DL Coach Chris Kiffin has created an atmosphere of competition and opportunity with the Ole Miss defensive line that started paying big dividends three years ago and has continued to flourish since.
This year, though, may be the top of the totem pole.
With double digit players who are trusted in any situation at any time to fill four spots, Kiffin has to be pleased.
"We've been pretty good overall in camp. We've got good competition and good depth and they all know they are going to get to play which keeps them motivated," Kiffin explained. "They are challenging each other and elevating their games. We feel we can sub a whole unit at any time, especially when we are going against a tempo offense."
Sophomore Marquis Haynes is holding down one end position with John Youngblood and Victor Evans also helping out.
"Marquis has improved his technique and that has helped him against the run and to become an even better pass rusher. We can scheme some things to protect him a little too at times if we need to, but he's become a polished pass rusher due to better technique. He goes against Laremy Tunsil every day. I have to remind him he is going against a top 5 NFL pick and not to get discouraged. It has helped him a lot. Alabama's Cam Robinson will be the same kind of challenge and Cam got after him pretty good last year, but I think Marquis will be more prepared this time around, " Kiffin noted. "Victor is coming along. He's doing fine. He'll have a role and will have to be ready when his number is called.
"But the guy who has really impressed me is Youngblood. He can play all positions, he's very reliable, he rarely makes mistakes. I have no problem playing him."
At noseguard, Woodrow Hamilton is currently number one is backed by Issac Gross. At the three-technique tackle Robert Nkemdiche and D.J. Jones anchor the position and Breeland Speaks can play either.
"Breeland and D.J. are taking Bryon Bennett and Lavon Hooks' places and I think they are doing very well. Both are extremely athletic and they can both play the run and get to the quarterback," noted Chris. "We all know how athletic and good Robert is. We are also going to play him some at end - he looks raw there, but he's so athletic, he can help us there.
"We know what Issac can do as well and Woody has lost 15-20 pounds in the offseason and has made himself into an NFL prospect in my opinion. He is a totally different player."
At the other end, Fadol Brown and Channing Ward are holding down the fort.
"Last year, I thought Robert was going to have a come-out year. This year, I think it's going to be Fadol. He's just improving, improving, improving," noted Kiff. "With Channing, it's baby steps, but I think he is very comfortable now and is playing faster. He will have a big time role for us, probably around 30 snaps a game."
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