The Ole Miss football roster is loaded for 2016. Here are three of the most unheralded Rebels that could propel the program towards history this December.
Entering the 2016 football season Rebel Nation can’t wait to see their favorite stars take the field. The national media has already begun to buzz about a potential Heisman campaign for Chad Kelly. There is excitement in the air for the potential of breakout seasons for players like Quincy Adeboyejo and DeMarquis Gates.
Additionally, there is interest in the potential impact that incoming freshmen Greg Little and A. J. Brown can have. Most expect those two to have an immediate impact of some sort.
However, consistently winning in the Southeastern Conference requires more than just the household names showing up on Saturdays. To stay relevant, to be competitive and to have a chance at success, everyone must come prepared each week. Every player on the team must do their part, no matter how small it may be.
The recent success of the Rebel program isn’t just due the five-stars who showed up on campus. Though the presence of Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil, helped to grow the Ole Miss brand, others worked just as hard to represent the program well.
The stats may not always show the worth of the supporting cast, their impact on the field is part of the total team effort that has led the team to victory after victory.
This season will be no different and against, the role players will have to again execute their jobs to have success this year.
So here are the three players I feel to be the most unheralded players that wear the Ole Miss uniform. In order for Hugh Freeze and company to win the SEC West and get to Atlanta for the first time in program history this December, these guys will have to have made their presence felt.
It’s easy to misplace this junior among the stable of fantastic talent at receiver. The Rebels receiver depth includes Adeboyejo, Damarkus Lodge, Damore’ea Stringfellow among others. Plus, from all reports Van Jefferson could just be the real deal. On top of that you add the presence of incoming freshmen Brown, Tre Nixon and DeKaylin Metcalf, the list is impressive.
However, Pack has been a steady and reliable receiver for the Rebs in his career. The 6’2 Purvis, Mississippi, native caught 31 passes last year for 380 yards and three touchdowns. His effort last season doubled his 2014 output. Though he has not been a primary target, he has always been more than capable when his number is been called. Even amongst this slew of receivers on the roster, I expect Pack will still find a way to be productive.
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A. J. Moore
A. J., as well as his twin brother C. J., are known to be entertaining off the field, and A. J. has shown that he can also be just as entertaining on the field. The junior showed growth between his freshman and his sophomore seasons. As a matter of fact, A. J. started two game last year while seeing playing time in all 13.
He appeared to be playing more comfortably, with more reaction and less thought, which allowed him to play faster and more aggressively. He recorded his first sack, led the team in fumble recoveries with two and forced two of his own. His infectous spirit keeps the defense pumped up and he has become a valuable player in the rotation of the defensive backs. We all should be looking forward to his next step in his maturation process. It is conceivable he could fill the emotional leadership void left behind by CJ Johnson.
The 6’3 255-pound senior from Trussville, Alabama, is sometimes forgotten by fans when naming off the intimidating list of Rebel Rushmen. That’s not important as John Youngblood’s teammates and coaches are aware of his importance to the team. So much so that he was named 2016 Chucky Mullins Courage Award recipient. He will wear the hallowed number 38 jersey, once donned by Mullins, in 2016.
If there is proof that numbers don’t tell the whole story, it is here with Youngblood. His 19 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss last season don’t began to demonstrate his value. Youngblood is known for his motor that never stops running.
Even with the talent we have had on the defensive line, Youngblood has manage to play every game, starting in two. He is overlooked because he doesn’t have the athleticism of Robert Nkemdiche or the raw speed of Marquis Haynes, but he has proved to be a player that can be counted on to give his all when his number is called.