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Ole Miss kicks off its 2021 spring football session on Tuesday, and Lane Kiffin’s second year is going to be even more exciting than the first — here are a few reasons why.
1. Ole Miss Leads SEC West in Seniors Using COVID Eligibility
Ole Miss has 35 seniors on the roster, and 13 of them will use the extra season of eligibility allowed by the NCAA due the COVID-19 pandemic and return next year. Of the 13, eight seniors were starters last season.
“No SEC West team returns more COVID seniors or brings back more returning starters among COVID seniors than Ole Miss,” the Clarion Ledger reports. “Throw in traditional seniors like Ben Brown, Jacquez Jones, MoMo Sanogo and Keidron Smith, who have three years of starting experience as well, and this team is loaded with veterans.”
2. Young Guys
Ole Miss will have 14 early enrollees participating in spring practices — four-star quarterback Luke Altmyer, four-star tight end Hudson Wolfe, four-star defensive backs Tysheem Johnson, Dink Jackson and Markevious Brown and the top two junior college defensive tackles in the country, Isaiah Iton and Jamond Gordon.
Lane Kiffin’s team welcomed 18 new players to the program in January, including walk-ons.
3. Wide Receiver Competition
Ole Miss will have as many as 13 wide receivers competing, including COVID-returning seniors and returning starters Dontario Drummond and Braylon Sanders as well as juniors Jonathan Mingo and Dannis Jackson, the Clarion Ledger reports.
Freshman Brandon Buckhaulter, junior college signee Qua Davis and Western Kentucky transfer Jahcour Pearson competing for a spot.
“No one expects any of these players to average more than 10 catches per game or have three 200-yard games like Moore did a year ago,” the article reads. “But at one of the game’s most exciting positions, Ole Miss figures to have an exciting position battle.”
4. Who could forget about Matt Corral?
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral is listed as a top 20 Heisman Trophy contender in a handful of prominent sportsbooks — and for good reason. He led the nation in total offense per game last season and accounted for 33 touchdowns in 10 games in a season cut short and without spring practices.
Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby turned Corral into a player who will likely be picked as a first-team All-SEC quarterback in the preseason, the article details, and now the trio have had even more time together in the offseason.
The expectations for Corral — who earned the starting job at the start of the 2020 season — continue to rise, as do the expectations for Ole Miss to perform and contend in the SEC this season.