Ole Miss Football: Post-Spring Game Two-Deep Depth Chart
Hugh Freeze's Ole Miss Rebels wrapped up spring ball this past Saturday with the annual Grove Bowl.
Minus being plagued by the injury bug over March and April, the Rebs accomplished a lot over the spring.
While Ole Miss would have enjoyed having players like QB Bo Wallace and DE C.J. Johnson available this past spring, the absence of several starters allowed coaches to take a closer look at depth issues.
Less experienced players had chances to display their talents ahead of the summer (and the arrival of a host of talented freshmen), and many returning players took advantage of their added looks.
That being said, let's take a look at Ole Miss' projected two-deep depth chart at the end of spring.
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Quarterback: Bo Wallace, Maikhail Miller
While serious questions remain at the backup quarterback spot, the Rebels will be fine under center as long as starter Bo Wallace returns healthy from shoulder surgery.
However, who ultimately ends up as Wallace's top reserve is a million dollar question right now.
In compiling a two-deep roster as of April 15, the 6'2'', 240-pound Miller appears to have the edge for No. 2. That being said, he only holds a very slim lead over senior Barry Brunetti after the spring.
This summer, true freshmen QBs of contrasting styles, Ryan Buchanan and Devante Kincade, will also throw their names in the hat. Exactly who Hugh Freeze decides is the winner may not be known until right before Ole Miss opens at Vanderbilt on August 29.
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Running Back: Jeff Scott, I'Tavius Mathers
Senior RB Jeff Scott should have plenty of help in the backfield this season in Oxford.
While "do-it-all" athlete Randall Mackey has graduated, sophomores I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton and true freshman Mark Dodson are ready to fill the void in 2013.
Mathers, Walton and Dodson are all slightly different types of backs, which should allow each player to see his share of touches in the Rebels' dynamic offensive attack.
The sophomore Mathers has the lead after spring, but I expect Walton and Dodson to also be significant contributors this year. The fresher the legs, the faster Ole Miss can run its up-tempo offense.
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Wide Receiver: Donte Moncrief, Vince Sanders
Wide Receiver: Vince Sanders, Cody Core
Slot Receiver: Ja-Mes Logan, Quadarias "Q" Mireles
The SEC witnessed what Donte Moncrief was capable of doing in 2012. This season, even greater things should be expected from the 6'3'', 216-pound junior. Rebel fans will again be screaming, "Feed Moncrief."
Immediately behind the junior on the depth chart are two returning wide receivers: Vince Sanders and Ja-Mes Logan. In 2012, Sanders caught 39 balls for 504 yards and four touchdowns. Additionally, Logan hauled in 43 receptions for 490 yards and a single score. Together, they were quite good.
Sanders grabs the second starting spot again due to his speed and athleticism (and he should retain it). At slot, things get a bit more tricky. Mireles looked just like the athlete he was recruited to be for the Rebels, but Logan is a solid player with a lot of talent.
Logan remains the starting slot man for now, but between "Q," Core, Korvic Neat and hopefully a healthy Collins Moore this summer, Ole Miss could have to shuffle the deck in its creative offense a little bit.
The Rebels would love to be seven or eight deep to truly be able to run the offense in 2013, and at the end of spring, things are looking quite good ahead of the summer (not to mention the pending summer arrival of Laquon Treadwell).
While starting and reserve receivers are listed above, they're simply names on "paper."
Freeze likes to turn up the volume on offense, and in such a scheme everyone will get their chances.
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Tight End: Christian Morgan, Dylan Dwyer
There's a great explanation for why Hugh Freeze inked three freshman tight ends in his 2013 signing class: the tight end cupboard is empty in Oxford.
Minus TEs Ferbia Allen and Jamal Mosely this season, Ole Miss will likely turn to a couple of the true freshmen. Over the spring, 6'4'', 254-pound Christian Morgan was slowly developing for the Rebels as a mid-year enrollee.
Unfortunately for both parties, the Texan sustained a torn meniscus late in spring drills.
