Chad Kelly and Laquon Treadwell (Photo Credit: USA Today)

A look back at the top moments of 2016 in Rebel athletics

From a New Year's day Sugar Bowl win to a school-record of Olympic qualifiers, Ole Miss athletics experienced some memorable moments in 2016. These are the Top 10.

10. WBB's Hot Start

Matt Insell/USA Today Images

Now in his fourth year at the helm of the Ole Miss women's basketball program, Matt Insell and the Rebel basketball team are putting in work this season. The Rebels are currently 11-2 entering a New Year's Day matchup against Arkansas to open SEC play. Led by sophomore Madinah Muhammad, junior Shandricka Sessom and senior Erica Sisk, Ole Miss has won five consecutive games, including 10 straight wins at the Pavilion. The Rebels are currently ranked No. 1 nationally for 3-point field goal percentage defense and are ranked Top 10 nationally in three different defensive categories. Ole Miss' biggest win of the season so far came on Dec. 14, when the Rebels put a 83-67 beatdown on Top 25-ranked Oregon.

9. J.B. Woodman's Stellar Season

Petre Thomas

J.B. Woodman concluded his Ole Miss baseball career in 2016 with his best season as a Rebel. Woodman finished with a .323 batting average and led Ole Miss with a .578 slugging percentage, 53 runs scored and 55 RBI. Woodman also blasted 14 home runs, which tied Florida's Peter Alonso for the most in the SEC on the year. While he was dominant as a hitter for the Rebels, Woodman increased his MLB Draft stock with his exceptional play in the outfield. Woodman ranked Top 3 in the country in outfield assists with nine in total, which was a league best. Seven of those assists occurred at the plate to prevent scores. For his efforts, Woodman was named a second-team All-American by Baseball America. MLB scouts took notice of Woodman's season, too, as he was drafted in the second round by the Toronto Blue Jays. With the selection, the Blue Jays made Woodman the highest Rebel chosen in the draft since Drew Pomeranz was taken in the first round by the Cleveland Indians in 2010.

8. Evan Engram's 2016 Campaign

Evan Engram returned to Ole Miss in 2016, with hopes of winning a SEC championship and increasing his NFL Draft stock. While Engram and the Rebels fell short of his first goal, Engram definitely achieved the latter. Engram put on one of the most impressive tight end showings in the country with 65 receptions for 926 yards and eight touchdowns. He was a matchup disaster for most opponents in 2016, and Engram finished the season statistically as Ole Miss' best receiver. He also concluded his stellar senior year as the SEC's leader in receiving yards. With his tremendous showing in 2016, Engram has set himself up to be selected early in the 2017 NFL Draft. 

7. Ole Miss Makes NFL Draft History

USA TODAY Images

NFL Draft night was forgettable for Ole Miss in many respects, and Laremy Tunsil's words continue to hamstring Ole Miss in its dealing with the NCAA, whose four-year colonoscopy of the football program appears seemingly never-ending. But the night was still historic. Ole Miss saw five Rebels drafted, three of which were taken in the first round, a school record. Tunsil was taken No. 13 overall by the Miami Dolphins, Laquon Treadwell was selected 23rd by the Minnesota Vikings and Robert Nkemdiche was selected 29th by the Arizona Cardinals, which was the first time Ole Miss had more than two players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. The final day of the three-day event saw Fahn Cooper taken in the fifth round by the San Francisco 49ers and Cody Core snatched up in the sixth round by the Cincinnati Bengals. The five draft picks were the most for the Rebels since the draft moved to a seven-round format in 1994.

6. Ole Miss Baseball's No. 1 Recruiting Class

Josh McCoy

In 2016 Mike Bianco's baseball program hauled in the first No. 1-ranked class in any sport in Ole Miss history. Baseball America ranked the Rebels' 18-man recruiting class at No. 1 after Ole Miss signed seven high school All-Americans and one junior college All-American. Five members of the class were selected in the 2016 MLB Draft, but luckily for Bianco, all decided to come play baseball in Oxford instead. Key signees include catchers Thomas Dillard and Cooper Johnson, shortstop Grae Kessinger and pitchers Ryan Rolison, Will Ethridge, Brady Schnauel, Houston Roth and Jason Barber.

