Football is back in Mississippi as Ole Miss opens spring practice today.
After a rough 2018 season, the Rebels enter 2019 with two new coordinators and plenty of new faces on both sides of the ball with the loss of key players from last year’s team. Ahead of day one of spring practice, head coach Matt Luke met with the media as the Rebels enter a critical season.
“There’s a lot of new faces in the coaching staff, there’s a lot of new faces that will be on the field, but it’s exciting. It’s exciting to get a fresh start with installing a new offense and a new defense…There’s a lot of energy in the building, a lot of excitement and we’re ready to get started,” Luke said.
DC Mike MacIntyre was brought in to fix what was one of the nation’s worst defenses in 2018 after Wesley McGriff was let go, and OC Rich Rodriguez will bring his system to Oxford to attempt to bring consistency to the Rebel offense after Phil Longo left for UNC after the 2018 season.
On the field, the Rebels must replace their top-3 receivers with D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge all on their way to the NFL Combine this week. Sophomore Matt Corral will take over the starting QB job after backing up Jordan Ta’amu last season. On the offensive line, LT Greg Little, G Javon Patterson and C Sean Rawlings are gone and the Rebels will turn things over to a less experienced unit this season. In all, the Rebels will bring back just 3 starters from 2018 on offense.
There will be less turnover on defense with the unit returning 8 starters from 2018, but plenty of changes could be on the way and new faces will likely get a chance to make an immediate impact. Returning to provide a veteran presence will be defensive linemen Qaadir Sheppard, Benito Jones and several others, and after tearing his ACL early in 2018, the Rebels hope to see DB Jaylon Jones back soon.
With 11 early enrollees from the Rebels’ 2019 class, Luke also stated that he’s ready to see the young guys compete. The list of early enrollees can be seen below:
LB Ashanti Cistrunk
DE Sam Williams
WR Jadon Jackson
LB Eric Jeffries
S Jonathan Haynes
CB Jamar Richardson
QB Kinkead Dent
QB Grant Tisdale
Spring practice will culminate with the annual Grove Bowl on April 6th.