Departing Wide Receivers
Laquon Treadwell, Cody Core and Collins Moore.
Returning Wide Receivers
Quincy Adeboyejo, Damore'ea Stringfellow, Van Jefferson, DeMarkus Lodge, Markell Pack, Derrick Jones, Alex Weber, Trey Bledsoe, and Cale Luke.
Class of 2016 Signees
A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Tre Nixon.
Wide receiver is one of the most loaded spots for Ole Miss in 2016. Even though the Rebels enter fall camp without Laquon Treadwell, who accounted for 82 receptions, 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015, Ole Miss has plenty of talent and depth on the roster to make up for Treadwell's production.
Leading the group will be senior Quincy Adeboyejo and junior Damore'ea Stringfellow. Adeboyejo was second on the team for receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2015. Adeboyejo's best assets are his quickness and route running ability. He will provide quarterback Chad Kelly a speedy option on the outside and looks to be a deep threat for the Rebels in 2016. Stringfellow will look to make up for the loss of Treadwell's size and physicality. He will be a big target for Kelly and could draw double coverage from opponents. Stringfellow has all the tools to become a dominant SEC receiver. He's big but also has good speed to pick up yards after the catch. He can block well and can also go up with a corner to fight for the ball. If he stays healthy and produces at a high level, Stringfellow may be on his way to the NFL draft a year early.
When the Ole Miss released its preseason depth chart, redshirt freshman Van Jefferson was listed ahead of junior Markell Pack for the starting slot receiver spot. While Pack is still working on his consistency, Jefferson has blossomed. Jefferson received the Eli Manning Award this past spring as the most improved offensive player and looks to make a mark in his debut season. He gained 10 pounds this offseason and is now listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds. While Ole Miss has seemingly endless options looking to make a mark at wide receiver this season, it may be Jefferson that makes the biggest plays when the Rebels need it the most. Pack entered Ole Miss with high expectations. The junior from Purvis, Miss. has shown flashes at times but hasn't been consistent enough to meet his expectations. This fall will be telling for what to expect from Pack in the future.
DeMarkus Lodge entered Ole Miss at the same time as Jefferson, but refused to redshirt his freshman season. Although he played in eight games, Lodge had no significant impact and only hauled in one pass for a touchdown in a 76-3 blowout win against UT-Martin. Like Jefferson, Lodge had an impressive spring and looks to make an impact this fall as a backup to Stringfellow or Adeboyejo. Derrick Jones enters his senior season with the Rebels as another backup option on the outside. Jones split time at receiver and cornerback in 2014 before moving permanently to receiver in 2015. Expect Jones to improve his numbers in 2016 as he enters his second straight season as solely a wide receiver.
Ole Miss signed three elite wide receivers in the class of 2016. A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Tre Nixon were all higly rated four stars by Scout and would all probably start for the Rebels as freshmen in the past, but not in 2016. Hugh Freeze and his staff have signed so many elite receivers in their time in Oxford that competing for a spot in the rotation will be a challenge for these true freshmen. Nixon might be the most likely to see the field early, as the Rebels could use him as a returner on special teams. The Vera, Fla. product has lighting fast speed and could provide Ole Miss the edge its been looking for in the punt return game. Brown and Metcalf are both big physical targets that will make an impact in the years to come for the Rebels. Both have improvements to make but one out of the two might see playing time, while the other redshirts in 2016.
Departing Tight Ends
Returning Tight Ends
Evan Engram, Hunter Thurley, Taz Zettergren, Dawson Knox and Ty Quick.
Class of 2016 Signees
Octavious Cooley, Jacob Mathis and Gabe Angel.
Evan Engram will be a force to be reckoned with in 2016. The senior is already the leader in receptions and receiving yards by a tight end for Ole Miss, and enters the fall as one of the big assets for Chad Kelly in the passing game. Engram improved his blocking skills this offseason and will be a challenge for SEC defenses in the fall. With so many receiving weapons to account for, defenses will be thrown off by Engram's size mixed with his speed. While corners will focus on receivers, safeties and linebackers will have trouble keeping up with Engram over the middle. Ole Miss will also move Engram around as a receiver this fall. He will be one of the most dynamic threats in the passing game in the SEC this season.
Newcomer Octavious Cooley will also look to make an impact at tight end this fall. For the first time since he took over, Hugh Freeze will have an elite backup to Engram. While Engram's size makes him more of a pass catching tight end, Cooley is better equipped to be a blocker. That doesn't mean the true freshman can't be a force in the passing game. At 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds Cooley has good speed and soft hands. In time, Cooley has the potential to be a nightmare for SEC linebackers and safeties.
Ole Miss also signed two other elite tight ends in Gabe Angel and Jacob Mathis. but both are expected to redshirt. They will provide Ole Miss talented options in the future. Expect Hunter Thurley and Taz Zettergren to see some time behind Engram and Cooley.