5. The Pavilion Opens Its Doors

Petre Thomas

Ole Miss opened the doors to its brand-new, $96.5-million-dollar, multi-purpose arena on Jan. 7 with a 74-66 win over Alabama. In front of a sold-out crowd of 9,500, Ole Miss ushered in a new era for basketball. Gone are the days of Tad Smith Coliseum, the an outdated arena and the laughing stock of the SEC . Ole Miss was known for years to bring recruits to campus and show them every inch of the university except for the "Tad Pad." Since the Pavilion opened, Ole Miss has caught the eye of several high profile recruits, even picking up a commitment from four-star Oak Hill Academy guard Devontae Shuler. The new arena is second to none in terms of college basketball arenas across the country and has received glowing reviews from many who have visited. The most recent compliment came from Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

Ole Miss even had a gift ready for Calipari after he made a joke about squirrels being in the visitor's locker room in the last matchup between the Wildcats and Rebels at Tad Smith Coliseum in 2013.

4. Ole Miss Well Represented in Rio Olympics

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss had a total of nine representatives in the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Six former and current Rebels were a part of team USA including Raven Saunders, Gwen Berry, Sam Kendricks, Ricky Robertson, Brittney Reese and Ole Miss track & field head coach Connie Price-Smith, who served as head coach of the U.S. women’s track & field team. Former Ole Miss soccer standout Rafaelle Souza competed for her home country of Brazil, former Rebel basketball player Anthony Perez was a part of Venezuela's men's basketball team, while former Rebel track star Antwon Hicks was a part of the Nigerian men's track and field team. Reese received the silver medal for women's long jump, while Kendricks received a bronze for his efforts in men's pole vault.

3. Ole Miss Football Signs Top Five Recruiting Class

Sudu Upadhyay

Ole Miss football was hot at the beginning of 2016. The Rebels ended the 2015 season with a 10-3 record, including a 48-20 Sugar Bowl win against Oklahoma State. Ole Miss took the momentum of the 2015 season into National Signing Day in February and hauled in the highest-ranked recruiting class in school history. Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze called the class the "deepest" since he took over the program in 2012. The class included a plethora of high-profile recruits, including top-ranked QB Shea Patterson, top-ranked OT Greg Little, Top 5 safety Deontay Anderson and Top 5 WR A.J. Brown. Brown's commitment was the most satisfying for many Ole Miss fans, as the Rebels plucked him out of in-state rival Mississippi State's backyard of Starkville, Miss. In total, Ole Miss' 2016 recruiting class featured two five-star, 15 four-star and eight three-star recruits. Seven of the Rebels' 26 signees were considered Top 100 recruits by Scout.

2. Shea Patterson's Debut

The most memorable and exciting memory of a dreadful 2016 football season came on Nov. 12 in College Station, Texas, when Ole Miss upset then-No. 8-ranked Texas A&M, 29-28. The Rebels entered a hostile environment against the Aggies without their biggest offensive weapon, starting QB Chad Kelly. Kelly suffered a season-ending knee injury a week before and the question on everyone's mind heading into the matchup was whether Freeze would give his highly-touted true freshman QB a shot and remove his redshirt. Freeze did indeed give Patterson the green light. While Patterson put together some exciting plays in the first half, the Rebels couldn't seem to get in the end zone. Ole Miss was down 21-6 at halftime.

The third quarter was a huge turning point in the game because Ole Miss' defense stepped up and prevented Texas A&M from scoring. While the Rebels were still down by more than three touchdowns, preventing the Aggies from reaching the end zone gave the Rebels offense enough time to heat up. And, boy, did they. As the third quarter was dwindling down, Patterson lead Ole Miss 84 yards down the field in a 10-play drive to end the third quarter. The Rebels started the fourth quarter with a third-and-goal situation from the Texas A&M six yard line. The desperation to score a touchdown was at an all-time high, and Ole Miss needed to score here if they wanted any shot at a comeback.

