Laquon Treadwell suffered one of the most gruesome injuries of the 2015 season against Auburn last November. The Ole Miss wide receiver caught a screen pass and ran all the way to the 1-yard line before being tackled from behind and taking an awkward fall.
Treadwell broke his tibia and dislocated his ankle during the play, which ended his season. Prior to the injury, the sophomore was one of the SEC’s top wide receivers and finished with 48 receptions (ninth in the conference), 632 yards and five touchdowns.
Ole Miss lost the game 35-31, its second loss of the season. The Rebels went 2-2 in Treadwell’s absence after starting the season at 8-1.
But the rising junior showed fans that he’s ready for the upcoming season with Instagram posts showing him doing backflips and running receiver routes. Although coach Hugh Freeze “cringed” at the sight of his star receiver on a trampoline, the Ole Miss faithful can breathe a sigh of relief that Treadwell should be ready for the team’s season opener against Tennessee-Martin on Sept. 5.
The Rebels stock is high entering 2015 with their program-changing 2013 recruiting class in its third season. Treadwell — alongside Evan Engram, the SEC’s top tight end — is the biggest offensive weapon from the group of signees.
He’s one of the top candidates to claim Amari Cooper’s throne as the SEC’s top receiver if healthy. Treadwell also needs to provide a security option for new starter Chad Kelly, who transferred from junior college in December.
Kelly had enough talent to sign with Clemson as a four-star high school prospect, but showed a lack of maturity throughout his collegiate career. Treadwell not only needs to provide the quarterback with a primary target, but also assume the role of offensive leader.
For Ole Miss to succeed, the rising junior wideout needs to be at full strength. The Rebels passing attack is stacked, so much so that even Bo Wallace managed to put up inflated numbers during his hot-and-cold tenure. But Treadwell is what makes the group so talented and he provides a playmaking ability that can stretch the field.
Ole Miss is a team with high expectations coming off a surprising 9-4 (5-3 SEC) season. However, the Rebels face a difficult schedule in college football’s toughest division.
The SEC West has several teams capable of contending for a College Football Playoff appearance. Treadwell needs to make an impactful return if Ole Miss is going to contend for an SEC West division title in 2015.