With the SEC season less than three months away, here’s a look at the potential impact freshmen for each team. Recruiting rankings are based on the 247Sports Composite which calculates the average of all four major recruiting websites (247Sports, Rivals, ESPN and Scout.)
9-4 (5-3 SEC); 3rd SEC West
2015 Team Ranking
National Rank No. 15
SEC Rank: No. 7
Top Incoming Prospects
- WR Damarkus Lodge- 4-star, Cedar Hill (Cedar Hill, TX), 6-2.5, 190 lbs, No. 6 WR, No. 42 overall
- OG Javon Patterson- 4-star, Petal (Petal, MS), 6-2.5, 317 lbs, No. 3 OG, No. 52 overall
- WR Van Jefferson- 4-star, Ravenwood (Brentwood, TN), 6-2, 183 lbs, No. 11 WR, No. 108 overall
- RB Eric Swinney- 4-star, Sandy Creek (Tyrone, GA), 5-10, 188 lbs, No. 13 RB, No. 122 overall
- DT D.J. Jones- 4-star, East Mississippi C.C. (Scooba, MS), 6-2, 310 lbs, No. 1 JUCO DT, No. 3 JUCO overall
Ole Miss enjoyed its most successful season under head coach Hugh Freeze in 2015. The Rebels improved to 9-4 (5-3 SEC) and were the only SEC team to defeat eventual conference champions Alabama.
The team also enjoyed wins against two other ranked opponents including a 31-17 rout of Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. It was the biggest matchup between the in-state rivals in recent memory given the surprising success of both programs, who finished second and third respectively in the SEC West.
Likewise, the two programs ranked back-to-back in the SEC’s recruiting standings for the 2015 class. The Rebels ranked No. 17 overall and the Bulldogs were No. 18.
Ole Miss’ most notable signee is JUCO transfer Chad Kelly. The former four-star high school prospect and Clemson backup ranked as the top JUCO dual-threat quarterback for 2015.
For Kelly, the issue has never been talent, rather a lack of maturity. Though he’s promised that won’t be a problem in Oxford, his track record of bad off-field decisions — including a night club incident days after his signing — suggests otherwise.
Still, Kelly is the projected starter following the departure of Bo Wallace. If he can mature he will inherit several top SEC targets and a pair of incoming four-star wide receivers.
Damarkus Lodge ranked as the Rebels’ top prospect and the No. 6 wide receiver. The 6-2.5, 190-pound freshman could make an immediate transition to the college game but faces a depth chart full of upperclassmen.
Van Jefferson ranked as Ole Miss’ third highest prospect. The former Georgia commit announced his decision to join the Rebels in January but kept his commitment open until National Signing Day.
Like Lodge, Jefferson has the talent to excel in the SEC but needs to compete with veterans for playing time. However, both receivers will make a long-term impact on the program as it continues to improve.
Tony Bridges could also make an impact in 2015. He ranked as the top JUCO cornerback and joins a unit looking to replace All-Americans Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt.
Safety Armani Linton also has the potential to continue the Rebels’ success at defensive back. The four-star prospect has great size and ball skills but will likely sit behind senior free safety Trae Elston.
The Rebels enter as a serious contender in the SEC West two seasons after a program changing 2013 recruiting class. Ole Miss continues to improve with consistent success on the recruiting trail and should stay in contention for several years.