Patterson took the snap on third down and quickly rolled to the right looking for redshirt freshman WR Van Jefferson. Not only was Jefferson covered, but an Aggie defender came at Patterson with full speed for what seemed to be a touchdown saving sack. But displaying the unparalleled athleticism that made him the No. 1 quarterback in the country coming out of high school, and without slowing down at all, Patterson eluded the sack and reversed to the left to buy him enough time to find a wide-open Damore'ea Stringfellow for a touchdown. It was, hands down, one of the most impressive individual efforts by an Ole Miss Rebel in some time. Playing in 'The House that Johnny Built,' Patterson looked just like former Aggie QB Johnny Manziel did in the two games he beat Ole Miss in Oxford. For a downright forgettable year, it was extremely satisfying to see.

Shea Patterson/Associated Press

That touchdown not only fired up every Rebel fan watching, but also the entire Ole Miss football team. Ole Miss' defense returned to the field after that touchdown and forced the Aggies to punt again and once again the Rebels scored. Despite a failed two-point conversion, Ole Miss was now only down 21-19. Texas A&M started smelling a comeback, so the Aggies put together another solid drive that ended in a touchdown to go back up by two scores. Ole Miss' offense returned to the field and ended a six-play drive with a deep-ball touchdown where Patterson placed the ball perfectly in the corner of the end zone for Jefferson.

Ole Miss was once again within reach of a comeback with the score now 28-26. The Rebels defense played lights out the remainder of the game (crazy, right?), forcing another punt which gave Patterson enough time to set up a Gary Wunderlich field goal that gave Ole Miss its first lead of the game. On the final drive of the game, Deontay Anderson came up big, sealing an Ole Miss victory with an interception. The game not only gave the Rebels hope for the remainder of the season, but also previewed what's to come at quarterback for Ole Miss in 2017. Unfortunately, we all know what came next against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. But Patterson displayed what the future could hold. Kelly was undeniably the best quarterback Ole Miss has seen since Eli Manning, but with the comeback win against Texas A&M, Patterson announced himself to the college football world, showing to Ole Miss faitful he has the chance to end up amongst the all-time greats to ever step foot in Oxford.

1. Ole Miss Wins The Sugar Bowl

Leave it to 2016 to have its best Ole Miss moment in month No. 1. Here's to 2017! Still, no moment was sweeter in 2016 than watching Ole Miss dominate Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl. In its first Sugar Bowl appearance since 1970, the Rebels put an old-fashioned beatdown on the Cowboys to win 48-20. The game saw Ole Miss amass 554 yards on offense, 375 of which came from Chad Kelly's combined passing and rushing efforts. Kelly finished the game completing 21 passes out of 33 attempts for 302 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 73 yards on 10 attempts. Three of those touchdowns were hauled in by Laquon Treadwell, who set a record for single-season touchdowns by a Rebel. The Sugar Bowl win was a perfect cap to a 2015 football season that was one of the best in recent program history. The win showed with solid recruiting Ole Miss can be a Top 10 program yearly and raised expectations for the Ole Miss football program under Hugh Freeze.


Bengals Insider Top Stories

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More Cal, on the Pavilion: “It’s already helped in recruiting. They got a kid from Oak Hill (Devontae Shuler) that we would have taken.”

\n— Ben Garrett (@SpiritBen) December 30, 2016
\n

Ole Miss even had a gift ready for Calipari after he made a joke about squirrels being in the visitor's locker room in the last matchup between the Wildcats and Rebels at Tad Smith Coliseum in 2013.

\n
\n

This was waiting for me when I arrived at the arena a few minutes ago. Happy to help. LOL. Beautiful arena. pic.twitter.com/nP1FgLwWzb

\n— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) December 29, 2016
\n

4. Ole Miss Well Represented in Rio Olympics

\n

\"\"Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
\n

Ole Miss had a total of nine representatives in the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Six former and current Rebels were a part of team USA including Raven Saunders, Gwen Berry, Sam Kendricks, Ricky Robertson, Brittney Reese and Ole Miss track & field head coach Connie Price-Smith, who served as head coach of the U.S. women’s track & field team. Former Ole Miss soccer standout Rafaelle Souza competed for her home country of Brazil, former Rebel basketball player Anthony Perez was a part of Venezuela's men's basketball team, while former Rebel track star Antwon Hicks was a part of the Nigerian men's track and field team. Reese received the silver medal for women's long jump, while Kendricks received a bronze for his efforts in men's pole vault.

