When Ole Miss reeled in the third-best recruiting class in the SEC — and fifth-best nationally — in 2016, plenty of those newcomers appeared on preseason depth charts for the Rebels.
So, how many of those new faces lived up to the hype and saw playing time last fall?
In total, 12 of the 25 players that enrolled in 2016 made it onto the field. Newcomers appeared in 107 games and made 30 starts.
Shea Patterson, a 5-star recruit, stepped in for the injured Chad Kelly late in the season and threw for 880 yards and 6 touchdowns in his three starts. He also rushed for 169 yards on 41 carries.
Fellow freshman D’Vaughn Pennamon recorded 58 yards rushing and a touchdowns on 20 carries.
A.J. Brown caught 29 passes for 412 yards and 2 touchdowns and D.K. Metcalf caught 2 passes for 13 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Little, another 5-star prospect, made five starts at tackle and played in every game as a true freshman.
The third 5-star prospect in the class, Benito Jones, tallied 39 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and half a sack in 12 games at defensive tackle.
Myles Hartsfield, a 3-star safety, started every game in the secondary. He was fifth on the team with 43 tackles. Deontay Anderson (32 tackles) and Jaylon Jones (26 tackles) were also key contributors on that side of the ball.
Redshirts and defections
Eleven players in the class took a redshirt last season, and five of those were 4-star recruits. Wide receiver Tre Nixon, tackle Bryce Mathews, defensive end Charles Wiley and tight ends Gabe Angel and Jacob Mathis will be eager to impress this spring.
Justin Connor, a 4-star running back prospect, left the program and wound up at East Mississippi Community College while 3-star safety Greg Eisworth II redshirted last fall before deciding to transfer.
The Rebels threw their freshmen into the fire last season, and as is often the case with newcomers, the results were mixed.
Still, the dozen players who took the field gained valuable experience, and 10 of those players appear in the starting lineup of one projected spring depth chart.
Ole Miss may not be making an appearance in a bowl game this season, but there’s still plenty of young talent on the roster.