2015 National Signing Day Position Preview: Offensive Line


We are just a week away from the 2015 National Signing Day, and the Ole Miss Rebels are in the making of signing an impressive recruiting class. Ole Hotty Toddy will break down each position for you and give insight on how these talented prospects will effect the upcoming seasons.

In this article we will take a look at the offensive line. First we will review what was seen from the linemen in the 2014 season, then we will look at who is currently committed in the 2015 recruiting class, and finally we will wrap things up with targets who may choose to become a Rebel.

Offensive Line (2014)

Ole Miss finished the 2014 season with a 9-4 record, and inside the top ten in the final College Football Playoff Rankings. However, possibly the biggest struggle as a whole was the offensive line. The Rebels allowed 31 sacks, and consistently struggled to open up lanes for the running backs, making it the biggest area of opportunity in recruiting.

If Ole Miss could line up Laremy Tunsil in five spots on the field, and two deep, there would be no worries. His talent is one-of-a-kind, and by the end of the season, he had only given up one sack. But, Tunsil is just one man, and can’t do it all by himself. We saw that continuously last season, and the results were costly. By the Arkansas game, Tunsil was heavily beat up due to extensive playing time. He suffered a mid-season bicep injury, and later a broken left leg in the 2015 Peach Bowl. The leg injury was very similar to Laquon Treadwell’s season ending injury against Auburn.

2014 four-star recruits Rod Taylor and Fahn Cooper saw a lot of playing time, but their inexperience cost yardage and allowed numerous sacks. Taylor’s consistency struggles had a lot to do with being rotated in different positions frequently due to lack of depth. However, now that Taylor and Cooper have experience, and will receive heavy training in the off-season, they are expected to improve in 2015.

Tunsil’s injuries weren’t the only ones suffered by the offensive line. Aaron Morris suffered the same knee injury that kept him out the entire 2013 season. The injury came before the Egg Bowl, and considering it was not a complete tear, Morris chose to give it a shot against the Bulldogs. He would sit out the 2014 Peach Bowl with a torn ACL. Morris is expected to return by fall camps on a fifth year eligibility. If he can recover from his injury and remain healthy Morris could be a valuable asset next season.

Sep 6, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Mississippi Rebels offensive lineman Rod Taylor (73) celebrates after a touchdown during the second half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at LP Field. Mississippi won 41-3. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Morris sat out the entire off-season due to injuries, and did not receive his transfer waiver to be eligible to play until week two of the season. All of these obstacles prevented Morris from being productive in 2014. However, Morris will have full spring and fall camps to look forward to and will be expected to make huge impacts next season.

The positive note is that all five starters will be returning next season. Besides Tunsil, Justin Bell made the most impact, and was easily adaptable into different positions. Backup Robert Conyers also had his shining moments, and will return next season.

Looking Ahead (Who’s committed?)

Hugh Freeze and his staff are very aware of their opportunities. They know that the o-line tops the list of importance, and that is why it has been their heaviest recruited area.

Two of Ole Miss’ biggest commits in the 2015 recruiting class is five-star offensive guard Javon Patterson and five-star offensive tackle Drew Richmond. The addition of these two would add much needed depth, and both have the potential to receive immediate playing time.

Patterson received his fifth star after a very impressive performance in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He is rated the No. 1 offensive guard in the country by 247Sports.com and the site also rates him the No. 1 overall player in the state of Mississippi. The Petal native stands in at 6ft. – 2in. and weighs in at 317 lbs. His attributes include impressive footwork, strength, and probably has the best pass blocking skills coming out of the 2015 class.

Jan 3, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; West running back Derrius Guice (20) is lifted by offensive lineman Javon Patterson (77) after scoring a touchdown against the East during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome. Guice was the game offensive MVP. West beat East 39-36. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Richmond is the model for an offensive tackle. His skill sets are all around excellent. The Memphis native is rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 7 offensive tackle in the country and No. 3 overall player in his state. He is 6ft. – 5in. and weighs 310 lbs., and would be an immediate player. However, due to his overall skill sets, Richmond is being heavily targeted by other schools, risking the chance of the Rebels landing him. Even though he is still officially committed to Ole Miss, Richmond plans to visit LSU before NSD, and reports indicate that he may skip NSD, and wait as late as April to make his decision.

Four-star offensive tackle Alex Givens committed to Ole Miss back in September, and clearly shows he is all Rebel. The Nashville native stands in at 6ft. – 6 in. and weighs in at 280 lbs. He chose Ole Miss before his official visit last Friday over offers from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Nebraska, Virginia, and Ohio State. Givens could easily build on his size in the off-season, which would make his excellent blocking skills more impressive.

Three-star offensive tackle Michael Howard made his commitment in early December, and like Givens, shows Ole Miss is his only interest. Howard comes from Green Cove Springs, Fla. and also received offers from Oregon, Florida, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. But, he was overlooked by many due to his size (248 lbs.). His hudl videos prove that with the right weight building program, Givens could be an asset in the future. He impressed me with how many holes he opened for the run game.

Looking Ahead (Who’s in the hunt?)

Like we said above, Freeze and his staff knew their needs is this year’s recruitment. The Rebels have made 41 offers to offensive linemen from the 2015 recruiting class, more than any other position.

Of the prospects who have not yet committed to a school, Ole Miss is clearly in the hunt of at least two of them, four-star offensive tackle Toby Weathersby and four-star offensive guard Kendrick Norton. Both have recently named Ole Miss in their final three.

Next: Ole Miss Gets Huge Results After Big Recruiting Weekend

Weathersby (6ft. -4in., 295 lbs.) is a native of Houston, Tx. and recently decommitted from Texas. This opened the door for Ole Miss to heavily pursue him. Weathersby has amazing size and frame. His run blocking skills is his key attribute. He just wrapped up his official visits with LSU and Arkansas (his other two top choices). The Rebels will have the final impression when Weathersby makes his official visit to Oxford on Jan. 30th.

Norton just wrapped up his official visit to Oxford during the big recruiting weekend. He stands in at 6ft. – 3in. and weighs 305 lbs. and hails from Jacksonville, Fla. According to 247Sports.com, Norton is rated the No. 18 offensive guard in the nation. He currently holds Miami and Auburn as his other two top choices.


There is no question that Ole Miss would add much needed depth with just the current four committed offensive linemen. Both Richmond and Patterson have the potential to receive immediate playing time. Don’t count on starting roles right off the bat against the more experienced front five, but these two could make a huge impact next season at backup roles. If Givens and Howard impress enough during early practices, Freeze could potentially redshirt them to help build their weight.

If the Rebels could possibly land either Weathersby or Norton on NSD, the investment in offensive line recruiting would be a huge pay off. Currently, Norton would be the heavy favor of the two. He was impressed from his official visit this past weekend, but Weathersby is yet to come to Oxford.

The last paragraph was proudly sponsored by The Network.