\n

3. Ole Miss Football Signs Top Five Recruiting Class

\n

\"\"Sudu Upadhyay
\n

Ole Miss football was hot at the beginning of 2016. The Rebels ended the 2015 season with a 10-3 record, including a 48-20 Sugar Bowl win against Oklahoma State. Ole Miss took the momentum of the 2015 season into National Signing Day in February and hauled in the highest-ranked recruiting class in school history. Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze called the class the \"deepest\" since he took over the program in 2012. The class included a plethora of high-profile recruits, including top-ranked QB Shea Patterson, top-ranked OT Greg Little, Top 5 safety Deontay Anderson and Top 5 WR A.J. Brown. Brown's commitment was the most satisfying for many Ole Miss fans, as the Rebels plucked him out of in-state rival Mississippi State's backyard of Starkville, Miss. In total, Ole Miss' 2016 recruiting class featured two five-star, 15 four-star and eight three-star recruits. Seven of the Rebels' 26 signees were considered Top 100 recruits by Scout.

\n

2. Shea Patterson's Debut

\n

\n

The most memorable and exciting memory of a dreadful 2016 football season came on Nov. 12 in College Station, Texas, when Ole Miss upset then-No. 8-ranked Texas A&M, 29-28. The Rebels entered a hostile environment against the Aggies without their biggest offensive weapon, starting QB Chad Kelly. Kelly suffered a season-ending knee injury a week before and the question on everyone's mind heading into the matchup was whether Freeze would give his highly-touted true freshman QB a shot and remove his redshirt. Freeze did indeed give Patterson the green light. While Patterson put together some exciting plays in the first half, the Rebels couldn't seem to get in the end zone. Ole Miss was down 21-6 at halftime.

\n

The third quarter was a huge turning point in the game because Ole Miss' defense stepped up and prevented Texas A&M from scoring. While the Rebels were still down by more than three touchdowns, preventing the Aggies from reaching the end zone gave the Rebels offense enough time to heat up. And, boy, did they. As the third quarter was dwindling down, Patterson lead Ole Miss 84 yards down the field in a 10-play drive to end the third quarter. The Rebels started the fourth quarter with a third-and-goal situation from the Texas A&M six yard line. The desperation to score a touchdown was at an all-time high, and Ole Miss needed to score here if they wanted any shot at a comeback.

\n

Patterson took the snap on third down and quickly rolled to the right looking for redshirt freshman WR Van Jefferson. Not only was Jefferson covered, but an Aggie defender came at Patterson with full speed for what seemed to be a touchdown saving sack. But displaying the unparalleled athleticism that made him the No. 1 quarterback in the country coming out of high school, and without slowing down at all, Patterson eluded the sack and reversed to the left to buy him enough time to find a wide-open Damore'ea Stringfellow for a touchdown. It was, hands down, one of the most impressive individual efforts by an Ole Miss Rebel in some time. Playing in 'The House that Johnny Built,' Patterson looked just like former Aggie QB Johnny Manziel did in the two games he beat Ole Miss in Oxford. For a downright forgettable year, it was extremely satisfying to see.

\n

\"\"Shea Patterson/Associated Press
\n

That touchdown not only fired up every Rebel fan watching, but also the entire Ole Miss football team. Ole Miss' defense returned to the field after that touchdown and forced the Aggies to punt again and once again the Rebels scored. Despite a failed two-point conversion, Ole Miss was now only down 21-19. Texas A&M started smelling a comeback, so the Aggies put together another solid drive that ended in a touchdown to go back up by two scores. Ole Miss' offense returned to the field and ended a six-play drive with a deep-ball touchdown where Patterson placed the ball perfectly in the corner of the end zone for Jefferson.

\n

Ole Miss was once again within reach of a comeback with the score now 28-26. The Rebels defense played lights out the remainder of the game (crazy, right?), forcing another punt which gave Patterson enough time to set up a Gary Wunderlich field goal that gave Ole Miss its first lead of the game. On the final drive of the game, Deontay Anderson came up big, sealing an Ole Miss victory with an interception. The game not only gave the Rebels hope for the remainder of the season, but also previewed what's to come at quarterback for Ole Miss in 2017. Unfortunately, we all know what came next against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. But Patterson displayed what the future could hold. Kelly was undeniably the best quarterback Ole Miss has seen since Eli Manning, but with the comeback win against Texas A&M, Patterson announced himself to the college football world, showing to Ole Miss faitful he has the chance to end up amongst the all-time greats to ever step foot in Oxford.

