These are guys with interesting story lines as camp begins. They are presented in random order. Five more coming tomorrow:
CJ Hampton: Three outlets listed him among the country’s top 10 safeties coming out of Meridian High School after the 2013 season. He was coveted enough for Nick Saban to visit Meridian and land his chopper on the practice field to try and sway Hampton from an Ole Miss commitment.
Players of that nature are often competing for jobs at sophomores, but the experience of the Ole Miss defense right now is such that that isn’t the case for Hampton.
The first depth chart has him listed second to Trae Elston at free safety. Hampton has told his former high school position coach that he’s running second to Mike Hilton. If that’s true that means he’s playing Rover right now.
Hampton appeared in all 13 games last year mostly on special teams. He finished with 10 tackles.
If he continues to develop he has a chance to grow into one of the Rebels’ next great defensive backs.
Chad Kelly: He is not the current leader in the QB race, though Hugh Freeze says the lead Ryan Buchanan enjoys as camp begins is incredibly small.
Decisions Kelly has made in his past give the impression he’s not used to being No. 2. He has the arm strength and football savvy to be the starter, and the guess here is he will become the starter – eventually and perhaps not by the Sept. 5 season opener.
Since Kelly’s December arrest shortly after signing with Ole Miss you’ve need seen poor public decisions from him.
You’ve seen him participate in a spring break mission trip to Haiti, and you’ve seen him quoting scripture on his Twitter page, taking pictures with young fans and re-tweeting the news that he’d been named the M Club’s student-athlete of the month.
Chad Kelly is pushing the right buttons, and it’s quite possible that being No. 2 has kept him motivated.
Laquon Treadwell: No real introduction is needed here. Treadwell was the difference-maker among the receivers until he was injured attempting to score the likely winning touchdown against Auburn last year.
He’s a likely first-round draft pick next year but isn’t getting quite the buzz now of some of his teammates because of the injury.
Treadwell has shared his comeback story with fans through social media so it’s no surprise to he’s doing well physically. The question that must be answered is how he will handle the physical part of the game.
Sean Rawlings: Recruited as a center the redshirt freshman finds himself on the initial two-deep at right tackle.
That’s in spite of missing much of the spring with a broken arm.
The move suggests that Rawlings is a tactician who responds well to coaching and is recognition that seems to place him, for now, ahead of Tyler Putnam, another redshirt freshman and a more highly rated recruit out of high school.
While Ole Miss has a potential No. 1 NFL draft pick at left tackle it desperately needs to be better collectively on the offensive line.
Rawlings and Putnam are examples of young guys with interesting potential that should lead to better competition this month and more depth in the months to come.
Robert Nkemdiche: The guess here is you’ll see a motivated Robert Nkemdiche this season and this month.
He did not sign with Ole Miss expecting to stay for four years.
I’ve never gotten the feeling from Nkemdiche or any of the “Big three” in that 2013 signing class they they were eagerly anticipating the day they would exit the college game.
They want to win, and I think Nkemdiche wants to win with big numbers. He wants to silence those who say he needs to be not only the guy who demands attention thereby freeing his teammates to make plays but become the guy with big tackles for loss numbers. I am one who says that by the way.
Akeem Judd: The heaviest among the running backs Judd (5-11, 222) will be key in sparking improvement in a run game that was erratic last year. Ole Miss is trying to get more physical there, and that means more yards after contact.
After spending two seasons at Georgia Military College Judd redshirted last season, a decision due in part to the number of running backs and part to a toe injury.