5 candidates to be the face of Ole Miss football in 2022
Well, it’s a new season and a lot of new names litter the Ole Miss roster. Gone are most of the big names that Rebels fans took to heart through the 10-win season of 2021. The revolving door that is the transfer portal has played a part in a new-look Rebels team for 2022.
So which player or players will step up and become the leader of this revamped group? Let’s take a look at 5 possibilities for head coach Lane Kiffin to lean on as Ole Miss looks to build on the program’s 7th 10-win season and first since 2015.
1. Zach Evans
Ole Miss ranks 1st in transfer rankings, according to 247sports.com, and a big reason is landing the TCU running back. Evans is a 5-star recruit who looks to prove that ranking with a big season in Oxford. He brings a 7.04 yards per carry average during his sophomore season in 2021. In 2 years at TCU, Evans rushed for a combined 1,063 yards and 9 touchdowns.
He’ll have an opportunity to be the main focus in the Rebels’ backfield with the departure of both Snoop Conner and Jerrion Ealy, the team’s top rushers. Add to that the fact that Ole Miss has finished 1st and 2nd in rushing the 2 years under Kiffin, and the importance of the arrival of Evans becomes even that much more crucial.
2. Jaxson Dart
Another big transfer pull, the former USC quarterback steps into some big shoes. Fill those and Rebels’ fans will chant the name. The opportunity is certainly there to rise to another level, one he didn’t get in his freshman year out west.
Dart played in 6 games with the Trojans, completed 62% of his passes, threw for 1,353 yards and 9 TDs. He showed signs of what could be in Oxford, throwing for 325 yards and a touchdown against UCLA. That’s the kind of production that Kiffin is certainly wishing for from the young talent.
It should be interesting to see how that transfers over to SEC competition.
3. Offensive line
Individually, those in the trenches aren’t usually household names. But collectively, this may be the brightest spot on the Rebels’ roster. They’re loaded up front with Nick Broeker returning for his senior season to lead the way.
Bringing in Western Kentucky transfer Mason Brooks is huge, and he will fit right in with the likes of Jeremy James, with 23 starts under his belt, and Caleb Warren, who started 11 games a year ago.
This group figures to be among the best in the conference and should have Rebels fans talking.
4. Luke Altmyer
The Rebels’ backup quarterback last season, Altmyer will battle Dart for the starting job. If he wins it, he’ll be the focal point. Though talented, he doesn’t have a lot of game experience.
Playing behind Matt Corral last season, Altmyer appeared in just 5 games. The freshman attempted just 37 passes, completing 20, for 192 yards and a touchdown. Most of that was logged in the Sugar Bowl loss to Baylor, when he replaced an injured Corral in the first quarter. Altmyer completed 15-of-28 passes for 174 yards and a TD, but also threw 2 picks.
5. Dannis Jackson
I could have easily gone with fellow wide receiver Jonathan Mingo, but Jackson may have a slightly better ability for the big play; at least that’s what Kiffin is hoping for.
With the departure of Ole Miss’ top 3 receivers (Dontario Drummond, Braylon Sanders, Jahcour Pearson), it’s time for Jackson (or Mingo, or both) to step up. Both will be seniors and both certainly have the capabilities to fill those shoes.
Jackson averaged 20.33 yards per reception last year, showing signs of being a home run threat. He piled up 126 receiving yards on 6 catches against Liberty. His role figures to be greatly increased in 2022 with an opportunity to blossom into one of the top receivers in the conference.