\n

1. Ole Miss Wins The Sugar Bowl

\n

\n

Leave it to 2016 to have its best Ole Miss moment in month No. 1. Here's to 2017! Still, no moment was sweeter in 2016 than watching Ole Miss dominate Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl. In its first Sugar Bowl appearance since 1970, the Rebels put an old-fashioned beatdown on the Cowboys to win 48-20. The game saw Ole Miss amass 554 yards on offense, 375 of which came from Chad Kelly's combined passing and rushing efforts. Kelly finished the game completing 21 passes out of 33 attempts for 302 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 73 yards on 10 attempts. Three of those touchdowns were hauled in by Laquon Treadwell, who set a record for single-season touchdowns by a Rebel. The Sugar Bowl win was a perfect cap to a 2015 football season that was one of the best in recent program history. The win showed with solid recruiting Ole Miss can be a Top 10 program yearly and raised expectations for the Ole Miss football program under Hugh Freeze.

\n

\n

","mobileBody":"

10. WBB's Hot Start

\"\"Matt Insell/USA Today Images

Now in his fourth year at the helm of the Ole Miss women's basketball program, Matt Insell and the Rebel basketball team are putting in work this season. The Rebels are currently 11-2 entering a New Year's Day matchup against Arkansas to open SEC play. Led by sophomore Madinah Muhammad, junior Shandricka Sessom and senior Erica Sisk, Ole Miss has won five consecutive games, including 10 straight wins at the Pavilion. The Rebels are currently ranked No. 1 nationally for 3-point field goal percentage defense and are ranked Top 10 nationally in three different defensive categories. Ole Miss' biggest win of the season so far came on Dec. 14, when the Rebels put a 83-67 beatdown on Top 25-ranked Oregon.

9. J.B. Woodman's Stellar Season

\"\"Petre Thomas

J.B. Woodman concluded his Ole Miss baseball career in 2016 with his best season as a Rebel. Woodman finished with a .323 batting average and led Ole Miss with a .578 slugging percentage, 53 runs scored and 55 RBI. Woodman also blasted 14 home runs, which tied Florida's Peter Alonso for the most in the SEC on the year. While he was dominant as a hitter for the Rebels, Woodman increased his MLB Draft stock with his exceptional play in the outfield. Woodman ranked Top 3 in the country in outfield assists with nine in total, which was a league best. Seven of those assists occurred at the plate to prevent scores. For his efforts, Woodman was named a second-team All-American by Baseball America. MLB scouts took notice of Woodman's season, too, as he was drafted in the second round by the Toronto Blue Jays. With the selection, the Blue Jays made Woodman the highest Rebel chosen in the draft since Drew Pomeranz was taken in the first round by the Cleveland Indians in 2010.

8. Evan Engram's 2016 Campaign

[MEDIA:MzAsNDA1MjI4NjI]

Evan Engram returned to Ole Miss in 2016, with hopes of winning a SEC championship and increasing his NFL Draft stock. While Engram and the Rebels fell short of his first goal, Engram definitely achieved the latter. Engram put on one of the most impressive tight end showings in the country with 65 receptions for 926 yards and eight touchdowns. He was a matchup disaster for most opponents in 2016, and Engram finished the season statistically as Ole Miss' best receiver. He also concluded his stellar senior year as the SEC's leader in receiving yards. With his tremendous showing in 2016, Engram has set himself up to be selected early in the 2017 NFL Draft.

7. Ole Miss Makes NFL Draft History

\"\"USA TODAY Images

NFL Draft night was forgettable for Ole Miss in many respects, and Laremy Tunsil's words continue to hamstring Ole Miss in its dealing with the NCAA, whose four-year colonoscopy of the football program appears seemingly never-ending. But the night was still historic. Ole Miss saw five Rebels drafted, three of which were taken in the first round, a school record. Tunsil was taken No. 13 overall by the Miami Dolphins, Laquon Treadwell was selected 23rd by the Minnesota Vikings and Robert Nkemdiche was selected 29th by the Arizona Cardinals, which was the first time Ole Miss had more than two players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. The final day of the three-day event saw Fahn Cooper taken in the fifth round by the San Francisco 49ers and Cody Core snatched up in the sixth round by the Cincinnati Bengals. The five draft picks were the most for the Rebels since the draft moved to a seven-round format in 1994.

