Although statistically one of the most prolific tight ends to ever put on the blue and red, Rufus French is often overlooked. But French was a key cog for Coach Tommy Tuberville and the Rebel machine from 1996-98. His presence helped end a five-year drought between bowl when the Rebels defeated Marshall in the Motor City Bowl in December of 1997.
French’s 6’4 245 pound frame made a perfect target for both Stewart Patridge and Romaro Miller. Both using him as weapon over the middle while have wide receivers Corey Peterson and Grant Heard on the outside.
During a time when the Rebels focus on their dominate ground game, French was able to put up outstanding numbers. For his three-year career, he caught 84 passes. And at the TE position racked up 814 yards and four touchdowns.
Fly War Eagle
His play on the field earned him second team All-American honors in 1997. But his worth became truly appreciate in ’98 as he was voted first team All-American by nearly every major sports media.
But what keeps his name from being higher on the list in our opinion, is that he played with Deuce McAllister. Deuce is hands down the best modern-era running back in Ole Miss Rebel history. Ole Miss’ all time leading rusher. When linebackers have to devote more time to prevent Deuce from getting loose, it leave working room for the tight end to get free.
This isn’t to suggest that French didn’t play a part in blocking for Deuce’s runs. But just look at film and you’ll see Deuce’s plowing through and outrunning defensive players.
But Rufus French’s contribution to the success of the Rebels shouldn’t be taken for granted. He earned the respect of those who played with him and those who had to line up against him.
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