Fourth in a series …
It’s way too early to call Ole Miss Wide Receiver U on the strength of signing day excitement.
For every heralded group of signees there are some who don’t meet the expectations of themselves and others.
However, Donte Moncrief had a great rookie season with the Colts. He’s followed at Ole Miss by a game-changing receiver – when healthy – in Laquon Treadwell.
There’s exciting potential on the roster right now, and the Rebels added three more this month – two of them – Van Jefferson and DaMarkus Lodge – are rated among the top 15 receivers in the country.
Lodge is rated the No. 2 wide receiver by Scout.com, the No. 7 receiver by some other services.
Stars and ratings are great. Acclimation and work habits are more important. Those are still TBA.
Houston Nutt’s last signing class at Ole Miss included Moncrief. It also included Nick Brassell, Tobias Singleton and Collins Moore. There are different skill levels and different attitudes there, but only Moncrief made a noticeable impact in the program.
Ole Miss recruiting is different now.
Some analysts believe that while Lodge is physically gifted, Jefferson might be more ready to play right now. Jefferson is described as a solid route runner, not surprising with a dad who played receiver in the NFL and coaches wide receivers now with the Tennessee Titans.
Lodge, of Cedar Hill, Texas, is listed at 6-2, 190, Jefferson at 6-2, 165.
Also in the class is Orlando’s Jalen Julius, who is listed at 6-0, 180.
Julius projects as a slot receiver. He also played defense, and while Scout.com rated him the No. 120 wide receiver, 247Sports rated him the No. 101 cornerback.
He’ll get a chance to help Ole Miss in the return game, and the Rebels definitely need help there. They’ve been strong in punt and kick coverage but mediocre in returns. They need that part of the game to become a weapon.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was unhappy with his wide receiver depth when practice began last August.
Cody Core and Quincy Adeboyejo – a high school teammate of Lodge – rose to the challenge. That gave the Rebels a bonafide starter in the slot, but depth was still sketchy, and that was a big issue late in the season when Treadwell went down against Auburn.
Indications are that Treadwell’s recovery is going very well, but any time you suffer a major injury there’s a question mark. He’ll have to regain not only his health but also his confidence to become the dominant player he was before the injury.
Also in the mix is Washington transfer Damore’ea Stringfellow, who is listed at 6-3, 229, compared to Treadwell’s 6-2, 229.
Stringfellow had 20 catches for 259 yards and a touchdown at Washington. He got better as the season progressed and started the last three games.
When you see these guys stretch and do a few drills at practice he passes the eye test, and right now at Ole Miss that’s all you have to go on.
Dayall Harris and Sammie Epps are intriguing redshirt freshmen who will be looking to get on the field for the first time.
Epps would have gotten on the field last year if an August arrest had not set him back. Listed now at 6-5, 215, Epps was signed out of Greenwood as a tight end but was running second at slot receiver at the time of his arrest.
Harris was suspended in December. That kind of flew under the radar then because he wasn’t playing. I’m not sure where he stands with that, but that’s something to keep an eye on as more talent enters the program.