6. Ole Miss Baseball's No. 1 Recruiting Class

\"\"Josh McCoy

In 2016 Mike Bianco's baseball program hauled in the first No. 1-ranked class in any sport in Ole Miss history. Baseball America ranked the Rebels' 18-man recruiting class at No. 1 after Ole Miss signed seven high school All-Americans and one junior college All-American. Five members of the class were selected in the 2016 MLB Draft, but luckily for Bianco, all decided to come play baseball in Oxford instead. Key signees include catchers Thomas Dillard and Cooper Johnson, shortstop Grae Kessinger and pitchers Ryan Rolison, Will Ethridge, Brady Schnauel, Houston Roth and Jason Barber.

5. The Pavilion Opens Its Doors

\"\"Petre Thomas

Ole Miss opened the doors to its brand-new, $96.5-million-dollar, multi-purpose arena on Jan. 7 with a 74-66 win over Alabama. In front of a sold-out crowd of 9,500, Ole Miss ushered in a new era for basketball. Gone are the days of Tad Smith Coliseum, the an outdated arena and the laughing stock of the SEC . Ole Miss was known for years to bring recruits to campus and show them every inch of the university except for the \"Tad Pad.\" Since the Pavilion opened, Ole Miss has caught the eye of several high profile recruits, even picking up a commitment from four-star Oak Hill Academy guard Devontae Shuler. The new arena is second to none in terms of college basketball arenas across the country and has received glowing reviews from many who have visited. The most recent compliment came from Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

John Calipari, on The Pavilion: “The one thing you know about Ole Miss, when they do something, they do it right. I was like, 'Holy cow.'”

— Ben Garrett (@SpiritBen) December 30, 2016

More Cal, on the Pavilion: “It’s already helped in recruiting. They got a kid from Oak Hill (Devontae Shuler) that we would have taken.”

— Ben Garrett (@SpiritBen) December 30, 2016

Ole Miss even had a gift ready for Calipari after he made a joke about squirrels being in the visitor's locker room in the last matchup between the Wildcats and Rebels at Tad Smith Coliseum in 2013.

This was waiting for me when I arrived at the arena a few minutes ago. Happy to help. LOL. Beautiful arena. pic.twitter.com/nP1FgLwWzb

— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) December 29, 2016

4. Ole Miss Well Represented in Rio Olympics

\"\"Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss had a total of nine representatives in the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Six former and current Rebels were a part of team USA including Raven Saunders, Gwen Berry, Sam Kendricks, Ricky Robertson, Brittney Reese and Ole Miss track & field head coach Connie Price-Smith, who served as head coach of the U.S. women’s track & field team. Former Ole Miss soccer standout Rafaelle Souza competed for her home country of Brazil, former Rebel basketball player Anthony Perez was a part of Venezuela's men's basketball team, while former Rebel track star Antwon Hicks was a part of the Nigerian men's track and field team. Reese received the silver medal for women's long jump, while Kendricks received a bronze for his efforts in men's pole vault.

3. Ole Miss Football Signs Top Five Recruiting Class

\"\"Sudu Upadhyay

Ole Miss football was hot at the beginning of 2016. The Rebels ended the 2015 season with a 10-3 record, including a 48-20 Sugar Bowl win against Oklahoma State. Ole Miss took the momentum of the 2015 season into National Signing Day in February and hauled in the highest-ranked recruiting class in school history. Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze called the class the \"deepest\" since he took over the program in 2012. The class included a plethora of high-profile recruits, including top-ranked QB Shea Patterson, top-ranked OT Greg Little, Top 5 safety Deontay Anderson and Top 5 WR A.J. Brown. Brown's commitment was the most satisfying for many Ole Miss fans, as the Rebels plucked him out of in-state rival Mississippi State's backyard of Starkville, Miss. In total, Ole Miss' 2016 recruiting class featured two five-star, 15 four-star and eight three-star recruits. Seven of the Rebels' 26 signees were considered Top 100 recruits by Scout.

