D.K. Metcalf

Two-deep depth chart settled as Ole Miss heads into primetime matchup with Florida State Monday night

At long last, the 2016 season is upon us. Ole Miss and Florida State are set for kickoff in Orlando, Fla., tonight at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN. And for the Rebels, the two-deep depth chart is settled. The Ole Miss Spirit takes one final look.

Offense:

LT – Rod Taylor, Greg Little

LG – Javon Patterson, Jordan Sims

C – Robert Conyers, Sean Rawlings

RG – Jordan Sims, Daronte Bouldin

RT – Sean Rawlings, Alex Givens

 

TE – Evan Engram, Taz Zettergren, Hunter Thurley, Octavious Cooley, (heavy sets) Ty Quick

RB – Akeem Judd OR Eric Swinney, Eugene Brazley

QB – Chad Kelly, Shea Patterson OR Jason Pellerin

 

WR – Damore’ea Stringfellow, D.K. Metcalf

SLOT – Van Jefferson, Markell Pack

WR – Quincy Adeboyejo, DaMarkus Lodge, A.J. Brown

Spirit's Take:

The Ole Miss offense opened fall practices with a handful of question marks. Chief among them? Who would replace Laremy Tunsil at left tackle. Alex Givens was No. 1 all spring, and he was given first crack at the job in the early days of camp. However, it didn’t take long for veteran Rod Taylor to take over, and he’s held on atop the depth chart with little or no threat to his standing for the better part of a month. Taylor was second only to Tunsil in terms of talent entering his sophomore season, and he would have started every game at guard had he not injured his shoulder in the preseason. Now fully healthy, it’s time for Taylor — who has struggled with consistency on and off the field — to take the next step and protect the most valuable player on the Rebels’ roster, quarterback Chad Kelly. Givens will act as the swing tackle and sixth offensive lineman, meaning he’s in line for a significant role. True freshman Greg Little will start sooner rather than later, which could shift Taylor, a junior, back inside. But that’s a concern for another day. For now, Taylor is the guy, and he’s far and away the most intriguing player to watch when Ole Miss kicks off against Florida State tonight at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN. As for the rest of the offense, well, the lineup has been all but set for a while. Expect to see D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown on the field early, and Eric Swinney has breakout potential as a prototypical three-down back. 

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Chad Kelly

Defense: 

DE – Marquis Haynes, Victor Evans

NT – D.J. Jones, Issac Gross, Ross Donelly, Herbert Moore

DT – Breeland Speaks, Benito Jones, Josiah Coatney, Austrian Robinson

DE – John Youngblood, Fadol Brown, Garrard McDowell

 

LB – Terry Caldwell, Tayler Polk, Temario Strong

LB – Demarquis Gates, Rommel Mageo, Detric Bing-Dukes

CB – Ken Webster, Carlos Davis, Jaylon Jones, Cam Ordway

CB – Tony Bridges, Jalen Julius, Kailo Moore

FS – Zedrick Woods, C.J. Hampton

ROVER – Myles Hartsfield, Deontay Anderson

HUSKY  Tony Conner, A.J. Moore, Montrell Custis


Spirit's Take:

One of the only true position battles heading into camp was C.J. Hampton and Zedrick Woods at free safety. The hope was Hampton, the former four-star and upperclassman, would seize a starting role and act as a stabilizing force on the back end of the Rebel defense, one that lost a pair of four-year starters in Trae Elston and Mike Hilton. He has the experience, and Ole Miss envisioned him seamlessly taking over the calls for Trae Elston, who was the field general on the back end. However, Hampton did little on the field to win support over the course of the last month. Woods, meanwhile, continued to do what’s he done since his arrival last season: consistently produce and show an ability to make solid, if unspectacular, plays. Woods is a high floor, low ceiling player. He’s never going to wow you with his athleticism, but he’s assignment sound and workmanlike in his approach. He's always going to be where he needs to be, and he can go get the ball when he needs to. Sometimes, especially at a need position, such a player is ideal. The Ole Miss coaching staff loves Woods, and they can sleep better knowing what they have, even if he's not the perfect, how-you-draw-it-up free safety. Myles Hartsfield has the makings of a star with an NFL future certainly possible. But he’s a true freshman, and the adjustment period all players face is much more up and down for true freshmen. Just as Hartsfield is going to make jaw-dropping plays, he'll make plays that leave you shaking your head, too. Them’s the breaks when you start a player with a blank college resume, but also helps explain why such a consistent, reliable sophomore in Woods is, again, invaluable. He helps alleviate the risk. As far as the rest of the defense, the defensive line is deep, and it received a big boost in the return of senior defensive end Fadol Brown. Brown won’t start, instead conceding his spot to fellow senior John Youngblood, but he could see upwards of 20 snaps, which, considering the time he spent on the shelf as he recovered from a foot injury, is no small number.

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Benito Jones

Specialists: 

PK – Gary Wunderlich, Nathan Noble

P – Will Gleeson OR Gary Wunderlich

KO – Nathan Noble, Gary Wunderlich

LS – Will Few, Chadwick Lamar

Holder – Will Gleeson, Nathan Noble

 

KR – Carlos Davis, Kailo Moore

LB – Carlos Davis, Van Jefferson


Spirit's Take:

The only real news to come out of fall camp for the Ole Miss specialists is Carlos Davis is back returning kicks and punts, following a season in which he was replaced in those duties due to his inability to not turn the ball over. How quickly some forget, though, that Davis was a weapon as a returner before his multi-game struggle with muff and fumbleitis. Jalen Julius and Tre Nixon represent the future in the return game, but for now, the veteran gets the nod. He’s been through it before, and if he returns to pre-struggles form, he could be the answer Ole Miss has been looking for all along — at least in this ever-important 2016 season.

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Gary Wunderlich

Stock Report: Instant-Impact Newcomers

(Which newcomers are best positioned to make a significant impact against Florida State?)

1. Myles Hartsfield

2. Benito Jones

3. A.J. Brown

4. D.K. Metcalf

5. Greg Little


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