After Signing Day: Linebackers

A position by position look at the Rebels after signing day …

While the newcomers are about depth at most positions on defense that’s not the case at linebacker.

Mike Marry had some big plays at middle linebacker through his career, but he had no wheels.

By being in the right position he had 4.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles last year, tying for the team lead in the latter category.

Junior college transfer Christian Russell, who is enrolled and will participate in spring drills, is a tad smaller than Marry but a good bit quicker.

He will compete with Keith Lewis, who backed up Marry last year and finished with 23 tackles, three for loss and an interception.

Temario Strong appeared in 13 games and had nine tackles. He’s back, and D.T. Shackelford could mix in here as well.

Russell is listed at 235, 15 pounds lighter than Marry’s last listed weight. At 6-foot-1 he’s two inches shorter. Strong is a near carbon copy at 6-0, 235.

Scout and ESPN ranked him among their top 25 junior college players. Scout and ESPN called him the No. 1 juco middle linebacker.

The Rebels return their top two players on the outside in Serderius Bryant and Denzel Nkemdiche at the Stinger position.

Neither played a complete season last year.

Bryant led the team in tackles with 78 in spite of missing two games. He led the team in tackles for loss with 12.5 and had three sacks and three forced fumbles.

Nkemdiche appeared in 10 games with six starts. As a result, his tackles and tackles for loss were far down from his redshirt freshman totals of 82 and 13.

With experience on the depth chart, newcomers DeMarquis Gates (6-3, 215) and A.J. Moore (6-1, 200) could be redshirt candidates.

Rivals, 247 and ESPN rated Gates as a four-star prospect, and Rivals called him the No. 19 outside linebacker.

Moore was rated a consensus three-star recruit and was called the No. 46 outside linebacker by Scout.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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