Spring Look Ahead: Defensive Tackles

Looking ahead through bowl practice to the spring.

Fifth in a series

Defensive Tackles

As juco signing day nears Ole Miss remains in pursuit of East Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

It looks as though they have a good chance to land him, and that would be a big lift.

While the Rebels have two nose tackles returning that hasn’t been a position of strength this season, even with Robert Nkemdiche tying up blockers and commanding attention next door.

Isaac Gross had 31 tackles, six tackles for loss and a couple of pressures this season. Not bad numbers while splitting time, but Gross, more than others, is a guy that needs to split time. He’s not big enough to handle the banging every play. Injuries throughout his career have proven this.

Even so, he’s still a situational advantage, and that works if you can alter his stops with a dominant run-stopper, a guy who can plug the middle.

Bryon Bennett and Lavon Hooks showed flashes this year, but both will be gone. Woodrow Hamilton returns.

While Hooks had 6.5 tackles for loss and Bennett 4.5, Hamilton had just one half tackle for loss.

There are three young guys on the roster: redshirt freshman Herbert Moore and freshmen Breeland Speaks and Garrald McDowell.

McDowell is built more like Gross than a big run-plugger. He and Speaks were both four-star signees.

Speaks was listed at 285 pounds at the time of his signing. The Ole Miss roster has him now at 310, McDowell at 257.

At EMCC Jones showed an ability to shed blocks and make plays as he finished with eight sacks this season.

Juco stats make interesting reading, but they don’t always translate to the next level.

The fact that Florida State and Alabama are pursuing him may say more about Jones.

The bottom line is Hugh Freeze and his staff have worked so hard to fix the OL, as they should, that numbers are becoming an issue on the interior DL. That will show up more next year than this year.

With better numbers at defensive end, don’t be surprised to see a guy like Fadol Brown (6-4, 280) move to tackle in the off-season.

Ole Miss needs a physically mature signee like Jones to come in and help for 2015.

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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  • James M

    According to urp and OMStaff (same guy) Ole Miss must not be able to develop the DT either. “Florida State and Alabama are pursuing him” I guess EMCC develops DT better then Florida State, Alabama and Ole Miss. Dumb logic

    • urp

      you apparently don’t understand the difference between QB and defensive tackle. There is a reason why Ole Miss was competing with Indiana for Kelly and is competing with Fla State and Alabama for Jones. You also are mistaken about me. I am not on the Ole Miss staff.

    • urp

      It is a shame that rather than post after an article to comment on the message in the article, some come instead to attack other commenters.

      • burp

        It’s a shame that state had probably the best year in their history and their fans and still infatuated with Ole Miss. You apparently don’t understand the difference between an Ole Miss blog and a State blog. You apparently don’t understand the difference between common sense and dumb logic. Your whole argument has been that since Ole Miss signs a juco QB EMCC must be better at developing QBs. But now it doesn’t apply to DTs because it is a different position. You apparently don’t understand that every team signs juco players.

        • urp

          I have talked about nothing but Ole Miss in my posts. Who the heck cares whether state fans are upset with ole miss fans? what on earth does that have to do with the article you’re commenting on? Every team does sign juco players, but not every team uses transfer after transfer after transfer at QB without developing their own. I don’t understand why you want to change the subject to defensive linemen…? Ole Miss obviously can develop defensive linemen. They have developed several. The typical SEC team uses nine defensive linemen in an important game while they use one QB in a game. That’s quite a difference. It is very common to use jucos for defensive linemen and the big teams do it. It is much less common to use juco QBs. You only occasionally see big teams do that and certainly not when they have three QBs on scholarship (two of whom were four stars out of high school and will be in their third year with the program) when they are severely scholarship limited. There also is quite a difference in the development cycle of a defensive lineman than for a QB. If you follow football, surely you know that. Go ahead and attack me rather than discuss the issue at hand using reason though. I don’t know why I bother responding to trolls.

          • burp

            I’m not the troll here. I am an Ole Miss fan. I have been reading and posting on this blog for years. You are the troll. You have been asked if you are a state fan but you will not answer. So I ask again, are you a state fan? Yes, you only talk about Ole Miss in your posts but you only criticize the coaching staff. Sounds like a state fan to me.
            I am not changing the subject to DTs. The article is about DTs. Lots of schools use juco QBs. You may have heard of Cam Newton and Nick Marshall. Have you been on Auburn’s blogs to criticize their coaching staff? Nope. Troll

          • urp

            No, I am not a state fan, and I can’t find anywhere where anyone asked me that. What difference would it make anyway? I am here to comment on articles that I read here, which is the purpose of this comment section. You apparently are here to attack me and you refuse to talk about the article but rather to change the subject and attack me. Perhaps if you don’t think that you are a troll, you need to look up what it means to be a troll. Now, I’m through responding to your silly attacks. I have opinions and when they apply to an article here, I will post them whether they cause you to whine or not. Good day.

          • urpsdaddy

            You sound like a state fan the way you jump to conclusions about the coaching staff just because they sign a juco QB. They get paid pretty well. I think they know what they are doing. Btw, I haven’t attacked you or anyone else. I have simply pointed out how flawed your logic is about the QB situation. You come on an Ole Miss blog and start condemning the coaching staff. I have simply defended Ole Miss. You apparently cannot understand logic. You are free to make as many comments as you would like, but don’t start whining when someone doesn’t agree with them.

          • urp

            Um, you are the one that started whining when my opinion didn’t agree with yours. I never did anything of the sort.

          • James M

            I defended the staff. There has been no whining from me. Show me where I was whining. You actually claimed I attacked you. That is whining. All I have done is point out your flawed logic

          • urp

            I have looked through several of your posts and can’t find the one where you “defended the staff”. What do they need defense against? Against people who might actually have the gall to have a different opinion than yours expressing their opinion? It is very odd that you would claim that you have not attacked me when the vast majority of your time here is spent doing just that and this very thread started with an attack by you against me. I am tired of feeding trolls as I know that there is no value in that, but I’ll close with just a few of your attacks against me. If you ever decide to come and talk about the article that you are commenting under, we may engage again, but as long as you come to talk about ME, forget it. I am not going to be baited into an endless discussion with someone who only wants to come up with the following whiny gems about me simply because I have an opinion that you don’t like:

            “Just another bulldog fan wanting to start something. urp, how did you like that Egg
            Bowl?” (by the way I loved the egg bowl. Great game)

            “PA,is there any way this blog can be set up to only comment with facebook? That would
            cut down on some of the junk on here like urp.”
            You also have a few posts attacking OMStaff, but I’ll let them defend themselves if they like. Perhaps they are wiser than me and refuse from the start to respond to people like you who try to bait others into arguing. Have a good day and goodbye.

          • James M

            You were attacking the staff by saying that EMCC is better at developing QBs. I was simply defending them. Has that not been clear? I have said it over and over. Here it is again. No one actually thinks that EMCC develops QBs better than Ole Miss. You are just trying to get something started and you did. You can express your opinions all you want but in this case it was wrong. Now in ten years from now, if Ole Miss continues to get juco QBs then we may have a problem. But right now, we don’t know. As I have said many times, every college gets juco transfers, even juco QBs. Auburn has had 2 that took them to 2 national championship games. One last thing. Since you are supposedly not a state fan, what school are you a fan of? It certainly cannot be Ole Miss. All you have done is talk bad about the staff, their bowl games and the people they recruit.


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