Ole Miss vs. Troy: A look at what the Rebels and Trojans have in common
OXFORD, Miss. – When Troy visits Ole Miss next Saturday, September 3 to open the 2022 football season, it will be only the second time the two schools have met on the gridiron.
That is odd considering the pair has more in common than one would think.
Beyond Trojan head coach Jon Sumrall being a former assistant coach at Ole Miss and Troy linebacker coach Tayler Polk being a former Rebel player, there are more than a few things the two schools have in common.
A TALENTED QUARTERBACK ROOM
Both Ole Miss and Troy each have a talented quarterback room — the Rebels’ top three QBs are Luke Altmyer, Jaxson Dart and Kinkead Dent, while Troy has Gunnar Watson, Peter Costello and Jarret Doege.
Each team also has a quarterback that arrived via the transfer portal from out west. But the two players sort of flip-flopped states to get to Dixie.
The Rebels’ Jaxson Dart is a native of Utah who transferred from Southern Cal. Troy’s Peter Costelli is a native of California who was at the University of Utah last season.
Dart threw for 1,353 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman at USC.
Due to COVID and a redshirt season, Costelli has not played in two years but comes to Troy as the program’s first-ever four-star player. Besides having a strong arm, he can also run. In high school he ran the 100 meters in 10.87 seconds and was the anchor of the 4×100 relay team. Think of him as John Rhys Plumlee with Matt Corral’s arm.
Last week, West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege joined the Trojans. In January, he had entered the transfer portal and left Morgantown for Western Kentucky, but now has resurfaced.
With that addition, Troy has maybe the deepest quarterback roster in the state of Alabama.
Each team also has a returning QB who will be battling for the starting job.
Sophomore Luke Altmyer came on in relief of an injured Matt Corral in the Sugar Bowl vs. Baylor and then had a solid spring. Altmyer and Dart have been pushing one another throughout fall camp and have both looked very good. Troy’s Gunnar Watson became the Trojans’ starter midway through last season.
BRINGING HOME THE HARDWARE
Both Ole Miss and Troy have three football national championships. The Rebels were named national champs by various polls in 1959, 1960 and 1962.
Troy won its three titles on the field since smaller divisions figured out a playoff system worked before the FBS. The then-Troy State Red Wave won the 1968 NAIA national title and the Trojans the NCAA Division II championship in 1984 and 1987. Troy pulled off a rarity in 1987 as the school’s baseball team also won the national championship.
Ole Miss might be the county seat of Lafayette County, but the population of Oxford is only a bit over 25,000. Troy’s population is right at 18,000, but it doubles when school is in session.
Apart from West Point, Troy is the smallest town in the FBS. Former coach Neal Brown once quipped he knew which players went to a bar on any given night. Brown’s route home from his office passed by the only two bars in town.
RAIDING THE PORT CITY
Mobile is known as Alabama’s port city as it is the only city in the state that is on the Gulf of Mexico. Besides all the imports that come into the city, Mobile has an exported commodity – football players.
In this season’s opener, six Mobile natives will be taking the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium turf. Two, A.J. Finley and Cedric Johnson, will be starting for the Rebels’ defense. The six players represent five different Mobile high schools. Only Davidson High produced two players – Johnson and Troy’s Justin Powe.
AND JUST DOWN THE ROAD FROM MOBILE
We must give another shout out to the Ole Miss baseball team. Rebels’ centerfielder T.J. McCants is a graduate of Pensacola (Fla.) Catholic High School. That is the same school Troy football’s all-time leading scorer, Greg Whibbs, attended. Whibbs is back in Pensacola where he works at his family’s law firm. Of course, he is a graduate of the Ole Miss law school.
STUDS AT LINEBACKER
Ole Miss and Troy each feature a potential superstar at linebacker. The Rebels’ have Central Michigan transfer Troy Brown who was a three-time All-Mid-American Conference performer.
The Trojans feature former walk-on Carlton Martial. Since 2018, the senior has the most tackles of anyone in the FBS – 442 which is 66 more than the next closest defender. According to the Troy sports information department, Martial needs just 104 more to become college football’s all-time leading tackler.
Four international players will be suiting up for the game. Ole Miss boasts Jaden Dicks and Tavius Robinson from Canada and Fraser Masin from Australia.
The Trojans’ offensive lineman Tyler Harvey-Fallows hails from England.
ONE LAST TIDBIT
Troy’s Austin Stidham, one of 13 Trojans who have been named to the preseason All-Sun Belt team is from Russellville, Ala., and is a graduate of Russellville High School.
What does that have to do with Ole Miss? That is the hometown and alma mater of Chucky Mullins.
(Feature image credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)
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.