Position Previews: A Very Deep Ole Miss Receivers Room
Freedom. That's been the theme out of the Ole Miss wide receivers room throughout the 2020 offseason.
As a whole, it was tough to be a Rebel receiver in 2019. Last year, Ole Miss threw the football on only 38.7-percent of their plays, good for No. 117 in the nation out of 130 FBS programs. That's not fun for a guy who's job is to catch the football.
That should change this year. Lane Kiffin's FAU team in 2019 ranked No. 57 nationally in pass percentage and Jeff Lebby's UCF team ranked No. 72. Both are still run-first teams, but it's much, much closer to a 50/50 offense than what the Rebels ran one year ago.
The Rebel receivers need that balance. It's not like they got bored, but it's hard to consistently produce when, outside of top dog Elijah Moore, you only see one or two balls a game coming your way. Moore will still be the top dog in 2020, but you can expect a more balanced room.
Returning Starters: Elijah Moore (Jr.), Braylon Sanders (Sr.), Jonathan Mingo (So.), Dontario Drummond (Sr.)
Last season, Elijah Moore was the only player on the team who had more than 200 receiving yards. Moore led Ole Miss in receptions (67 – no one else topped 20), yards (850) and touchdowns (6) through the air one season ago. Moore is still going to be the focal point of the passing game and is seen as one of the nation's top slot receivers entering the year.
Braylon Sanders, struggling all throughout last season with a hamstring injury, claims to be fully healthy. Sanders led the team in yards per catch last year, despite missing time and never being 100-percent.
Mingo is the guy that every coach and every other player thinks has made a massive step forward this offseason. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, he started all 12 games last season as a true freshman but only caught 12 balls for 172 yards and one touchdown. Mingo's size and speed, combined with this year two leap will likely make him the No. 2 target behind Moore in the offense.
Drummond started nine games last year, his first as a Rebel out of East Mississippi Community College. Drummond left EMCC as their all-time leader in both receptions and yards. A year-two SEC jump for the 6-foot, 215-pounder from Laurel, Miss. could push him back into the starting lineup.
Retuning Contributors: Demarcus Gregory (RS So.), Dannis Jackson (So.) Tylan Knight (Jr.), Miles Battle (RS So.), Jadon Jackson (So.), Jordan Jernigan (RS Fr.)
Everyone in this group saw playing time last year but recorded one or less start. Ole Miss wants to play up to eight receivers a game, so everyone is going to play a needed role, even if none do step up and push themselves into the starting lineup.
Dannis Jackson very well may be the best Rebel deep threat on the roster. At the very least, he's going to see some snaps just to stretch the field with his nine route.
“I think my role is just to come in and make plays when they need me and if they need speed, things like that," Jackson said. “I think confidence, that’s all it was. Coming from high school, playing at a different level, it’s easier but everything speeds up and you just have to adjust. Some people take longer than others.”
Gregory is another guy from this grouping to keep an eye on. A four-star recruit in 2018, he played in ten games last season. And there's always Miles Battle, another redshirt sophomore four-star recruit in 2018 who's size at 6-foot-3 and 195-pounds always makes him an imposing presence.
Marc Britt arrived at Ole Miss as an "athlete," having played both receiver and defensive back in high school. Britt opened camp as a receiver and moved to corner mid-way through camp, so we're not going to consider him here.