Breaking Down the Surprise Starters for Ole Miss in Week One

Nate Gabler

Ole Miss football released their slate of starters for the 2020 season opener against Florida on Monday afternoon. 

Unsurprisingly, Lane Kiffin and Co. failed to list a starting quarterback, putting both Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee on the list as starters while elsewhere only naming nine other starters on offense.

While it's weird that within their 11 starters on offense came two quarterbacks (and no I do not expect Plumlee to be a full-time starting wide receiver) the rest of the offensive starters pretty much went to chalk.

(See here for the full list of starters)

Where some surprises came on the list of starters was on the defensive side of the ball. Here's a closer look at those four names that may have turned some heads to be Rebel starters for the 2020 season.

Buck: Tavius Robinson

Buck can almost be a synonym for EDGE in the Ole Miss defense. It's a hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker role. Well, one of those two spots is going to be filled by a transfer from Canada who showed up at Ole Miss this summer having never played a snap of NCAA football.

(More on Robinson: "Blessing in Disguise:" Tavius Robinson's Journey from Canadian Football to Ole Miss)

Robinson, a transfer granted immediate eligibility from Guelph University in Ontario, has the sort of size and speed measurables that you simply can't coach into a player. Sure, he's going to be incredibly raw, but at 6-foot-8 and running a 4.6 40-yard dash, you can live with a few mistakes for that sort of raw athleticism. 

Star: Daylen Gill

The star position in the Rebels defense will essentially operate as a juiced up nickel defensive back. At times, Gill will appear like a linebacker. At times, he'll appear like a normal slot corner and at others he'll appear like a strong safety. It's the most versatile position in the Ole Miss defense. 

Daylen Gill, like Robinson, has never appeared in a game as a Rebel. A unanimous three-star JUCO recruit in 2020 out of Jones College, Gill was recruited as an inside linebacker. 

"He's done really well this camp, probably as well as anyone who hasn't played before," Kiffin said of Gill. "He's making an impact in scrimmages and playing really well, so we're really excited about him."

Nose Tackle: KD Hill

I believe in very few certainties in life. One think I'm 1,000-percent certain of is you can't teach 320-pounds. At 6-foot-1 and 320, KD Hill is simply a bulldozer and there's no better place for a bowling ball than square in the middle of the defense. 

For anyone closely following camp, having KD Hill as a starter isn't all that big of a surprise. For anyone who's just a casual Rebel fan, you probably had no idea Hill, who's appeared in 13 games at Ole Miss after being part of the 2018 recruiting class, existed. Hill has only 4 total tackles in 13 games for Ole Miss, that said you don't ask a nose tackle to see the stat sheet that much – you ask them to eat blockers.

Corner: Jakorey Hawkins

A three-star recruit in the 2018 recruiting class for Ole Miss, Jakorey has seen very little time actually playing defense. Redshirting in 2018, Hawkins saw action in all 12 games one season ago. However, that 2019 action was almost entirely on special teams.

Now, Hawkins will be appearing opposite of Keidron Smith as a starter at corner. 

More From The Grove Report:

Ole Miss and Florida Preparing for Dual-Pregame Demonstration on Saturday

Position Previews: A Very Deep Ole Miss Receivers Room

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