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A Closer Look: Linebackers

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This is the seventh of a 10-part position-by-position series looking back at the 2017 season, as well as previewing what lies ahead for Ole Miss football in 2018.

Top Performer: DeMarquis Gates (112 tackles, 2 sacks, 10 TFL)

Returning in 2018: Willie Hibbler (Jr., 2L), Josh Clarke (Fr., RS), Donta Evans (So., 1L), Zikerrion Baker (Fr., RS), Brenden Williams (Jr., 1L), Detric Bing-Dukes (Sr., 3L), Mohamed Sanogo (So., 1L), Jack Raborn (Sr., 1L), Ryan Labanc (Fr., RS)

Newcomers in 2018: Vernon Dasher (Jr., Coffeyville, Kan.), Jaquez Jones (Fr., Tuscaloosa, Ala.), Jonathan Hess (Fr., Vestavia Hills, Ala.)

Losing from 2017 Team: DeMarquis Gates (Graduation), Tayler Polk (Graduation)

Looking back at 2017: The Rebels struggled to stop opponents from running the football with consistent success, especially early on in the season. When running backs got into the second level, it was off to the races a lot of times. That being said, they did improve throughout the season and were partially the reason why the Rebels were playing their best football at the end of the season.

The team did not have much depth or experience at this position outside of DeMarquis Gates, who was phenomenal in his final season. Gates led the team with 112 tackles and the next closest player was 55 tackles behind him. He played with two injured shoulders and flew all over the field. Gates' legacy at Ole Miss will eventually be one of the all-time greats to play linebacker and rightfully so. Walk-on Tayler Polk will also be remembered favorably for his play in the final games of his career. He led the team in tackles in two of the last three games. Polk, admittedly, was not the biggest or fastest player on the field, but played with a high motor, overcame some fairly steep odds and had a fine career.

That said being said, Ole Miss struggled at this position because of a lack-of-depth and experience.

Looking ahead to 2018: Ole Miss lost both starting linebackers from the 2017 squad and doesn't return a lot of experience in 2018. To his credit, Matt Luke addressed this the best way he could once he found out he got the job. He signed three linebackers in the early signing period.

There are some younger guys on this team that got some experience last year with Donta Evans being the first that comes to mind. Ole Miss desperately needs Detric Bing-Dukes to take on a greater role as a senior just as they need guys like Brenden Williams, Willie Hibbler and Mohamed Sanogo to develop quickly. It's hard to completely fix this position in one offseason, but Luke is doing all he can and has some interesting options going into the spring.

A Closer Look:
- Running Backs (Jan. 8)
- Quarterbacks (Jan. 9)
- Wide Receivers (Jan. 10)
- Tight Ends (Jan. 11)
- Offensive Line (Jan. 15)
- Defensive Line (Jan. 16)
- Linebackers (Jan. 17)
- Cornerbacks (Jan. 18)
- Safeties (Jan. 19)
- Special Teams (Jan. 22)

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    Tiffany J. Moore said:

    This is amazing with what he have done so far! Hope that he'll achieve more in the future!

    in post Evan Engram Hauls in Midseason Accolades

    Fiftyyears fan said:

    How can you have five straight top 25 recruiting classes and look as bad as Ole Miss has this year. Easy lack of coaching fundamentals. Look at Mason at Vandy, nothing but 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and he developers players that want to win. Hugh freeze has 3, 4 & 5 recruits and he expects them to win because of what they were in High School. Mr. Freeze you have not been teaching the fundamentals of football or winning in life. Mr. Freeze you have quit on your players because you have some false expectations of what they are instead of what you can develop in them. Either do your job or quit. Oh yea, please quit running your smoke and mirrors offense, everyone has figured it out. Run a physical offense that can open up holes for your running backs and then your pass attack want require 12 are 14 four and five star receivers. Mr. Freeze you have problems and you need to know that you are not smarter than the rest of the coaches in the SEC.

    in post Rebels Unable to Send Senior Class Out on a High Note

    Karen Holden said:

    Not every pass can be caught. Too low, too short whatever. Not every Kelly pass is perfect. Records were broken by receivers also. But they sre not going to catch every ball thrown. The loss to Auburn was not one players fault. You win or lose as a team.

    in post Late Mistake Spoils Chad Kelly's Historic Performance

    Trent browning said:

    Hey I was just wandering if these are the only 2 olemiss players signing. If there are more signing please respond to me ASAP. Also wondering if neil everett will sign any autographs. Thank you very much

    in post Heisman House Tour Heads to Oxford for Ole Miss-Georgia

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    in post Madden 17 Ratings for Former Rebels

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    in post Fast Runner From Down Under

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