2. Shea Patterson's Debut

[MEDIA:MzAsNDA0NTg0MzE]

The most memorable and exciting memory of a dreadful 2016 football season came on Nov. 12 in College Station, Texas, when Ole Miss upset then-No. 8-ranked Texas A&M, 29-28. The Rebels entered a hostile environment against the Aggies without their biggest offensive weapon, starting QB Chad Kelly. Kelly suffered a season-ending knee injury a week before and the question on everyone's mind heading into the matchup was whether Freeze would give his highly-touted true freshman QB a shot and remove his redshirt. Freeze did indeed give Patterson the green light. While Patterson put together some exciting plays in the first half, the Rebels couldn't seem to get in the end zone. Ole Miss was down 21-6 at halftime.

The third quarter was a huge turning point in the game because Ole Miss' defense stepped up and prevented Texas A&M from scoring. While the Rebels were still down by more than three touchdowns, preventing the Aggies from reaching the end zone gave the Rebels offense enough time to heat up. And, boy, did they. As the third quarter was dwindling down, Patterson lead Ole Miss 84 yards down the field in a 10-play drive to end the third quarter. The Rebels started the fourth quarter with a third-and-goal situation from the Texas A&M six yard line. The desperation to score a touchdown was at an all-time high, and Ole Miss needed to score here if they wanted any shot at a comeback.

Patterson took the snap on third down and quickly rolled to the right looking for redshirt freshman WR Van Jefferson. Not only was Jefferson covered, but an Aggie defender came at Patterson with full speed for what seemed to be a touchdown saving sack. But displaying the unparalleled athleticism that made him the No. 1 quarterback in the country coming out of high school, and without slowing down at all, Patterson eluded the sack and reversed to the left to buy him enough time to find a wide-open Damore'ea Stringfellow for a touchdown. It was, hands down, one of the most impressive individual efforts by an Ole Miss Rebel in some time. Playing in 'The House that Johnny Built,' Patterson looked just like former Aggie QB Johnny Manziel did in the two games he beat Ole Miss in Oxford. For a downright forgettable year, it was extremely satisfying to see.

\"\"Shea Patterson/Associated Press

That touchdown not only fired up every Rebel fan watching, but also the entire Ole Miss football team. Ole Miss' defense returned to the field after that touchdown and forced the Aggies to punt again and once again the Rebels scored. Despite a failed two-point conversion, Ole Miss was now only down 21-19. Texas A&M started smelling a comeback, so the Aggies put together another solid drive that ended in a touchdown to go back up by two scores. Ole Miss' offense returned to the field and ended a six-play drive with a deep-ball touchdown where Patterson placed the ball perfectly in the corner of the end zone for Jefferson.

Ole Miss was once again within reach of a comeback with the score now 28-26. The Rebels defense played lights out the remainder of the game (crazy, right?), forcing another punt which gave Patterson enough time to set up a Gary Wunderlich field goal that gave Ole Miss its first lead of the game. On the final drive of the game, Deontay Anderson came up big, sealing an Ole Miss victory with an interception. The game not only gave the Rebels hope for the remainder of the season, but also previewed what's to come at quarterback for Ole Miss in 2017. Unfortunately, we all know what came next against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. But Patterson displayed what the future could hold. Kelly was undeniably the best quarterback Ole Miss has seen since Eli Manning, but with the comeback win against Texas A&M, Patterson announced himself to the college football world, showing to Ole Miss faitful he has the chance to end up amongst the all-time greats to ever step foot in Oxford.

1. Ole Miss Wins The Sugar Bowl

Leave it to 2016 to have its best Ole Miss moment in month No. 1. Here's to 2017! Still, no moment was sweeter in 2016 than watching Ole Miss dominate Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl. In its first Sugar Bowl appearance since 1970, the Rebels put an old-fashioned beatdown on the Cowboys to win 48-20. The game saw Ole Miss amass 554 yards on offense, 375 of which came from Chad Kelly's combined passing and rushing efforts. Kelly finished the game completing 21 passes out of 33 attempts for 302 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 73 yards on 10 attempts. Three of those touchdowns were hauled in by Laquon Treadwell, who set a record for single-season touchdowns by a Rebel. The Sugar Bowl win was a perfect cap to a 2015 football season that was one of the best in recent program history. The win showed with solid recruiting Ole Miss can be a Top 10 program yearly and raised expectations for the Ole Miss football program under Hugh Freeze.

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