Although Ole Miss loses five starting offensive linemen from 2015, the Rebels return experience and depth in 2016

Ole Miss needs to replace two NFL draft picks and three other significant starters on the offensive line in 2016.

Associated Press

Departing Offensive Linemen

Laremy Tunsil, Fahn Cooper, Ben Still, Justin Bell and Aaron Morris.

Returning Offensive Linemen

Javon Patterson, Rod Taylor, Sean Rawlings, Robert Conyers, Jordan Sims, Alex Givens, Jeremy Liggins, Daronte Bouldin, Talbot Buys, Michael Howard, Jacob Feely, Tyler Putman and Sam Johnson.

Class of 2016 Signees

Greg Little, Bryce Mathews, Eli Johnson, Royce Newman, Chandler Tuitt and Jack DeFoor.

© Greg Powers

Tackles

The biggest question heading into fall camp is, who will replace All-SEC left tackle Laremy Tunsil? The leading candidate is true freshman Greg Little. Like Tunsil, Little signed with Ole Miss ranked as the top offensive tackle in the country. Little certainly has the size and talent to play significant snaps his freshman year, but he might take a few games to fully adjust to the tempo of college football.

 When Ole Miss released its preseason depth chart many fans were surprised to see former TE/QB Jeremy Liggins listed as the starting left tackle. Liggins practiced at left tackle in the spring of 2015 before moving to tight end that summer. He served as a backup tight end and wildcat quarterback last fall but took first-team reps at both tackle spots this past spring. While he looked more comfortable on the offensive line his second go around, Liggins most likely won't see significant time on the line this fall. Playing tackle is not easy in the SEC, especially for a player who hasn't been at that position for a long time. Look for Liggins to be used more as a blocking tight end and in wildcat packages this fall.

Redshirt freshman Alex Givens saw significant snaps at left tackle in the spring and received praise from coaches for his toughness. Givens definitely seems to have a better grasp of the Ole Miss system heading into fall practice and will most likely receive quality playing time this fall as a backup at both tackle spots. If Little isn't ready to start at left tackle for the Rebels season opener against Florida State, look for junior Rod Taylor to step in as the starter. Taylor will most likely compete for the starting right guard spot this fall, but has athleticism and enough experience to play tackle. Senior Robert Conyers could also step in as the starter while Little acclimates to the position.

The favorites to start at right tackle are sophomore Sean Rawlings and senior Robert Conyers. Both players could also start at center. Rawlings started seven games at right tackle as a redshirt freshman last season but was recruited to be the center of the future for the Rebels. Conyers has started at center and right tackle in his Ole Miss career. While he is listed as the starting center heading into fall practice, Conyers may end up at right tackle against Florida State. Taylor could also see time at the right tackle spot.

Redshirt freshman Michael Howard is listed as the backup right tackle on the two-deep preseason depth chart, but he will most likely need to add more size before he sees quality playing time. Outside of Little, the only other newcomer that might make an impact is Bryce Mathews. While he will most likely redshirt, Mathews is the favorite to be the future starting right tackle for the Rebels.

Ole Miss OL Javon Patterson

Guards

Sophomore Javon Patterson is the player to beat for the left guard position heading into fall camp. Patterson played in 12 games last fall and started in six. While he struggled at times against some elite defensive lines, Patterson impressed many with his raw athleticism as a true freshman. He continued to improve throughout the spring and enters this fall as a young leader on the Ole Miss offensive line.

Taylor was projected as the Rebels' starting left guard last fall until a shoulder injury forced him to miss time and relinquish the position to Patterson. While Taylor is listed behind Patterson entering fall camp, right guard seems to be the main spot he will compete for.

Sophomore Jordan Sims is currently listed as the starter at right guard entering the fall, but Taylor will push Sims for the starting spot. Sims lost significant weight entering the 2015 season and started in some key games at right guard for the Rebels. Even if Sims loses the competition to Taylor this fall, he will continue to see quality snaps at right guard and may even take some snaps at left guard.

Look for junior Daronte Bouldin to make an impact as a backup guard this fall. Bouldin is considered one of the strongest players on the Ole Miss football team and has experience as a backup guard.

Ole Miss OL Sean Rawlings

Centers

Center is an intriguing position for Ole Miss heading into fall camp. While Conyers is listed as the starter heading into the fall, Rawlings might end up as the eventual starter. Conyers has more experience at the position than Rawlings. He was the Rebels starting center last fall until a torn ACL sidelined him for the year. While Conyers might start at center to begin the year, look for Rawlings to share some time at the position.

The backup center spot has some question marks surrounding it. Outside of true freshman Eli Johnson, who went through spring drills as an early enrollee, there doesn't seem to be a true backup center for the Rebels. Patterson seems to be a viable option to move from left guard to center if needed in case of an emergency. 


OM Spirit Top Stories