From Hayden Sowers …
• The defense as opposed to the offense will have more newcomers playing. Why you ask? On the offensive side of the ball I believe there is some talent from last years team that can still play and produce in the Southeastern Conference. Defensively you are looking at a different picture, the talent needs a major upgrade on that side of the ball and some of Hugh Freeze’s first defensive signees will look to get serious playing time in the fall:
• It all starts with DE Channing Ward out of Aberdeen, MS. Channing had an impressive showing at the Under Armor All-American game in Orlando, FL, and his expectations grew with his performance. Channing is expected to come in and start, it’s that plain and simple. At 6’4” 265 he is already ready physically to play and from what he showed quickness wise in Orlando he looked like he could add about 10-15 pounds and still have quickness of the edge. I look for Channing to come in and play significant snaps, if not grab a starting spot, during the season. Ward picked the Rebels over Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Mississippi State.
• JUCO CB Dehendret Collins, an early graduate out of Copiah-Lincoln Community College, wasn’t necessarily the highest rated player coming into his playing career at Ole Miss. I for one didn’t expect him to come in and show a whole lot during spring practices, but I was wrong. He reminds a lot of CB Wesley Pendelton, who was his teammate at Co-Lin. Pendelton was arguably the Rebel’s best CB last year after being lightly recruited out of JUCO. Collins looked to have an awesome motor and posses great ball skills that helped him earn a starting spot opposite of Pendelton coming out of spring practices. Like I sad Collins wasn’t the highest recruited player choosing the Rebels over Louisiana Teach and Troy.
• Three other defensive freshmen I fully expect to see on the field this fall are CB/S Anthony Standifer, CB/S Trae Elston, and DT Issac Gross. Standifer, out of Crete, IL, is a ‘tweener’ type of player and I’m not sure where the staff will put him. At 6’1” 180 I would put him at CB because of his long wingspan and plus ball skills. He could also see time at safety which would also fit him well. He has long strides and flies to the ball I just don’t see him having the weight yet to start out at safety. With Pendelton graduating after this year you also could build some depth at CB. Standifer chose the Rebels over Notre Dame, Boise State, and Pittsburgh. Elston, an Under Armour All-American out of Oxford, AL, just fits the type of a free safety to me. At 6’0” 170 he has amazing ball skills and above average speed that reminds me a lot of Tryann Mathieu for LSU. I know that is a lofty comparison, but there is a reason Elston was down to Ole Miss and LSU as his final two. I think the LSU staff saw the same similarities I do with Elston and Mathieu. The only knock on Elston has been his weight as 170 looks to be quite the stretch. Gross, another Under Armor All-American out of South Panola, is an undersized DT with a motor that never stops and great quickness of the ball. During the game in Orlando he never quit and that is why I think he will find his way on the field sometime during this upcoming season. The problem with Gross is you have to find a place for him to play. If they want to keep him at DT the coaching staff might use a redshirt year to add 30 pounds to a frame that can certainly take it or they could use him as more of a strong-side DE and use him there. That is certainly a decision for the coaching staff and not myself, but I would redshirt him and keep him at DT for the next 4 years. He reminds of another South Panola product, Peria Jerry, who is now in the NFL playing with the Atlanta Falcons. Gross picked the Rebels over Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, and Texas