TUPELO Ole Miss coach Matt Luke will take a slow and easy approach with defensive back Jaylon Jones.

Jones was one of the Rebels’ top players when he tore up a knee in the season opener against Texas Tech last season.

The fact that Jones tore the meniscus in his knee along with his ACL has complicated his rehab. Even though defensive back Montrell Custis tore his ACL two weeks later, Custis is a little farther along in his recovery right now.

Both players are expected to be ready for August practice.

“He’s going to be doing the running and the lifting … the speed. He’s cleared for that,” Luke said Wednesday during a Rebel Road Trip stop. “It’s more of the straight-line stuff in the first summer term. We’re going to be careful about him cutting. In the second summer term we’ll ease him into change of direction stuff, but he will be full go.”

Jones, a junior from Allen, Texas, was a big part of special teams as well and had returned a kick 94 yards for a touchdown before his injury.

Shout-out to locals

As Luke was getting started with his part of the program he mentioned his two Tupelo signees, Tavario Standifer and Jordan Jernigan.

In the brief time he’s been at Ole Miss Standifer has met with both linebackers and defensive backs. Luke says he’s put on 25 pounds to get up to 225.

Jernigan, one of four receivers in the class, will report in late May for the first summer term.


As the Rebels have added two more linebackers on the field in the new 3-4 scheme, two guys who need to learn the system weren’t around.

True sophomore Kevontae’ Ruggs and third-year sophomore Josh Clarke were both suspended for the spring.

Ruggs and Clarke are two of Rebels’ fastest linebackers, and each has started a game.

Luke said the suspension is for “violation of team” rules. The two have had access to the academic resources and training room during their suspension. They will return for the first summer term if they are judged by Luke to be in good standing.

Coach Yo’s assist

Women’s basketball coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin is a native of the Bahamas, and men’s coach Kermit Davis said McPhee-McCuin was instrumental in his signing of Sammy Hunter, who he calls “one of the most talented guys I’ve ever signed as a Division I basketball coach.”

Hunter (6-9, 230) is the highest-rated player in the Bahamas, but he’s not the highest-rated player in the current signing class.

Antavion Collum (6-7, 215) of Olive Branch, and Austin Crowley of West Point, who signed Wednesday, are both rated higher on the 247Sports composite list.

Davis is very high on Hunter and believes he can also help in the post.

NBA draft guys

Ole Miss guards Breein Tyree and Devontae Shuler have both put their names in for the NBA draft. Davis is optimistic that both will return and that their intentions are to treat this experience as a fact-finding mission as Terence Davis did last year before returning for his senior season.

These situations are always fluid, Davis noted. “Nothing’s ever 1.000 percent.”

Most Improved

Luis Rodriguez spent most of his freshman season just outside the primary playing rotation.

When Davis needed to delve deeper into his bench, Rodriguez was usually the first man up. Now in the off-season it appears Rodriguez’ stock is rising.

“He’s probably the most improved player we’ve got since the season ended,” Davis said. “He’s been in the gym more than anybody we have. His body’s gotten a lot bigger. He kind of saw where he was, and he seems really driven.”

Rodriguez (6-6, 202) was the No. 189 player on the 2018 class according to the 247Sports composite list. He averaged 6.1 minutes in 25 appearances last season.

“Luis will sure be a factor if he keeps progressing like he has,” Davis said.

parrish.alford@journalinc.com Twitter: @parrishalford

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