HOOVER, Ala. — Another season of Ole Miss football is about to begin, and the Rebels have released their preseason media guide before the 2017 SEC Media Days start on Monday.
As part of the release, the Rebels included an updated depth chart. Here’s a quick glance at the Ole Miss players expected to take the field this fall.
Analysis: This will be an interesting season in Oxford. The Rebels are coming off a disappointing 5-7 finish in 2016 that included a 2-6 mark in the SEC. All of the offseason uncertainties related to the NCAA investigation have created many questions with Ole Miss, and it’s unclear how the Rebels will handle the off-the-field drama in the coming months.
Of course, much of Ole Miss’ success will be determined by Shea Patterson’s ability to take a step forward at quarterback. He showed promise at times last season, throwing for 880 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in 3 games. If he develops, the Rebels offense has a chance to recover after being underwhelming at times last season. In retrospect, if Patterson has a decent year, that experience gained at the end of the 2016 season could prove to be valuable.
Jordan Wilkins will be the top running-back option after he gained 740 yards on 124 carries with 5 touchdowns last season. D.K. Metcalf, DaMarkus Lodge, A.J. Brown and Van Jefferson are expected to be among the top targets for the Rebels at wide receiver.
On defense, it will be interesting to see how the Rebels develop. Ole Miss is returning 28 lettermen on defense, with 14 lettermen lost from the 2016 team. The offense lost six starters and the defense five.
Analysis: Gary Wunderlich was solid as a kicker last year, making 22 of 23 attempts. That was significant improvement from the season before, when he made only 19 of 25 tries. Will Gleeson had 28 punts that averaged 44.1 yards last year. For his career, he has 129 punts with a 42.0 yard average.
Outlook: As usual, things won’t be easy for Ole Miss playing in the SEC West. The Rebels have likely victories against South Alabama and Tennessee-Martin to begin before an intriguing road game against California on Sept. 16. After a bye week, Ole Miss travels to Alabama and Auburn for its first two SEC games. Ole Miss gets LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M at home. But road games against Kentucky and Mississippi State could be hard. It’s no surprise, but much will depend on Patterson’s development. It will be a fascinating year for Ole Miss after all of the offseason drama involving the program.