In previews this summer, SEC bloggers and columnists have praised the Rebels' front.
"I hear all this talk as well, and I don't understand where it's coming from. We lost three big-time football players up front, and we have a lot of unproven players up there. We have a long way to go defensively to prove we're one of the better front sevens in the country," Nix said.
Perhaps, but there are several reasons the Rebels may cover that ground, starting with nose tackle Jerrell Powe, a preseason All-American. Powe is one of four seniors on the two-deep roster at the interior spots, joining Ted Laurent, Lawon Scott and LaMark Armour, who was granted a sixth season of eligibility in March. All four are SEC start-worthy in quality.
The Rebels lost a great deal of production from ends Marcus Tillman, Emmanuel Stephens and Greg Hardy, but Kentrell Lockett didn't do too badly with 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and a team-high 13 pressures. He'll anchor one end.
The other will be junior college transfer Wayne Dorsey (6-foot-6, 255), who has the physical tools and made mental strides in the spring.
Dorsey could very well team with Lockett to keep the production from the ends at a high level, if he can acclimate quickly.
Part of last season's production came from Nix's ability to rotate four ends and keep them fresh. Whether that happens again with a retooled roster remains to be seen.
Backups Gerald Rivers, a third-year sophomore, and Cameron Whigham, a freshman who went through spring drills, are talented but inexperienced.
For more college football news check out today's NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.