Ole Miss started practice nearly four weeks ago, and every team is in the meat of its spring schedule, with spring games coming next month.
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The Rebels return one of the most talented SEC rosters this season and are looking to take the program to the next level, but there are key positions and players who have to take the next step, including QB Bo Wallace. Along with Wallace, here are five Rebels who will play bigger roles in 2014:
Evan Engram, TE (SO)
2013 stats: 21 catches, 268 yards, 3 TDs
Buzz: Evan Engram became one of the Rebels’ biggest offensive weapons early on, but an injury limited Engram to play just eight games. He’s a mismatch for any linebacker at tight end, and he can split out wide and become a legit receiving threat on any play. Engram will play a much more prominent role in 2014.
DeVante Kincade, QB (rFR)
2013 stats: Redshirt
Buzz: With Barry Brunetti graduated, Hugh Freeze will look to find an offensive changeup for Bo Wallace. There could be a few players who help fill Brunetti’s void, but DeVante Kincade should play the biggest role. Kincade is a sharp passer who’s looked great this spring, and he gives the offense a threat in the running game, too.
Keith Lewis, LB (SR)
2013 stats: 23 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 INT
Buzz: Mike Marry, the defense’s middle linebacking anchor the last three years, has graduated, and the Rebels are looking for his replacement. His backup Keith Lewis immediately jumps out, as does DT Shackelford, who’s back for another season. Lewis started one game last season, and he should play a much bigger role this season, regardless of whether he or Shackelford start at the position.
Robert Nkemdiche, DL (SO)
2013 stats: 34 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks
Buzz: The supremely talented Nkemdiche becomes an instant defensive leader, and he headlines a talented defensive line. Nkemdiche’s role will become more prominent, as he transitions from being just an impact player to one of the team’s biggest leaders. Hugh Freeze is counting on Nkemdiche’s game to become nasty in 2014, and I’m not going to bet against him being the conference’s best defensive lineman. That’s what he and Ole Miss expect.
Laquon Treadwell, WR (SO)
2013 stats: 72 catches, 608 yards, 5 TDs
Buzz: Treadwell will transition from being an impact freshman who helped Donte Moncrief to the offense’s biggest weapon. He will be the game plan, and he has the ability to take over football games. He didn’t average many yards after catch as a freshman, but he will terrify defensive coordinators this season. He’s ready to become the SEC’s top wide receiver in 2014.
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