Stock Report: Five to Watch

Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1 SEC) meets Kentucky (3-1, 0-1 SEC) Saturday at 11:21 a.m. Go inside for five players to keep an eye on as kickoff approaches.

#34 RB - Brandon Bolden
Baton Rouge, La. | JR-2L
SIZE: 5-11/215
STOCK: En Fuego
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: A 55-38 win over Fresno State was the coming out party for Brandon Bolden, a running back all associated with Ole Miss once considered a budding star following an impressive freshman season. But Bolden was a disappointment in his sophomore season, when he opened as Ole Miss' starting running back, only to give way to all-time great Dexter McCluster. As the season wore on, Bolden's role in the offense gradually lessened, almost to the point where most of his touches came in the passing game. Saturday, though, Bolden was an unstoppable force, racking up 228 yards on 19 carries. He slammed the door shut on any possible comeback, his aggressive running style too much to overcome for a vulnerable Bulldog defense. Bolden all but carried his team to its second win of the season, an impressive display behind a new-look offensive line. Now it's time for an encore. Make no mistake, Kentucky is far stouter up front than Fresno State and present a challenge for the Rebels and their running game. A solid performance by Bolden is vital, especially with Ole Miss not afforded the luxury of Enrique Davis as a fall-back option. Helping matters, however, is freshman Jeff Scott. The smallish back provides the lightening to Bolden's thunder, the duo combining to form a formidable tandem for a once-beleaguered ground attack. But Bolden is the key cog here. He has to lead the way and establish the yards, as this weekend's meeting is sure to be tightly-fought contest inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
QUOTABLE: "It's going to be a more intense level for everybody (against Kentucky). We don't want to go 0-2 in the SEC. That's kind of like a bad standard for everybody. We've already had the bad taste in our mouth from when we were 0-2 at home. We're just sick of losing right now. We're just trying to get past it."
WEEK 4 TOTALS: 19 carries, 228 yards, 2 touchdowns
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 13 carries, 121 yards, 1 touchdown

#24 CB - Tony Grimes
Hollywood, Fla. | FR-HS
SIZE: 5-11/165
STOCK: Rising
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt had reason for optimism Thursday. Starting cornerback Jeremy McGee looked more like himself in practice, leaving open the possibility that he would be available to play this weekend against Kentucky. But whether the senior is on the field or not, Tony Grimes will surely see extended time, as Ole Miss is thin at cornerback and Grimes has already proven to be one of the more talented players at his position. Grimes first appeared in a win at Tulane, but his most extended action came when McGee when down with a concussion against Fresno State. Grimes took his lumps, too. Bulldog quarterback Ryan Colburn tested Grimes often, and the true freshman was victimized for a handful of big plays. However, Grimes didn't bat an eye. He continued to battle, and actually improved as the game went along. It was somewhat of a maturity test, a challenge to his resiliency when times are tough at the highest level he's ever played. And he responded. With tremendous upside, Grimes has the potential to develop into a star in the Southeastern Conference, even if forced to expedite his development at a rapid rate. Remember, Grimes was a late arrival to preseason camp. He's still learning as he goes. But if he continues at his current pace, he'll be a fixture in the Ole Miss secondary for years to come.
QUOTABLE: "I'm gaining more confidence every day. I'm starting to be able to stick to our receivers better and better, and I know they're good, so that boosts my confidence. I want to play aggressive and fast. You always have to go hard. You can't get away with some stuff on this level that you could in high school. If you make a mistake, or get lax, you pay dearly. I'm looking forward to playing against Kentucky. It's a challenge, but I'm ready to compete."
WEEK 4 TOTALS: 6 total tackles
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 4 tackles, 2 pass breakups

