Ole Miss Football: Transfer portal closes with Rebels in a good spot

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Ole Miss v Penn State
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Ole Miss v Penn State / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

The college football transfer portal closed on Saturday night, with Ole Miss sitting in the top three of the team transfer portal rankings. How is the team shaping up for heading into the off season?

Kiffin goes all-in on defensive commits

Making the Ole Miss defence a force was the main focus of Lane Kiffin and defensive coordinator Pete Golding during the first transfer portal. The Rebels picked up eight defensive commits, with the centrepiece being the commitment of DL Walter Nolen, the number one overall player from the portal.

The Rebels also added talented edge players Princely Umanmielen and Tyler Baron from rival SEC schools. The defensive front had productive DL returning for 2024 in JJ Pegues and Jared Ivey. However, adding these three game-changing players will make the Rebels a scary proposition for opponents.

In the secondary, Ole Miss lost players to the transfer portal and eligibility. Daijahn Anthony and Deantre Prince burnt their final year, while Isheem Young entered the transfer portal. Kiffin replaced the departed players with another bunch of talented DBs.

Transfer cornerbacks Decamerion Richardson and Tahveon Nicholson could easily be the starting CBs heading into spring ball. Kiffin also added three safeties in Key Lawrence, Louis Moore and Tamarion McDonald. However, McDonald has since flipped his commitment to Louisville.

The other defensive commit was one of the first players to head into Oxford via the portal. Chris Paul Jr is a tackling machine and the second-ranked LB in the portal via On3.

Strengthening the offensive line is underway

If you asked Rebels fans what position group needed strengthening first in the transfer portal, a high percentage would have said offensive line. Lane Kiffin is starting to set his focus on just that.

After an early commit from Southern Miss offensive lineman Gerquan Scott, Ole Miss got their second commitment earlier today. North Carolina OT transfer Diego Pounds confirmed he was transferring to the Rebels.

It doesn't look like the work has finished addressing the protection for QB Jaxson Dart in 2024. Ole Miss looks to be in for two other offensive linemen. One of Percy Lewis and Zalance Heard could be on the roster soon.

Shock loss at running back

One key loss for the Rebels was their first-choice running back, Quinshon Judkins. This was arguably the only big loss via the transfer portal for Ole Miss.

Ole Miss does have Ulysses Bentley IV and four-star 2023 recruit Kedrick Reescano available for next season. However, we will see if Lane Kiffin dips into the portal to add extra cover.

Two transfers add depth at wide receiver

Ole Miss had some great news in WRs Tre Harris and Jordan Watkins, confirming they would be back for the 2024 season. However, they did lose Dayton Wade to the NF Draft.

One of the WRs Kiffin secured a commitment from was a productive player from the SEC. South Carolina transfer Antwane "Juice" Wells Jr makes the WR room a special-looking unit. Add to that Devin Price from Florida Atlantic, alongside four-star JUCO commit Deion Smith and the second-year players, it's an exciting bunch.

Any other business?

As mentioned earlier, Ole Miss is working to get in more offensive linemen. Percy Lewis and Zalance Heard are amongst the targets for Kiffin. They also have an official visit planned from Tennessee offensive lineman Gerald Mincey.

Ole Miss has seen a couple of tight ends leave for the transfer portal. However, they do have Caden Prieskorn returning for 2024. The Rebels have another player scheduled for an official visit in TE Daequan Wright.

It's been a successful winter transfer portal for Ole Miss. However, the team is by no means complete. Lane Kiffin is still working to make this team a deep championship-winning roster.