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Ole Miss Football Futures, Roster Overview & Predictions

After an 8-4 regular season Ole Miss closed its season with a bowl loss to Texas Tech. Looking ahead to this season, sportsbooks seem to expect a similar outcome. FanDuel Sportsbook currently gives Ole Miss a 7.5-win total juiced to -142 on the over. With that said, let’s dive into Ole Miss football futures, predictions and roster overview.

Ole Miss Football Futures, Roster Overview & Predictions

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Ole Miss took home a small victory this offseason in retaining head coach Lane Kiffin after multiple reports linked him to the Auburn job. Kiffin brough back offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr. for his second season with the program after previously coaching with Kiffin at FAU and coordinating the USF offense in between. Last year, Ole Miss passed 39.1% of the time (122nd) and ran 78.8 plays per game (fifth). Ole Miss brought in Pete Golding to coordinate the defense after holding the same job at Alabama last year. That unit finished sixth, per PFF. This should put Ole Miss in a solid starting position on both sides of the ball.

Ole Miss Offense

Ole Miss should be set at quarterback this year despite a potential competition. It returns incumbent starter Jaxson Dart but also added premier transfer Spencer Sanders from Oklahoma State and depth option Walker Howard from LSU. Last year, Sanders completed 212 of 368 passes (57.6%) for 2,641 yards (7.2 yards per attempt), 17 touchdowns and nine interception in 2022. He finished as the 14th-graded passer in the Big 12, per PFF. However, he added another 391 yards and eight touchdowns as a rusher. Sanders ran for 668 yards in 2021, but he showed improvement as a passer in 2022. He has an elite dual-threat skillset and should be the favorite to start here. Dart completed 226 of 362 attempts (62.4%) for 2,971 yards (8.2 yards per attempt), 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also posted strong mobility, with 614 yards rushing, and he should not be counted out of this competition. He was the sixth-graded passer in the SEC, per PFF. Finally, Howard was a 4-star recruit from the 2022 cycle and the No. 91 player and No. 6 quarterback from that class. This quarterback room is deep and talented.

At running back, Ole Miss lost Zach Evans to the NFL Draft, but it returns SEC Freshman of the Year Quinshon Judkins. Judkins is 5-foot-11, 210 pounds and rushed 275 times for 1,567 yards and 16 touchdowns as a true freshman. He also caught 15 passes for another 132 yards. Judkins averaged 3.38 yards after contact and a missed tackle on 27.6% of his attempts. He was tied for first in rushing grade in the SEC, per PFF. Behind him, Ulysses Bentley returns after an injury-riddled 2022. Bentley is 5-foot-10, 184 pounds and only rushed 16 times last year due to injury. He previously played at SMU, where his best season came in 2020. He rushed 170 times for 913 yards in that season. Ole Miss also recruited 4-star freshman Kedrick Reescano, who is the eighth-ranked running back and 148th player in this class.

The receiving room could be the biggest question on this offense, with Malik Heath and Jonathan Mingo moving on. Ole Miss does return its third-leading receiver Jordan Watkins, who is 5-foot-11, 190 pounds. Watkins caught 40 passes for 449 yards and two touchdowns last year. He played in the slot 79.9% of the time, and his 1.21 yards per route ranked 53rd in the SEC. Ole Miss also returns fourth-leading receiver Dayton Wade. Wade is 5-foot-9, 175 pounds and caught 27 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns. He played in the slot 22% of the time, and his 1.36 yards per route ranked 44th in the SEC last year. Wade previously came over from Western Kentucky, and Watkins came from Louisville.

Like previous Ole Miss teams, the Rebels hit the portal hard again. It brought in Tre Harris from Louisiana Tech, and he is 6-foot-2, 204 pounds and caught 64 passes for 925 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. He played in the slot 12.5% of the time, and his 2.60 yards per route ranked eighth in CUSA last year. Unfortunately, the Rebels saw Shane Hooks decommit this spring, leaving them a little thin at the position. Ole Miss also added UTSA transfer Zakhari Franklin late in the process. Franklin stands 6-1, 185 pounds and caught93 balls for 1,128 yards and 15 scores last year. He played in the slot 16.9% of the time and his 2.06 yards per route ranked 19th in Conference USA. J.J. Henry, Qua Davis and Jalen Knox round out the depth pieces here. Knox is a name to monitor after he posted two seasons over 300 yards at Missouri in 2019 and 2020. A foot injury has derailed him since then. Ole Miss also recruited 4-star freshman Ayden Williams, who is the 88th player in this class. Due to a lack of depth, he could be asked to play right away. This unit lacks the experience of previous Ole Miss receiver rooms, but there is enough intrigue given the names on the roster.

