Ole Miss wide receiver Jalen Knox and Rebels getting familiar with new faces
OXFORD, Miss. – No one can dispute college football has changed in the past few years. From Name, Image and Likeness money to the transfer portal, the game is evolving. Especially with the transfer portal.
No team personifies changing with the times more than Ole Miss.
The Rebels have 17 new players via the transfer portal and that causes coaches to do a double take at times looking at the new members of the roster. Not that the players are unfamiliar, but they might look a bit different wearing red and blue.
“You can look out there and see, easily, half of the guys out there that are going against each other are portal guys,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said earlier this week.
“At one point I thought to myself, ‘That guy was just playing for Auburn and is covering a guy that just played for Mississippi State.’ That’s just the world we’re in.”
The additions have also caused the returning players to adapt to the new players.
“I definitely feel like it’s kind of different trying to adjust to everybody’s play style,” wide receiver Jalen Knox said after practice Wednesday.
“We have so many different people that can do so many different things. Just learning what everybody can do at a high level and to get that ultimate offense.”
Ole Miss WR Jalen Knox
Knox arrived in Oxford last year but sat out the season after transferring from Missouri. While with the Tigers, he caught 77 passes for 1,031 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons in Columbia.
After a season in the Kiffin system, Knox is more familiar with the practice regimen. The newest players are facing more of a learning curve in fall camp.
“This is kind of really grind time where you’ve got to work on stuff mentally and the obvious physical toll in the way that we practice and the style that we practice in,” Kiffin said.
“That’s an adjustment for a number of these transfers, which was to be expected. We’re plugging along and doing well. We still have a lot of work to do to be where we want to be.”
Lane Kiffin on the adjustments for transfers
The clock is ticking on the Rebels getting used to their new teammates and surroundings. In just three weeks, Troy comes to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the season opener.
Ole Miss hopes to take a step forward in its preparation for the season Saturday when the Rebels will scrimmage. The coaches and players will know more about what kind of team fans will see after the players are put through more game situations than they have done so far in camp.
“I think you put more weight in the scrimmage than ever because of the quarterbacks being young and because of all these portal guys that haven’t played together,” Kiffin said.
“As far as us, we haven’t seen the defensive guys tackle. Some of them are in different positions than where you’ve seen them in the year before. I don’t recall scrimmages being more important than these coming up.”
The first scrimmage is set for Saturday, August 13, time is TBA.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
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.