Wide receiver is another position where depth was most discussed in the spring.
The starting trio can be pretty good, largely because they have one guy with star quality, Donte Moncrief.
Ja-Mes Logan and particularly Vince Sanders evolved into a very good supporting cast last year. Sanders had nice downfield catches against LSU and Mississippi State then a touchdown catch in the bowl game where he broke contact and got to the end zone.
Moncrief has tremendous big-play potential, but he needs to get open even when defenses are scheming against him and create those big plays more often. He had 10 touchdown catches last year, but half of them came in two games, LSU and MSU.
Behind the starters it’s shaky, and a talented group of freshmen will be expected to play early.
With Moncrief and Sanders out much of spring, it was good to see dependable hands from guys like Jordan Gallegos and Jordan Holder, but many of the April passes went to guys who won’t catch many balls this year.
There had been some talk about moving Cody Core to safety, but he remained at receiver in the spring. He did some good things but also talked to us about the competition he knows is coming when the freshmen get to campus.
On paper Laquon Treadwell (6-3, 199), the nation’s No. 1 WR prospect, looks like he can give the Rebels another big, physical receiver of the Moncrief mold after he adds a little weight to his frame.
Quincy Adeboyejo (6-3, 180), a four-star prospect, is another who could get in the mix quickly, and Hugh Freeze on Singning Day called Eupora’s Derrick Jones (6-2, 185) the sleeper of the recruiting class. Freeze came away from a Eupora basketball game very impressed with Jones’ athleticism.
Slot receiver was a problem for the Rebels last year until Logan settled in there near season’s end.
Collins Moore was the starter in August but separated his shoulder on the second day of practice and never fully recovered.
He was held out of contact in the spring, but he’s another guy with good hands and good route-running who can help with depth.
Korvic Neat had some nice catches from the slot a year ago but was kind of a feast or famine guy. He also missed some time in spring with injury but will be good to go in August.
Another name to watch is Quadarias Mireless, a juco transfer who went through spring drills. A slot guy, he was clearly feeling his way around then and should play at a much faster pace in August.
It’s true that depth was an issue in the spring, but that’s when you want it to be an issue.
There are pieces and parts to work with in August. You don’t want to be forced to count on freshmen, but that’s where Ole Miss is right now. When you count on freshmen you’re assuming an easy transition to the next level of football. Sometimes that works out, and sometimes it doesn’t, even for the most talented players.
Still, there’s a lot to like and reason to hope for a strong showing for Ole Miss wide receivers in 2013.