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Ole Miss football has one of the most interesting quarterback rooms in the country after adding former Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders from the transfer portal on Thursday morning. Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss Jr. and the Rebels’ staff will have a decision to make, again.
A three-way quarterback competition is set to unfold.
Last year, Ole Miss acquired Jaxson Dart through the transfer portal. The former USC quarterback battled with four-star Luke Altmeyer all of the way through the first two weeks of the season. He ultimately won the job and started every game in 2022.
Dart will have to do it all over again in 2023.
After spending last season as the backup, Altmeyer transferred out. As did third-string (and Mississippi legend) Kinkead Dent.
That left Kiffin and the Rebels without a second-string quarterback or any depth at the position. As a result, it was time to hit the transfer portal.
And boy did they!
On Wednesday, former five-star LSU quarterback Walker Howard chose Ole Miss over TCU and Florida, amongst others. It was a big get that turned heads across the college football landscape.
Less than 24 hours later, Kiffin and Weiss made another splash. Spencer Sanders, a four-year starter at Oklahoma State, announced that he too is transferring to The ‘Sip.
This is where things get interesting. One of the most talented, loaded quarterback rooms for next season resides in Oxford, Mississippi.
Who will start at quarterback for Ole Miss: Spencer Sanders, Jaxson Dart or Walker Howard?
That question is yet to be answered.
According to sources within the program, “it is going to be an honest competition between all three high-quality quarterbacks.” It will be “a great competition but also something to manage.”
When the Rebels open spring practice in March/April, the depth chart will be blank. Sanders, Howard and Dart will all be afforded the opportunity to win the starting job.
Howard, who committed to LSU in the Class of 2022, appeared in two games for the Tigers last season but did not start. He completed 155-of-259 passes for 2,394 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior.
Howard was told by the Ole Miss staff that he would get a chance to compete for meaningful reps and likely sit no less than No. 2 on the depth chart. The former will be true, but there is no telling where he will end up in terms of positioning. He also knew that Sanders was likely set to commit when making his decision.
Sanders, who played his first four years under Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State, completed 61% of his 1,254 pass attempts for 9,553 yards and 67 touchdowns in 43 games. He also ran for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns on 493 rushing attempts.
Sanders appears to be betting on himself. He believes that he has a chance to win the starting job over both Dart and Howard.
The question is whether he could enter the portal again over the summer as a graduate transfer if he does not have a chance to win the job after the spring.
Dart, who played six games at USC before transferring south, completed 62.4% of his passes for 2,974 yards and 20 touchdowns last fall. He also added 614 yards on 128 carries.
People close to Dart confirm that he received interest from multiple schools in regard to leaving, as Ole Miss flirted with Howard and Sanders. BYU, in particular, expressed its desire to bring him back home to Utah.
However, Dart does not want to transfer again. He believes that it is his team in Oxford and isn’t interested in going anywhere. It will likely be his job to lose this offseason, but with the newly-acquired talent breathing down his neck, he will have to step up and show improvement.
Regardless of what plays out, Kiffin and his staff will make the best decision for them. Obviously.
That could be Sanders, Dart or Howard. All three quarterbacks will be given the opportunity to compete for the starting job on equal standing— though the incumbent typically gets slight benefit.