The chaotic and swift resignation of Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze on Thursday night has left the program scrambling, which could benefit Tennessee.
With Freeze gone, a self-imposed postseason ban for the 2017 season for the Rebels, and more looming NCAA punishment, Ole Miss players may begin to look at transfer options. Players could transfer without sitting out a year if the NCAA’s punishment brings a postseason ban for an additional year.
Some Rebels certainly seem like prime candidates for Tennessee to pursue if they indeed choose to transfer.
Ole Miss has 14 players on its roster from the Volunteer State. Nine will be underclassmen this fall. The most likely players the Vols would pursue, should they choose to transfer, are a trio of Nashville-area natives.
Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Bryce Matthews seems like an oblivious choice as one of the most likely to look around and think about the Vols. Matthews had considered Tennessee and Texas A&M, even attending Orange Capet Day in 2015, before ultimately committing to Ole Miss.
The offensive tackle has yet to break into the line rotation for the Rebels and looks to be just outside of the two-deep heading into the fall.
Matthews received a lot of attention in high school playing for Brentwood Academy. He rated as a 4-star tackle out of high school and the No. 248 prospect in the country, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
It would not be inconceivable to think Matthews, still young and on the outside looking into the rotation, could look elsewhere.
Fellow offensive lineman Alex Givens could also get a look from the Vols should he decide to transfer.
Tennessee didn’t pursue Givens as hard out of high school as it did Matthews; however, Givens has more talent at the moment.
Givens projects to start at right tackle for the Rebels as a sophomore. He rated as a 3-star tackle coming out of Nashville Christian School.
Yet of the two, Matthews seems like a more likely get for the Vols.
The ‘dream get’ for Tennessee from Ole Miss’ roster, however, plays wide receiver.
Van Jefferson caught 49 passes for 543 yards and 3 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman last season.
He played for Ravenwood High School in Brentwood and came out rated as a 4-star prospect.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound wide receiver attended Orange Carpet Day in 2014 before the Vols fell off in his recruitment.
Jefferson would get plenty of looks at Ole Miss this season, though.
If the situation changes, Tennessee could make the call.