Tennison and Isheem Young both enrolled early and will add experience and depth to a veteran group.
• Returners Markevious BrownMJ Daniels and Kyndrich Breedlove will all push for playing time.
• Signees Davison Igbinosun and Jarell Stinson are both mid-year enrollees and will participate in spring drills.

SPECIALISTS

• Ole Miss will have to replace long-time punter Mac Brown and a dynamic returner in Jerrion Ealy.
• The Rebels return kickers Caden Costa and Cale Nation, along with long snapper Solomon Landrum.
• Costa was 14-for-17 last season, with a long of 50 yards.
• Australian punter Fraser Masin signed as part of the 2022 recruiting class and enrolled early.

(Feature image credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)

Evelyn Van Pelt
Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

About The Author

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn's love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

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