This year it’s the interior that is rebuilding with three new starters: left guard Alex Washington, center A.J. Hawkins and right guard Rishaw Johnson.
Hawkins is a freshman who went through spring drills. Washington, a junior, is a program veteran who has never been so close to a starting role.
The tackles are considered the strong point of the group. Bradley Sowell struggled in the early going as Oher’s successor but was playing much better by season’s end and has gotten some preseason All-SEC mention.
Right tackle Bobby Massie started the last four games of his freshman season and has the footwork and ability to be a very good player.
The key to this unit could be Johnson. He was slated to be a stater last season but a series of disciplinary issues kept him off the field.
After meeting with coach Houston Nutt to discuss his future in the program, Johnson responded with strong play in the spring. When on top of his game, he brings a physical style to the position
If Johnson becomes a go-to player in the middle, the Rebels could create some momentum in the run game.
Massey and Sowell figure to be able to protect the edges in the passing game.
With inexperience at so many positions on offense, a lot hinges on what the Rebels can get done up front.
Each week, we’ll look at a different position for Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Last week: Defensive line. Next week: Special teams. Check out more college football news in today's NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.