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11 Ole Miss football players given preseason honors

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Ole Miss wide receiver Tre Harris (left) and quarterback Jaxson Dart (right) were named to preseason All-SEC teams by college football analyst Phil Steele. (Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics)

College football will soon be underway in the Magnolia State and a handful of players representing one Mississippi university have been given high honors.

Ahead of what is expected to be one of the best, if not the best, football campaigns in Ole Miss history, 11 players have been tabbed as preseason All-Conference selections with three receiving preseason All-America honors by expert analyst Phil Steele.

Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin and company took to the transfer portal once again to land some of the hottest commodities in the sport. The new talent is brought in to pair with returning veterans as well as newcomers from the high school ranks in order to create a roster suited to compete in the inaugural expanded College Football Playoff.

Each player projected by Steele to have a positive impact on the field for Ole Miss originally suited up in another college’s uniform before making his way to Oxford. Earning preseason All-SEC titles are:

First-Team
  • Tre Harris (wide receiver) — The Louisiana Tech transfer made instant waves in Oxford, logging a program-best four touchdowns in his Rebel debut versus Mercer. Harris went on to log eight total scores and 985 yards in Ole Miss’s winningest season.
  • Caden Prieskorn (tight end) — After overcoming early injuries, the Memphis transfer proved to be a valuable asset for Kiffin, a coach notorious for maximizing the tight end position. Prieskorn recorded 449 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2023. He went on to be honored as an MVP of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl after the Rebels took down Penn State.
  • Walter Nolen (defensive tackle) — Arguably the most coveted player in the portal before finding a home in Oxford, Nolen has been given high praise ahead of his debut campaign at Ole Miss. Nolen, during his sophomore campaign at Texas A&M, had 37 tackles and four sacks before jumping ship to play under Ole Miss defensive coordinator Pete Golding.
Second-Team
  • Juice Wells (wide receiver) — The South Carolina transfer is expected to bounce back from an injury he suffered last year. In his four years with the Gamecocks, Wells tallied 2,818 total receiving yards and 28 touchdowns, making him a top priority for Kiffin in the portal.
  • Isaiah Hamilton (defensive back) — Another newcomer to the program via transfer, Hamilton was known as a physical corner with tremendous upside. Last season, he recorded 38 tackles, four interceptions, four pass deflections, and one forced fumble.
Third-Team
  • J.J. Pegues (defensive tackle) — The Oxford native and Auburn transfer has become one of the most valuable pieces of the Ole Miss defensive line. Last year, Pegues posted 42 total tackles and 3.5 sacks and was vital in plugging up holes in the interior.
  • Princely Umanmielen (defensive end) — A superbly athletic edge rusher comes to Ole Miss as one of Kiffin and Golding’s most crucial portal acquisitions, the Florida transfer is expected to blossom as a member of the Ole Miss defense. In 2023, Umanmielen logged 39 total tackles and seven sacks.
  • John Saunders (defensive back) — The Miami (Ohio) transfer was a top producer in the Rebels’ secondary last season, giving Saunders buzz as a potential target at the professional level. Nonetheless, the senior will be back in Oxford this year after tallying 39 tackles, four pass deflections, and three interceptions in the previous campaign.
Fourth-Team
  • Jaxson Dart (quarterback) — A veteran in Lane Kiffin’s dynamic offense that showed tremendous growth in his second year at Ole Miss, Dart heads into the fall as the possible X factor of a team with national championship potential. Last year, the signal-caller accounted for 3,364 yards in the air, 23 passing touchdowns, and just five interceptions. He also rushed for 391 yards and eight scores.
  • Chris Paul, Jr. (linebacker) — A valued SEC transfer out of Arkansas, Paul is set to make his mark in Oxford with experience in one of the toughest divisions in college football. During his sophomore year with the Razorbacks, Paul was responsible for 74 total tackles and two sacks.
  • Jordan Watkins (wide receiver) — The consistent player out of Louisville has proven to be one of the most reliable weapons in his past two seasons at Ole Miss. Watkins, a primary target in later downs, recorded 771 receiving yards and a trio of touchdowns.

Harris, Prieskorn, and Nolen were also featured on the more coveted preseason All-America list. The senior wide receiver was given Second-Team honors while the other two standouts were handed Third-Team accolades.

Ole Miss will begin the 2024 season versus Furman on August 31 at 6 p.m. central.

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