Ole Miss has produced quite a bit of wide receiver talent in recent years, most of it in the 2000s. Ten of the 11 players ranked in the top 10 in career receptions – Ja-Mes Logan and Mike Espy are tied in the 10th spot – played in the 2000s.
One of those is Shay Hodge (2006-2009) whose 173 catches puts him No. 4 on the list.
Now the head coach at Hillcrest Christian, Hodge spoke with me a few weeks ago about this year’s crop of Ole Miss receivers as the Rebels seek to rebuild after losing A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge.
Brown, in a three-year career, finished No. 3 in career receptions with 189. He has the school’s two highest single-season yardage totals with 1,320 last year and 1,252 in 2017.
The Shay Hodge interview originally appeared in the Daily Journal’s Ole Miss Facebook group. Go to the Journal’s Double Coverage Facebook page to join the Ole Miss group.
Parrish Alford: Shay, for starters, tell me a little bit about your team at Hillcrest. I believe this is your first season, right?
Shay Hodge: Parrish Alford yes this is my first season. Exciting times for me to stamp my program, my guys work extremely hard. We have a nice group at my school. Skill player wise we are golden, the big guys are coming along and hoping for me to come once school starts. Just exciting times to be a Cougar
Parrish Alford: Ole Miss is losing some very talented guys and is rebuiliding at wide receiver. What will be the biggest obstacles for young guys who will be counted on for key roles?
Shay Hodge: Parrish Alford getting game type reps and scenarios in practice. Nothing beats experience. You can do good in practice all day long, but until you’re in front of thousands catching them same passes it means nothing. Getting used to the moment and pressure is essential to their success. Learning the playbook inside out to maximize their usage. Making them versatile and easier to coach.
Parrish Alford: What's your take on Braylon Sanders and Elijah Moore, two of the Rebels' most experienced returning receivers?
Shay Hodge: Parrish Alford I’ve heard great things about Braylon like 2 years or a year and a half ago. His name was mentioned when we had the loaded receiver core of “should” be getting balls as well so that’s very encouraging. I haven’t had a chance to just study him yet.
Elijah Moore whewww this kid is a dude. Real boy dog, he’s trained by one of the IG WR trainers that does a good job with his guys. Quick, explosive, fast, twitchy, great hands, route savvy, like the kid just gets it. Expect a break out year for this guy barring injury. I’m very high on him, he puts the work in and it shows!
Parrish Alford: Did you have a chance to see Jerrion Ealy play at Jackson Prep, and what kind of transition do you think he makes as a freshman?
Shay Hodge: Parrish Alford I coached him in 7v7 over the past 2 summers. The kid is a boy dog!!! He has all the tools to be an impact freshman. His transition will be easy not bc of private school ball, but he’s been on the circuit since a freshman or so going against the best in the nation from camps to 7v7 games. In some of those tournaments with the rules you can run the ball. All you had to do was touch him with one hand and the kid would make the whole defense look silly not even being able to get a finger on him. That’s how special he is!!!
Parrish Alford: Shay, one more question, and thanks for checking in here today. Were you pushed out of bounds against Alabama in 2007, and do people ask you about that play very much?
Shay Hodge: Parrish Alford yes I was pushed out, came back in he caught it first, I took it so it was a legal play both ways.
Yes that’s brought up quite often! People that don’t know me will just come up to me saying that haha. I love it!!
Parrish Alford: Thanks again Shay, and good luck to you guys this season.
Shay Hodge: I’d like to comment on Jonathan Mingo & Dannis Jackson. I coached them as well in 7v7 the past 2 summers. They are special as well, do not be surprised to see what they do this season. I’m very high on them, their skill sets are phenomenal. 2 totally different players that really get it done! Boy dogs is what I call them haha in the coaching world. That freshman class will be exciting to watch as they develop over the years.
Shay Hodge: Parrish Alford Thanks my guy
Parrish Alford: Good stuff. I know people are looking at the wide receiver position as taking a big hit, and you don't subtract guys like Brown, Metcalf and Lodge and not feel it, but this is a group that will have playmakers. The guys you mentioned will have a chance to play, and I think Jadon Jackson, of Bentonville, Ark., has a chance to play as well. It was interesting to see Demarcus Gregory listed second on the depth chart. I've always thought he looked the part of a very physical receiver, but he's struggled to stay healthy.