The history of the Ole Miss Rebels football program has seen more lows than highs in the past few decades. Since the SEC broke off into two divisions in 1992, the team has won only one co-divisional title and has yet to reach the SEC Championship Game.
The team has only appeared in three bowl games in the past nine seasons. To put that in perspective, over 60 teams per year make it to a bowl game. The Rebels have also not had a winning season in the SEC since beating the eventual national champion Florida Gators in 2008.
In his first year on the job last season, head coach Hugh Freeze led the team to its first winning season since 2009. The season included a bowl victory over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
In year two, Freeze hopes to add to the success.
Ole Miss already enters this fall season with a win of sorts. The team has a top-five recruiting class for the first time in ages. The class includes the top-ranked offensive tackle in Lake City native Laremy Tunsil, top-ranked defensive end Robert Nkedmdiche and scout.com five-star wide out Laquon Treadwell.
During spring workouts, the team has been without three key players. One of those players is starting quarterback Bo Wallace. He underwent offseason shoulder surgery, and Freeze said that the leader will be back to throwing in a matter of days.
Defensive end C.J. Johnson (broken fibula) and tight end Christian Morgan (torn meniscus) are still healing up, but the team believes all three players should be available at the start of the season.
With depletion at vital spots, the team hasn’t looked like a complete unit. Coach Freeze believes this is why his club has looked sloppy the last few weeks.
However, injuries shouldn’t stand in the way of a team that returns key contributors at key positions. Tailback Jeff Scott returns for his senior season in hopes that he can carry the load with his first thousand-yard campaign. Junior Donte Moncrief looks to add to his 2012 stats, when he led the team with 66 receptions for 979 yards and 10 TDs.
A few names stand out on defense. Defensive back Trae Elston is coming off an SEC All-Freshman team selection, and he was named the SEC’s hardest-hitting freshman by ESPN.com. Also, sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche (older brother of Robert Nkedmdiche) led the team in tackles with 82, and he should only improve in his second season.
The team opens the upcoming season on the road in the SEC as they take on Vanderbilt in late August.