How good can Laquon Treadwell be in his 2015 return?
It was last Nov. 1 that Laquon Treadwell snapped his leg mere inches shy of the goal line, fumbling away the game-winning score in a devastating loss to Auburn.
Treadwell was lost for the year with a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle on the play, and the Rebels’ season more or less fell apart following the heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Tigers.
Since that day, Treadwell, Ole Miss’ leader in receptions in each of his two collegiate seasons, has focused on nothing but recovery, and when the Rebels kick off spring practice next month Treadwell will join his teammates on the field as expected.
The star wideout began running in mid-february and released footage of his rehab on his Instagram account less than four full months after sustaining his injury.
(That’s linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche running alongside Treadwell. Nkemdiche also suffered a season-ending broken leg injury last October.)
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze is not known to push players unnecessarily hard during the spring practice season, but it appears Treadwell will be healthy enough to at least progress through some of the lighter drills with his teammates.
This all begs the question: What can we expect from Treadwell when the regular season kicks off in September?
For what it’s worth, the star 6-foot-2 wideout is entering his third year with the Rebels, and many expect him to take the leap from productive to dynamic this fall so long as he recovers properly (which he appears to be doing).
It’s also worth mentioning the distinct possibility Treadwell departs for the NFL a year early following the coming season, meaning if Ole Miss wants to capitalize on signing the No. 1 wide receiver from the 2013 recruiting cycle it’ll have to do so this year.
So the expectation, barring any setbacks or further injury troubles, is for Treadwell to be an All-SEC honoree by season’s end. Those expectations may be lofty, but they’re justified by Treadwell’s raw talent and his production through his first two seasons in Oxford.
And by all accounts, it appears Treadwell can be that explosive target Ole Miss expects, and frankly needs, in a loaded SEC West. The additions of four-star signees Damarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson are nice, but the Rebels need a dominant No. 1 option as they transition to a new quarterback, and Treadwell is really the only man for the job.
The fact he’s already running at a healthy pace is more than a good sign of how Treadwell’s rehab is progressing. What he can do this spring means nothing compared to what he can do this fall, but should he continue on this trajectory the only way his injury would impact his play in September would be if it altered his approach mentally.
He already has some of the best hands in the conference, and few players posses the ability to break tackles and breakaway from defenders with impressive speed the way Treadwell has done throughout his career.
He’s as dangerous on a fly route as he is on a bubble screen, and his leg only stands to get healthier between now and Week 1. His physical dominance should be restored, and as long as he’s not hesitant on the field due to last season’s gruesome injury, he’s going to return to superstar status.
In fact, adding secondary options like Lodge and Jefferson in addition to returning established targets like Cody Core and Evan Engram should only further free up Treadwell as opposing defenses try to account for the Rebels deep corp. of pass-catchers.
So look for Treadwell to be his same explosive self this fall, and look for his numbers to improve as he continues to be surrounded by other dangerous skill position weapons. If Ole Miss finds the right quarterback, it could have a future first round NFL Draft pick in the making lining up on the outside in 2015.