'Very Real!' Ole Miss Rebels Named a College Football 'Offseason Winner' by On3

The Ole Miss Rebels continue to generate buzz thanks to the work they've done this offseason in the transfer portal and talent retention.
Ole Miss Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl vs. Penn State.
Ole Miss Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl vs. Penn State. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Ole Miss Rebels have their sights set on a College Football Playoff berth in 2024, and more and more media outlets are buying into the hype.

Recently, On3's J.D. Pickell released his "offseason winners" in college football, and the Rebels made the cut alongside the Ohio State Buckeyes, Miami Hurricanes and Oregon Ducks. Here's what Pickell had to say regarding Ole Miss:

"In terms of what they kept: Tre Harris, more-or-less a 1,000-yard receiver a year ago in the SEC. You kept your quarterback Jaxson 'Darty.' I know his name is Jaxson Dart, but we call him Jaxson Darty on this show. It's a party in Ole Miss during the day when they're playing. They re-upped with Lane Kiffin. I've said it many times: the fact that you kept Lane Kiffin in Oxford, I think is best for everyone involved. Lane Kiffin isn't for everybody, but he is for Ole Miss. Ole Miss champions Lane Kiffin, the way he does things."

Ole Miss Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin.
Ole Miss Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin. / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Pickell goes on to brag on Ole Miss' additions in the transfer portal, saying that the combination of wideouts Juice Wells and Tre Harris will be like "Batman and Superman" on the field. He also makes note of some of the bigger additions on defense, namely Walter Nolen and Princely Umanmielen along the defensive line.

"Ole Miss is very real when it comes to their aspirations to win the SEC," Pickell said. "There's a reason there's some extra buzz in Oxford. There's a reason there's a little bit of extra hype right now. Everyone sees what they have on paper right now, the way they've built this roster via the portal, and what they have. It's exciting."

This analysis lines up with what other outlets (including TheGroveReport.com) have highlighted this offseason regarding the Rebels. Ole Miss is coming off one of its best seasons in school history, reaching 11 wins for the first time as a program and knocking off Penn State in a New Year's Six bowl.

That momentum paired with the expansion of the College Football Playoff to 12 teams this season gives Ole Miss a golden shot to make the field and play for a national championship. The division model in the SEC is gone, and the SEC Championship Game doesn't play nearly as large a role now in determining who from the conference gets into the playoff.

Instead, the formula is this: win. That may be an oversimplification, but a 10- or 11-win Ole Miss team would very much be in the conversation for one of the playoff's 12 seeds this season, and with so much returning and incoming talent, another double-digit win campaign is not out of the question. In fact, it's likely the expectation.

The key now for the Rebels is remaining healthy. The talent is in place, but talent sidelined with injuries doesn't help you on this journey. That's likely a large reason that Ole Miss changed the format of its spring game this year, opting to go with the "Grove Bowl Games," a 7-on-7 and skill-based competition as opposed to a full-fledged scrimmage.

The Grove Bowl Games are set to begin on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and will be televised on SEC Network+.


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John Macon Gillespie

JOHN MACON GILLESPIE

John Macon Gillespie is the publisher of The Grove Report and has experience on the Ole Miss beat spanning five years.