Ole Miss may opt to use more tight end sets as well. The team returns Michael Trigg while adding Caden Prieskorn from Memphis this offseason. Prieskorn is 6-foot-6, 255 pounds and caught 48 passes for 602 yards and seven touchdowns last year. He played in the slot 30.7% of the time, and his 1.39 yards per route ranked 36th in the AAC. Prieskorn blocked on 45.4% of his 839 snaps. Trigg blocked on 56% of his 264 snaps, but he only played in seven games. He caught 17 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns, with 1.43 yards per route. Trigg transferred into the program from USC in 2022 as one of the highest-ranked transfers in the portal. With Prieskorn mirroring that situation this year, Ole Miss has a top-3 tight end room in the SEC.

On the offensive line, Ole Miss lost just one starter in left guard Nick Broeker. Left tackle Jayden Williams, center Caleb Warren, right guard Jeremy James and right tackle Micah Pettus all return. All four played at least 750 snaps last year, with decent success. This unit finished 70th in pass blocking but should see improvement due to all of the returning experience. To fill the left guard void, Kiffin brought in Quincy McGee from UAB. McGee played 844 snaps, mostly at right guard. Victor Curne also came over from Washington. He only played in three games last year, but he played 715 snaps in 2021. If neither works out, Eli Acker returns after 389 snaps last year at the guard position. Ultimately, this unit has seven players with legitimate college experience. This should give Kiffin options to find his best five as well as depth in the case of injury.

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Ole Miss Defense

On defense, Ole Miss ranked 42nd in 2022. This included the 65th-ranked run defense, 33rd-ranked pass rush and 31st-ranked pass coverage. Unfortunately, the Rebels lost most of their secondary and multiple starters in the front seven. With that said, Ole Miss brought in nine defensive transfers and three 4-star recruits to help fill the void.

Up front, Tavius Robinson and K.D. Hill departed, but Jared Ivey, Cedric Johnson and J.J. Pegues return at least 431 snaps at their respective positions. Former North Carolina State defensive tackle Joshua Harris and Georgia Tech defensive tackle Akelo Stone will bolster this unit. Seven-year veteran Isaac Ukwu also comes over from James Madison to give the edge unit some help.

At linebacker, Ole Miss returned two players with starting experience in Khari Coleman and Ashanti Cistrunk. However, Ole Miss still attacked the portal, bringing in Louisville’s Monty Montgomery and UCF’s Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste. Its highest recruit and 5-star prospect Suntarine Perkins also plays the position. He is the No. 14 player in the 2022 class.

In the secondary, Deantre Prince and Isheem Young return legitimate starting experience at corner and safety. Ladarius Tennison and Trey Washington bring over 475 snaps and 377 snaps at the positions as well. Prince only allowed a 42.3% completion percentage into his coverage, and Young allowed only 80 total receiving yards on 11 targets. Tennison allowed 147 yards on 25 targets, and Washington 88 on 15. While a small sample, all of these players showed flashes that can potentially be converted into full-time starting production. The final starter projects to be Georgia Tech transfer Zamari Walton. Walton has four years of starting experience and should be leaned on by this younger secondary. If any of this group struggles, Ole Miss has five other defensive back transfers in DeShawn Gaddie (North Texas), DaiJahn Anthony (Liberty), Jadon Canady (Tulane), Justin Hodges (UCF) and John Saunders (Miami Ohio) all ready to compete.

Ole Miss Schedule

Ole Miss enjoys the rigors that come with an SEC West schedule. The team travels to Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State within its division. Making matters worse, it plays at Georgia from SEC East. To counteract that brutal matchup, Ole Miss also finds a game against Vanderbilt on the schedule. As for non-conference, the Rebels draw Mercer, Tulane, Georgia Tech and Louisiana-Monroe. While it should be favored in every non-conference game, a road draw against Tulane presents a less-than-ideal situation.

Ole Miss should be favored in somewhere around half of its games this year. A few others will have point spreads within a score. It sits at +4500 to win the SEC, which ranks sixth among all teams in the conference. With the win total of 7.5 already juiced towards the over, Ole Miss is one of the more difficult teams to bet in the entire conference. The team has four gimme wins but nothing guaranteed the rest of the way. Honestly, if this line keeps moving, taking the under at plus money could be the best allocation of resources. For now, Ole Miss is a wait and see.

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