HOOVER, Ala. • As Ole Miss prepares for its Aug. 1 start to camp all signees have reported, and no academic casualties are expected, Rebels coach Matt Luke said.
The Ole Miss class was ranked No. 22 in the country, No. 9 in the SEC according to the industry-generated 247Sports.com composite list.
The most anticipated signee is five-star running back Jerrion Ealy of Jackson Prep. Luke had to get past the Major League Baseball draft to know for sure that Ealy would join the Rebels.
“I think Jerrion loved Ole Miss, and he was one of our first commitments in this class. I think he wanted to be there. Obviously if there was an opportunity for him to take care of his family for the rest of his life he was going to take it, but fortunately it worked out for us,” Luke said.
None of the signees who did not enroll early for spring drills are a part of the official preseason depth chart. There’s a big plan for Ealy that involves a lot of different places in the offense.
“He can do so many different things. He can line up in the slot, he can line up in the backfield, he can catch balls out of the backfield, he can run speed sweeps. We look forward to finding ways to get him the ball in space.”
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, a redshirt freshman from Ventura, California, is this season’s youngest SEC Media Days participant.
The 41 other players in attendance are all juniors or seniors.
Luke called Corral into his office last Thursday and told him he’d be making the trip.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity for coach Luke to pick me and these other guys to represent the Ole Miss football program,” Corral said. “I was excited to hear it.”
He was joined by teammates Mohamed Sanogo, a junior inside linebacker, and Alex Givens, a senior offensive tackle.
Upon hearing the news Corral immediately went shopping.
“I had no suit. I had to go and get a suit right after that,” said Corral, who sported a blue suit with a white shirt and red tie.
At times last season after injuries set in Ole Miss was competing with scholarship players numbers in the 60s.
After signing day Luke was able to get his numbers up to 85. After some off-season shuffling that number is 84 right now.
Linebackers Kevontae Ruggs and Josh Clarke left the program, and Luke was able to put kicker Luke Logan and punter Mac Brown on scholarship.
Unsettled up front
Luke reiterated his stance that true freshmen offensive linemen – seven signees who were not around for spring drills – will have to play key roles.
The preseason depth chart lists Bryce Mathews at left tackle and Royce Newman at left guard, two juniors who have yet to start a game.
Luke praises Mathews and Newman for the effective play in the spring but made it clear nothing is settled as the Rebels look for new starters on the left side.
“With all these freshmen coming in this summer that weren’t there in the spring, I think there will be some competition there,” Luke said.
The Rebels’ most experienced lineman is Givens. He could end up on the left side depending on how the competition evolves.
The highest-rated offensive line signee is four-star tackle Darius Thomas of Jonesboro, Arkansas.
“There are still a few things we have to decide, and there’s going to be a lot of competition in fall camp,” Luke said.