Fifth in a series …
Ole Miss signed five defensive linemen, four of them guys who may need a redshirt year.
Junior college transfer D.J. Jones is the outlier, and he comes in at the position of need.
A defense that was often dominant in 2014 could be that way mostly because of its speed and athleticism. The Rebels were fast to the football. They were good tacklers and tended to tackle in packs, not leaving the job to the first man at the scene.
When teams had success against Ole Miss it was often in running straight ahead at the Rebels. LSU, Auburn and Alabama come to mind.
Jones (6-2, 310) played at East Mississippi CC and was listed as the top junior college defensive tackle by all the recruiting services. Three of them listed him among their top six overall prospects.
Think of what the Ole Miss front can be if a team runs at the middle and there’s no where to go. You’ve still got Robert Nkemdiche – probably for just one more year — doing his thing at the other tackle.
Issac Gross and Woodrow Hamilton are both back in the middle, both seniors.
Gross is light in the pants but has always been able to get in the backfield and make plays. He had eight tackles for loss. Hamilton played through some injuries last year and didn’t get much done.
Jones had 16 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles over two years. Those are juco numbers so proceed with caution.
If he plays to his recruiting coverage, however, he should be able to clog the middle in the way the Rebels did not do consistently last year.
Junior college players don’t typically sign and redshirt – running back Akeem Judd is an obvious exception – and Jones will be expected to make a quick impact.
The most intriguing pick-up in the group is Austrian Robinson. Listed at 6-5, 253, he could play end or tackle, and it wouldn’t be shocking to one day see him on the offensive line. The recruiting services listed him as the No. 2 or No. 3 prospect in the state of New York.
There is a good group of redshirt freshmen to keep an eye on with tackle Breeland Speaks, end Victor Evans and Garrald McDowell, who could play both.
The rest of the DL signees are about the future.
Rasool Clemons and Joe Anderson are ends, Anderson a little bigger with 232 pounds on a 6-4 frame. He only began playing football as a junior in suburban New Orleans, and grades could be an issue.
Clemons, at 6-6, 210, has a leaner build along the lines of Marquis Haynes, who had a team-leading 7.5 sacks as a freshman last year. Clemons was rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports, a three star by the others. He was once a Virginia commit.
Ross Donelly (6-2, 285) is a tackle who attracted the Rebels’ interest later in the recruiting process. There seemed to be mutual interested between Donelly and Stanford, but the Houston native was pursued harder by mid-level Texas schools than Baylor, Texas and A&M.
Speaking of defensive line, there’s this from rising third-year sophomore Herbert Moore this morning:
Down to 322