Then and Now

In no certain order, a look back at some of the story lines of the 2014 off-season and how they have played out at the conclusion of the 2015 regular season.


Laquon Treadwell: Sustained a broken leg and dislocated ankle last year against Auburn, graphic injuries that led to a long and painful rehab.

I’Tavius Mathers:After three seasons at Ole Miss the junior running back transferred to his hometown school, Middle Tennessee State.

C.J. Johnson: The senior defensive end moved to middle linebacker in the spring.

C.J. Johnson/Ole Miss photo Joshua McCoy

C.J. Johnson/Ole Miss photo Joshua McCoy

Mike Hilton: The senior defensive back moved from cornerback to safety in the spring in a secondary shake-up as Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack worked to replace All-Americans Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson.

Sammie Epps: Once an intriguing recruit with the potential to play tight end or wide receiver and with a 6-foot-6 fram to create matchup problems at either position, Epps was dismissed from the team in June for violation of team rules. Also in June Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze added a post-graduate transfer at tight end in Dillon Barrett who had played previously at FCS Lamar.

Laremy Tunsil: Tunsil punched his step-dad, Lindsey Miller. Tunsil turned himself into local authorities. The case eventually reached the courtroom where all charges were dropped. However, the NCAA began an investigation that would linger for months and ultimately cost Tunsil a seven-game suspension.

Chad Kelly: After an arrest outside a bar in his hometown of Buffalo last December Kelly’s recently signed scholarship to Ole Miss was in danger.


Laquon Treadwell:  He’s one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award. He leads the SEC in receiving yards (1,082), tied for third in touchdowns with eight. Had five-straight 100-yard receiving games.

I’Tavius Mathers: Having once been the leader at running back, Mathers’ playing time began to diminish at the end of 2014. He finished last season with 67 carries, second on the team, and 290 yards, third on the team. He would have provided depth and experience in 2015, however, Mathers had been passed by Jaylen Walton at the end of last season. Walton ran for 586 yards last season, and with one bowl game left this year has 690 yards.

CJ Johnson: Johnson held his own in the middle. He missed three games with after MCL surgery and was limited in another but finished with 39 tackles, two interceptions, three passes defended, a fumble recovery and four quarterback pressures.

Mike Hilton: A Thorpe Award semifinalist. Hilton played a key role in better defensive performances against LSU and MSU when he started spending more time at cornerback. He was also key in helping replace Tony Conner at nickel. He was huge against LSU in helping slow down Leonard Fournette including a big solo tackle of Fournette in the backfield. He finished with 46 tackles and was second on the team in tackles for loss with 11. He also broke up 11 passes, defended 13 and had a forced fumble.

Sammie Epps: The absence of Epps was never noticed. Tight end was never a particularly deep position for Ole Miss this season, but Evan Engram remained healthy, and while Engram remained reliable with his hands, he was called on to block more. His receptions were down only from 38 to 32, but his yards per catch dropped from 17.4 to 11.5.

Barrett appeared in nine games and had one catch for 15 yards.

Laremy Tunsil: Tunsil finally returned after the mid-way point of the season. His first game back was Texas A&M on Oct. 24. With Tunsil back in the lineup Ole Miss has rushed for more than 200 yards a game. Without him the Rebels piled up yards against New Mexico State, Fresno State and Tennessee-Martin but averaged just 88 yards a game against Alabama, Vanderbilt, Florida and Memphis. The Rebels very nearly went 5-0 with Tunsil. Their only loss was 53-52 to Arkansas in overtime. Hard to attribute that to a lack of production on offense.

Chad Kelly: Kelly enrolled at Ole Miss in January and has been a model citizen. He accompanied a group of players, coaches and staff on the spring mission trip to Haiti.

Chad Kelly Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics.

Chad Kelly
Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics.

He survived a three-way competition with Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade to become the unchallenged starter in Week 3 at Alabama where he passed for 305 yards and two touchdowns in the second half to lead the Rebels to a 43-37 win.

He’s immersed himself in video study as teammates and coach Hugh Freeze have marveled at his preparation habits. That study has paid off on the field. Kelly was named one of 12 Manning Award finalists earlier this week. He is the first Ole Miss player to be named a finalist in the 12-year history of the award named for former Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning and his sons, Eli, also a former Ole Miss quarterback, and Peyton.

Kelly leads the SEC in passing yards (311.7 ypg), total offense (347.3 ypg) and points responsible for (222) and ranks in the national top 10 in all three.

He set Ole Miss records this season for passing yards (3,740), total offense (4,167), touchdowns responsible for (37), 300-yard passing games (7).

He leads the team with 10 rushing touchdowns, the most by an Ole Miss quarterback since Archie Manning had 14 in 1969.


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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  • Killer_Beeze

    Great stuff PA. BUT, you didn’t say where Sammie Epps ended up at. I thought he transferred, but to where and IF he did what were his accomplishments this season. I always liked the kid’s abilities. He showed great potential and if I’m not mistaken he was named the MVP of the Mississippi-Alabama High School All-Star game. Waste of talent.
    As for Chad Kelly…I’d say this time last year he was a good kid waiting on someone to believe in him and to teach him and Coach Freeze stepped up and did an extraordinary job of coaching him on the field of play and life. Thumbs up to both.

    • Parrish Alford

      I didn’t hear where Sammie went after Ole Miss.

    • TheGiantRebel

      I think Sammie went to NWCC and was later dismissed from the team. Not sure what he’s been doing the past few months away from FB.

      • Killer_Beeze


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