QB Jaxson Dart ‘really excited for what’s coming’ as connection with Malik Heath, Rebel receivers growing stronger each game
OXFORD, Miss. – This time last season, Ole Miss fans were enjoying watching the connection between quarterback Matt Corral and wide receiver Dontario Drummond.
This year’s top passing duo was not even in Oxford last season. One was across the country in Los Angeles, while the other end was playing for the Rebels’ archrival. Oh, how the transfer portal turns.
Jaxson Dart, a transfer from Southern Cal, has developed a connection with former Mississippi State wide receiver Malik Heath. In Saturday’s 22-19 over Kentucky, the pair hooked up six times for 100 yards.
As much as fans are enjoying how the new Ole Miss players are developing relationships, the players are equally impressed.
“I think it’s something that’s really neat,” Dart said.
“I’ve never had previous experience playing with these guys. For example, Jaylon, Flash, and Malik, we didn’t even get time together in the spring, and Mingo was out the spring with injury, so we’re all still new to each other so it’s really exciting cause that chemistry is just gonna continue to grow and we’re gonna continue to get better as a team. The limit is untouchable for us, we can be so good, so I’m really excited for what’s coming.”
Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart
The Dart-Heath duo could have had another completion. Under pressure, Dart lofted a pass that seemed to be destined for no man’s land, but out of nowhere, Heath emerged and got his hands on the ball, but as he hit the ground on the Kentucky sideline, the ball popped loose.
That same scenario proved successful later in the game, however.
“(The Kentucky defense) didn’t make really big adjustments,” Dart said. “So we caught them in it (again) and made them pay. When you got guys who can make plays like that you want to do a lot of the same stuff and when they’re not going to make an adjustment, we’re going to go right at him.”
Knowing what the defense is going to do is a matter of preparation. Knowing what your teammates will do is a matter of developing a relationship with them.
“I would say a huge thing is we’re kind of talking about this in the locker room is just how tight we are as a team,” Dart said.
“Our chemistry between each other is just really good on and off the field. You have so much time in a day where you’re just focused on football and you’re just with your teammates and we love every minute of it. There’s nothing else we’d rather be doing, so if you have that friendship and that bond between each other you know that really shows in a game like this where you just got to find a way to grit it out and win. And if a team’s not like that, they’re not going to win so I think that says a lot.“
Jaxson Dart on team chemistry
That makes Dart sound like a leader. Heath believes his quarterback is one despite only being a sophomore.
“He is young, but I think he’s experienced,” Heath said about Dart. “He played a little ball up there at USC, so he is young, but he is going into it the right way, being a leader on the field and being a leader off the field.”
Heath also gives credit for the offensive success to his coach, Lane Kiffin.
“It’s just the play calling,” Heath said.
“Coach Kiffin is a great play caller. He’s going to put you in position to make sure you can make the play, so it’s just on you to make the play. Dart was talking to me a lot, he was all about ‘Keep your head down, do your thing.’ We know everything we bring into the game today, but it was just Kiffin’s play calls.“
Ole Miss WR Malik Heath
The duo has benefited from Kiffin and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, Jr.’s schemes this year. Dart has thrown for 910 yards and five touchdowns, while Heath leads the team with 19 catches for 320 yards. He has also scored three touchdowns and is averaging 64 yards receiving a game.
Eighth-ranked Ole Miss (5-0) looks to continue its success Saturday at 3:00 p.m. as the Rebels travel to Vanderbilt.
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.