University of Mississippi "Ole Miss" Rebels
Raleigh High School
While Moncrief did not have the junior campaign that he expected, the talented split end did capture the attention of his opponents on a weekly basis, as he was often double teamed. This allowed quarterback Bo Wallace to look for secondary targets like senior flanker Ja-Mes Logan and freshman sensation Laquon Treadwell, who occupied the slot receiver position, but is expected to take over Moncrief's "X' receiver duties next season.
Perhaps it was the emergence of a talented young receiving unit that might have been the reason Moncrief decided to leave school and enter the National Football League in 2014. More likely it was to take on a bigger challenge, for despite the elite defensive backfields in the Southeastern Conference, the Ole Miss split end has been a nightmare for any cornerback facing that incredible size/speed/strength mismatch that comes from covering No. 12 for 60 minutes each Saturday.
One look at game tape on Moncrief and you see a player with the big, strong-looking frame that has become increasingly popular in the NFL. Throw in his cat-like moves, blazing speed and outstanding leaping ability and you see what some scouts refer to as "the complete package."
It is rare to see a player of Moncrief's size explode off the line and instantly eat up the cushion. He is a definite threat stretching the field and he runs with the low pad level usually seen by only the smaller wideouts. His big-play ability is validated by the fact that 13 of his last 16 touchdown catches have been from distances of 20 yards or longer, including seven of at least 50 yards.
The big playmaker has also developed into a highly efficient cut blocker, utilizing his power much like a fullback or trap blocker when stalking second level defenders. He also demonstrates the loose hips and body control to sidestep and elude the jam at the line and precise cutting ability to create separation after the catch.
Moncrief also has great elevation going up for the ball in the crowd, combining good timing, superb leaping ability and a large wingspan (77 7/8 inches) to compete and win most just ball battles. At the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, his leaping skills were the talk of the wide receivers participating in the agility tests. His 39 1/2-inch vertical jump was not only third-best of all receivers, but ranked tenth among the 335-players in attendance.
Further impressive the teams viewing the tests, Moncrief produced a broad jump of 11'-0", the best for all receivers at the 2014 testing and the sixth-best for any receiver that attended a combine in the last decade. Just two other players among the entire group in Indianapolis in 2014 had a better performance in that test. With the time clock on him, Moncrief blazed to a 4.4-second timing in the 40-yard dash, third-best among the receivers and eighth-best at the 2014 affair.
Ole Miss recruiters knew what they wanted when they pursued Moncrief during his playing days at Raleigh High School, and they got it — the finest receiver in the state of Mississippi and an incredibly hard worker who would soon become the "face" of the Rebels football team.
At Raleigh High, Moncrief excelled in football, basketball and track. On the gridiron, he showed off his vast array of skills. During his senior season, the Super Prep and Prep Star All-American posted 21 catches for 441 yards and nine touchdowns. He also threw for 365 yards with two scores and gained 144 yards on 12 carries. On defense, he recorded 48 tackles with four stops behind the line of scrimmage and intercepted four passes. On special teams, he returned two punts for touchdowns.
Moncrief was rated the second-best player in the state by Super Prep and was listed seventh on the Clarion-Ledger's Top 10 Most Wanted list, along with being a member of the paper's Dandy Dozen squad. He closed out his career playing in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and the Bernard Blackwell Mississippi All-Star Classic as a senior. He was also named MVP of his basketball team and was a two-time Class 3A state champion in the long jump.
Moncrief wasted little time getting into the action at Ole Miss, as the Freshman All-American would start all but one of the 37 games that he wore a Rebels uniform. The freshman split end led the team with 31 receptions for 454 yards (14.65 ypc), scoring four times in 2011. His receiving figures were not only tops on the team, but second-best for any freshman in the Southeastern Conference ranks that campaign.
Moncrief was named Sophomore All-American and All-SEC second-team as a sophomore. He again paced the Rebels and ranked fifth in the league with 979 yards receiving, the second-highest total in school history. His 66 receptions also paced the squad, placing fourth on the Rebels annual record chart. His 10 touchdown catches tied the Ole Miss season record, with five of those six-pointers covering at least 50 yards.
Moncrief nursed a minor shoulder contusion that forced him to miss a few practices in 2013, but he still started every game. For the first time since he joined the program, he did not lead the team in receptions, finishing second with 59 grabs, which still rank fifth on the school annual record list. He did lead the team with 938 receiving yards, taking over the fourth spot in the team record book, and reached the end zone six times.
When Moncrief announced in early January that he was leaving school and entering the 2014 NFL Draft, it was not like he caught the coaches or teammates by surprise. Even before he arrived at fall camp for what would be his final season at Ole Miss, he indicated that the 2013 season could be his college "swan song." Moncrief didn't mince words when approached by the media at August camp about the possibility that he could be entering his final collegiate season.
"It's in the back of my mind, kind of. But right now, the main thing is getting my team some wins, just staying healthy, just staying focused. It's according to how the season goes," he said. "If I feel like it's a good time to come out, I'll come out. If not, I'll come back and be a Rebel and be ready to play another season."
Moncrief had added some size in the offseason (226 pounds) and figured to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in 2013 (fell 62 yards shy), given good health, in his second season working with quarterback Bo Wallace. Moncrief had spent the offseason working on improving his route-running to help develop a more complete skill set. While he did concede that a strong junior season might prompt an early declaration for the 2014 NFL Draft, he wasn't without a measure of humility.
"Right now I don't consider myself the best wide receiver in the SEC. There are a lot of things I can work on," he said. "There are a lot of great receivers out there. You've got Amari Cooper from Alabama, (Mike) Evans of Texas A&M who is a big-bodied receiver, and Jordan Matthews who just makes big plays and makes the plays when his team needs it."
On January 4th, 2014, Moncrief elected to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, the school announced. In his final game, he propelled Ole Miss to a 25-17 victory over Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl, setting up one touchdown drive with a 52-yard catch and finding the end zone himself with a 28-yarder, finishing with six receptions for 113 yards.
"After meeting with coach (Hugh) Freeze and looking at all available information, my family and I have decided that I will declare for the draft," Moncrief said. "I appreciate all the support I have received over the last three years from the fans, my coaches and teammates. I have had an awesome experience at Ole Miss and plan to support Rebel Nation until I die. At this time, I have to do what is best for my family and I, and I am ready to pursue my dream of playing in the NFL."
"I appreciate Donte's hard work, commitment and leadership for our program," Freeze said. "His outstanding play the last two seasons has been a big reason for the turnaround we have experienced and the two straight bowl victories. He is close to graduation, and I hope he reaches that goal. While we had hoped he might stay another year, we are excited about his future, and we look forward to seeing another
Moncrief started all but one of 37 games at Mississippi, as the split end hauled in 156 passes for 2,371 yards (15.20 ypc) and 20 touchdowns…Also recorded four tackles (3 solos).