#90 DE - Gerald Rivers
Ellenwood, Ga. | SO-1L
SIZE: 6-5/245
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: What were the football gods waiting for Saturday? For Houston Nutt to cry, "Uncle?" Ole Miss suffered four injuries to starters in its pummeling of Fresno State. First, and easily the most significant, was the devastating loss of Kentrell Lockett, one of the team's captain and its undisputed leader. The senior defensive end tore his ACL, requiring surgery, and won't play another down for the Rebels in 2010. Which leads us to Gerald Rivers, a redshirt sophomore, who already subbed for Lockett once this season in an upset loss to Jacksonville State. It's his job to lose now, considering the wealth of inexperienced newcomers sitting behind him. Rivers isn't flashy, but he's gotten better over time. He's decent against the run, though he can get caught up in traffic through missed assignments. He isn't near the pass-rushing threat of Lockett, but he did register a sack last weekend when Fresno State was threatening to score deep in Ole Miss territory midway through the game. To replace the production lost in Lockett, an unenviable task, he'll need to limit the mental lapses and prove consistent. Attempting to do too much or be the player he's replacing would be unwise. Rivers has the tools to be effective as a starter. His time is now, whether he expected it or not. He has to step up because, honestly, there's no one else.
QUOTABLE: "It's always got to be like that. When one person goes down, the next person has to be ready to go up. Coach Nutt keeps that standard up for us. Everybody has to be able to play as high as the first level. (Kentrell Lockett) is a great player. When he goes on the field, he really commands, he talks, he keeps everybody going. That's going to be something that's going to be missed."
WEEK 4 TOTALS: 2 total tackles, 1 sack
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 5 tackles, 2 sacks

Miami, Fla. | FR-RS
SIZE: 5-11/175
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Similar to Grimes, Charles Sawyer could make a case as being the most talented cornerback on the Ole Miss roster. He's an opportunistic player with a knack for turnovers, evidenced by his fumble recovery against Fresno State. However, outside of one meaningful play, Sawyer hasn't made the splash most had predicted in his redshirt freshman season. He has undeniable talent, but has yet to notch an interception or make those eye-popping plays he made routinely in the preseason. Yes, he's been steady and produced admirable numbers. Yes, Ole Miss is only four games into its season. And, no, he's in absolutely no danger of losing his job. But Ole Miss needs his play-making ability to resurface and quickly. Its secondary has been well below-average, to put it nicely, even yielding 32 completions to Bulldog quarterback Ryan Colburn over 42 passing attempts. If McGee is unable to play Saturday, Sawyer will make the jump from nickel corner to starter opposite Marcus Temple. It would be an important step for him, too. Realistically, he could earn the job outright with a good performance, especially against a capable conference foe in Kentucky.
QUOTABLE: "The game hasn't been faster at all. I thought it was going to be faster. That first game, it was super fast, because it was my first game. But it's getting slower and slower. I want to play perfect. Looking at film, I've done some things wrong. There's some mistakes I've got to get ironed out."
WEEK 4 TOTALS: 3 total tackles, 1 fumble recovery
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 6 tackles, 1 interception, 2 pass breakups

#5 WR - Melvin Harris
Buford, Ga. | SO-1L
SIZE: 6-7/205
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Melvin Harris opened his sophomore season with a bang, hauling in Ole Miss' first recorded touchdown of the 2010 season. But since a season-opening loss to Jacksonville State, and up until Ole Miss' fourth game of the season against Fresno State, Harris had been a forgotten man. He registered a grand total of three catches for only 29 yards and no touchdowns in a win at Tulane and loss to Vanderbilt. However, Harris was the leading receiver in a rout of Fresno State, though he caught only three passes. He recorded 54 receiving yards and a long touchdown grab of 30 yards. Nutt said in his press conference Monday that Ole Miss can't forget to get Harris involved in the offense. No kidding. He's a legitimate deep-threat and red-zone target, measuring in at 6-foot-7. His vertical jump is through the roof and his speed decent. What he needs is the ball, especially for a passing attack lacking in the touchdown department. He can be a go-to receiver if given the opportunity, as he's proved already. He'll win most 50-50 battles with cornerbacks. A quarterback need only to put the ball in the air and he's likely to come down with it. Look for Harris to get touches early and often when Kentucky rolls into town.
QUOTABLE: "It felt great, man (to be involved in the offense again). I got the opportunity to go out and show what I can do. In the red zone, man, I've got a major advantage. I'm going to come down with it, believe that."
WEEK 4 TOTALS: 3 receptions, 54 yards, 1 touchdown
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 6 receptions, 77 yards, 2 touchdowns

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