While he still holds the No. 1 job heading into the summer, fellow true freshmen Evan Engram and A.J. Jackson will enter the competition this summer. Further, returning reserves like Matt Brown, Dylan Dyer, Jack Nuismer and Taz Zettergren will be hungry for playing time themselves.
At the end of spring, Morgan takes the lead for No. 1 over returning Rebel Dylan Dyer.
However, the depth chart at tight end could be anyone's guess this summer.
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Offensive Tackle: Pierce Burton, Emmanuel McCray, Patrick Junen, Robert Conyers
Offensive Guard: Aaron Morris, Justin Bell, Jared Duke, Derrick Wilson
Center: Evan Swindall, Ben Still
Not only does Ole Miss have to replace G A.J. Hawkins this fall, but they also have to build some depth.
Fortunately, there's a load of offensive tackle talent coming to Oxford this summer, namely Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson, so there's a chance a tackle (new or old) gets moved inside to help with depth concerns in the middle.
Returning reserve C Ben Still will continue to compete with newcomer Austin Douglas for the No. 2 job this summer, and it's a battle that could swing in either player's favor at the end of the summer.
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Defensive End: C.J. Johnson, Cameron Whigham, Channing Ward, Carlos Thompson
Defensive Tackle: Issac Gross, Byron Bennett, Woodrow Hamilton, Lavon Hooks
Two major bright spots this spring for the Rebels were enhanced levels of play from DE Carlos Thompson and DT Woodrow Hamilton. While incoming freshman DE Robert Nkemdiche should find an increasing number of downs with each game this fall, depth on the interior line is a little thin minus DTs Gilbert Pena
Although Johnson broke his fibula in spring camp, he should return healthy this fall. The stout Rebel defensive line could prove to be one of the better groups in the SEC this season.
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Mike Linebacker: Mike Marry, Keith Lewis
Stinger: Denzel Nkemdiche, Serderius Bryant
Husky: Mike Hilton, Dehendret Collins
With the varying formations defensive coordinator Dave Wommack likes to throw at offenses, there's a chance for a lot of guys to contribute.
While Mike Marry, Denzel Nkemdiche and Mike Hilton are atop the depth chart at the various linebacking spots, Ole Miss found much-needed production from some other guys this spring. Serderius Bryant had a great spring, capped by a interception return in the Grove Bowl, while Keith Lewis and Temario Strong both picked up their levels of play.
Further, senior D.T. Shackelford was able to return to the field after nearly two years of knee injuries. If he can continue to progress before fall, Shack should figure prominently into the middle rotation in 2013.
As for the hybrid huskie position, Mike Hilton remains the top contender at the end of spring camp. However, competition is expected to heat up this summer when highly touted freshman Tony Conner arrives on campus to compete with Hilton and Collins.
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Cornerback: Charles Sawyer, Senquez Golson, Nick Brassell, Carlos Davis
Free Safety: Cody Prewitt, Chief Brown
Rover: Trae Elston, Quintavius Burdette
The competition at corner really heated up this spring in Oxford, and new cornerbacks coach Jason Jones had to be pleased with the talent upon first impression.
While Sawyer and Golson return at corner, both Brassell and Davis should provide quality reserve work in 2013 among a few other players.
Two of the hardest-hitting players on the Ole Miss roster, Cody Prewitt and Trae Elson, look to start at free safety and rover respectively. Their two top reserves both have huge upsides, with Brown being called out several times over the spring for his quality of play.
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Kicker: Andrew Ritter, Andy Pappanastos
Punter: Tyler Campbell, Chris Conley
Kickoff Returns: Jaylen Walton, Carlos Davis
Punt Returns: Nick Brassell, Quadarias "Q" Mireles
For a unit that largely struggled in 2012, special teams play should be drastically improved this year.
Redshirt seniors Andrew Ritter and Tyler Campbell will get the nods at their respective positions, while return teams should be much more productive thanks to both experience and added talent in 2013.
The most interesting position on special teams at the close of summer is on the punt-return team. I feel Nick Brassell and "Q" Mireles lead the pack due to their incredible speed. However, Jeff Scott remains a viable candidate when practice begins this summer (along with incoming speedster freshman Kailo Moore).