Ole Miss All-Decade Team: Nkemdiche, Haynes lead hard-hitting defense
Editor’s note: Saturday Down South has selected an all-decade offensive and defensive team for all 14 SEC programs. Starting Wednesday: Florida and the SEC East.
Ole Miss’ offense was plenty nasty during this decade, but the defense produced stars of its own.
Eight Rebels defenders were taken in the NFL Draft, including 3 in the top 2 rounds.
Here is the All-Decade defensive team for Ole Miss:
DE: Marquis Haynes (2014-2017)
Haynes tied the single-season program-record with 10.0 sacks in 2015, which helped him set the career record of 32.0.
Culminating with a win in the Sugar Bowl, Haynes left as one of the most decorated defensive linemen to ever wear the Ole Miss uniform. He was a 4th-round pick in 2018.
DT: Robert Nkemdiche (2013-2015)
One of the most highly decorated recruits to sign with ex-coach Hugh Freeze, Nkemdiche was a Day 1 force who developed into a 1st-team Freshman All-American. His career was marked with controversy, but on the field, he became a 1st-team All-SEC performer and 2nd-team All-American.
He’s the Rebels’ lone 1st-round pick among defenders this decade, going No. 29 overall in 2016.
DL: Issac Gross (2012-2016)
Always playing undersized, the South Panola High School (Miss.) product finished his career with 29.0 tackles for loss. His final 2 seasons were mired with injury, but he always persevered. Ironically, his freshman season could have been his best, finishing with 40 tackles, including 10 for loss.
DT: Breeland Speaks: (2014-2017)
Known for the hand wave to Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen during the Egg Bowl win in 2017, Speaks was always a fan favorite. An All-SEC selection, Speaks finished with 127 tackles in his career.
He was a 2nd-round pick in 2018.
LB: DeMarquis Gates: (2014-2017)
You won’t see Gates’ name on any awards list, nor any SEC postseason teams. What you will see is Gates led Ole Miss in tackles in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
He finished with 282 tackles.
LB: Serderius Bryant (2011-2014)
A 3rd-team All-SEC selection, affectionally known as “Bird” to his teammates, Bryant finished 232 career tackles at the MLB position. He registered 12.5 TFLs in 2013, when he led the team with 78 stops. He helped lead the Rebels to the Music City Bowl and a win over Georgia Tech.
LB: C.J. Johnson: (2011-2015)
Another fan-favorite, Johnson finished with 13.5 career sacks, good for 8th all-time at Ole Miss. He had an affinity for the Egg Bowl, finishing 2-0 his final 2 seasons. The notorious picture of Johnson standing over MSU decorated quarterback Dak Prescott following a sack in 2014 is one Rebels fans will never forget.
DB: Senquez Golson: (2011-2014)
Golson tied the single-season program record with 10 interceptions in 2014, none more important than the game-saving pick against Alabama to secure a 23-17 win. Golson finished with 16 career interceptions, 3rd all-time in program history.
In 2014, he became the Rebels’ 1st consensus All-American since OT Michael Oher 6 seasons prior.
Golson was a 2nd-round pick in 2015.
DB: Cody Prewitt: (2011-2014)
In 2012, Prewitt became the Rebels’ 1st defensive back to be selected as an All-American since 1973. He finished with 12 career interceptions, 8th in school history.
DB: Ken Webster (2014-2018)
Finished his 4-year career with 122 tackles after suffering a torn ligament in his knee following his junior season. He had 2 interceptions during his final season and was taken in the 7th round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
DB: Jon Haynes: (2019-current)
A transfer from Jones County Junior College, Haynes had a huge junior season, finishing with 48 tackles and an interception. Haynes provided a needed spark for a defense that was 113th in pass defense in 2018. The Rebels improved to 77th in 2019 under new defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre.
P: Tyler Campbell (2009-2013)
The most decorated punter this decade, Campbell ranks 3rd all-time with a career average of 44.6 yards per punt — a total of 10,075 yards in his 4-year career.
He also had the 3rd-best single season, averaging 46.4 in 2010.