Ole Miss begins spring football drills - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Ole Miss begins spring football drills

Source: Ole Miss Source: Ole Miss
Source: Ole Miss Source: Ole Miss
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
OXFORD, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Ole Miss officially opened 2018 spring football drills on Tuesday. Spring practice will culminate with the annual Grove Bowl on Saturday, April 7. Kickoff of the intrasquad scrimmage is set for 1 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPNU. 

Headed into the 2018 season, Ole Miss is looking to build off the momentum gained at the end of last season, winning three of its last four games including a 31-28 Egg Bowl win at No. 14 Mississippi State.

After having the interim title removed after the 2017 season, head coach Matt Luke and the Rebels return 56 lettermen, including eight starters from the offensive side of the ball and seven from the Landshark defense. That group will be joined by a top-25 recruiting class that Luke's staff inked in February.


    

Offensive coordinator Phil Longo returns for his second season spearheading the Ole Miss offense and has a bevy of weapons at his disposal. Junior All-American and Conerly Trophy winner A.J. Brown returns after setting the Rebel single-season record with 1,252 yards. DaMarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf join Brown to form one of the most explosive receiving corps in the country. The trio combined for 25 touchdowns last season.
    
Jordan Ta'amu will man the QB spot for the Rebels after starting the last five games behind center. Ta'amu completed over 66 percent of his passes and threw for 1,682 yards and 11 TDs, including three straight 365-plus yard performances to begin his Ole Miss career.

The Rebels also return four of five starters on the talented offensive line.
    
On the defensive side of the ball, Wesley McGriff and the Rebels will have some big shoes to fill with the loss of all-conference performers Marquis Haynes and Breeland Speaks. Haynes, Ole Miss' modern-era leader in both sacks and tackles for loss, graduated and Speaks decided to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. The duo combined to record 115 tackles and accounted for more than half of Ole Miss' 29 sacks.
    
Also gone is DeMarquis Gates, who led the Rebels in tackles for three straight seasons. Gates' 114 tackles in 2017 were the most by any Rebels defender since Patrick Willis recorded 137 in 2006.
    
Defensive tackles Josiah Coatney and Benito Jones, as well as defensive backs Zedrick Woods, Myles Hartsfield, Jaylon Jones and Ken Webster are all returning starters who will look to anchor the Rebel defense in 2018.

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