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Time to Take a Stand

It's finally here...game week! It's been 242 days since the Ole Miss Rebels last took to the gridiron for a clash of the helmets. After a successful 2014 campaign in which Ole Miss knocked off a No. 1-ranked team for the first time in school history and earned a bid to a New Year's Six bowl, Coach Hugh Freeze and the Rebs got back to work in the spring and have continued to work hard throughout fall training camp. The 2015 Rebels are anxious to run out on Hollingsworth Field inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium this Saturday, the beginning of chapter four in the Freeze era.

"We are really, really excited to get it going, as I'm sure every team is," noted Coach Freeze. "We feel as though we have had a successful camp and now it is time to play."

The Rebels' fourth-year head coach fielded questions from the media on Monday, the first weekly press conference of the year
. The team's theme this year is "Take a Stand," and Freeze is optimistic that accountability from everyone will lead to a successful season.

"I like what I have seen in our attitude. I like the way we have taken care of business in fall camp - I just think when you talk about accountability, great teams understand that," said Freeze.

A veteran cast returns to help uphold that accountability. Three-year starting quarterback Bo Wallace is gone, but 18 starters are back, including seven from the nation's top scoring defense that limited opponents to 16.0 ppg last season. Five Rebels were named preseason first team All-Americans, while several others collected preseason All-SEC accolades. All five preseason All-Americans hail from the highly touted 2013 recruiting class and are now upperclassmen as juniors. One of those juniors Rebel Nation is excited to see return is wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. After suffering a gruesome leg injury against Auburn last season, Treadwell is healthy and ready to get back to action.

"I look forward to us throwing it to him for the first time, taking a hit, going to the ground and then bouncing back up and lining up for the next play," said Freeze. "I think that will bring a weird kind of smile to my face. I'll know that he's back."

The amount of talent returning is impressive, but there are also newcomers looking to make an instant impact. On offense, look for freshman Javon Patterson to start at left guard. On the other side of the ball, Tony Bridges has led the secondary in interceptions during fall camp. The JUCO transfer plans to fill the void left by All-American Senquez Golson, who is now a Pittsburgh Steeler.

Of course, the biggest question throughout the offseason has been who will replace Wallace at quarterback. The Ole Miss record holder in career total offense left some big shoes to fill, and three quarterbacks have been in competition for the job. Freeze announced today that JUCO transfer Chad Kelly will take the first snaps with the starters in practice and most likely lead the Rebel offense in its first series on Saturday. However, Kelly has not been named the official starter. Freeze expects both Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade to play Saturday, and he is confident with whoever is out there leading the way.

"It is a very close competition. I like all three. All three of them have different qualities that they bring," explained Freeze.

No matter who is at quarterback, the Rebels will be playing in front of a packed crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday. Season tickets were sold out for the third straight season with a record 52,375 tickets purchased, the most season tickets sold in school history. Increasing attendance at football games has become the new normal at Ole Miss.

It all begins on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT. From the players on the field to the fans in the stands, the Ole Miss family will come together as the 2015 football season kicks off against UT Martin.

Time to Take a Stand!

Only 50 days until The Grove is full, the constant shouts of "Hotty Toddy" are in the air, and football kicks off 100 years in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium! Looking forward to this upcoming college football season, seven Rebels were named to five different award watch lists last week. The honors continued this week with four national watch lists released to the public that featured Rebels making the cut.

Junior DB Tony Conner kicked off the week by being selected to the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List, an honor given to the best defensive back in college football. Starting in the Ole Miss secondary during his first two seasons as a Rebel, Conner recorded 135 tackles, 14 TFLs, two sacks and two interceptions. Along with his second team All-SEC accolades last year, the Batesville, Mississippi native has high expectations heading into 2015; he will be one of the leaders in the secondary after the unit lost Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt to graduation.

Ole Miss had Rebels on both sides of the ball named to the Lombardi Award Watch List on Tuesday. Juniors Robert Nkemdiche (DT) and Laremy Tunsil (OT), a pair of two-year starters, found themselves on the watch list. Already named preseason All-America by various media outlets along with being added to multiple watch lists, there is no doubt both Rebels will apply pressure on opposing linemen this season. Nkemdiche is on five watch lists to lead all Rebels.

He may be somewhat new to the position, but that didn't stop senior linebacker C.J. Johnson to being named to the Butkus Award Watch List for the nation's top linebacker. Johnson isn't entirely new to playing linebacker, taking snaps there as a freshman in 2011; however, he has spent the rest of his Ole Miss career at defensive end. Overall, the senior Rebel has 137 career tackles, including 24.0 for loss and 11.5 sacks, to be an anchor for the Landshark defense.

Closing out the watch lists, junior wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was selected to the Walter Camp Player of the Year Watch List today. Treadwell has received numerous preseason honors this summer, including the Maxwell Award watch list and All-America first team accolades from Athlon and Lindy's. After missing the final four games of the season due to injury, Treadwell has made progress throughout the spring and summer in hopes of returning to top form. Head Coach Hugh Freeze even spoke at SEC Media Days about Treadwell being ready to go for the fall, noting that he "feels more explosive."

Also with SEC Media Days finishing yesterday, six Rebels were named Preseason All-SEC by the media earlier today. Nkemdiche, Treadwell, Tunsil and tight end Evan Engram all made the first team. Conner was named to the second team, and sophomore Marquis Haynes was chosen on the third team. The entire release can be found here.

Below, you can find all of the Rebels that are featured on watch lists heading into the 2015 season.

Rebels on Watch Lists
- Tony Conner - Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Jim Thorpe Award
- Evan Engram - John Mackey Award
- Hugh Freeze - Dodd Trophy
- Will Gleeson - Ray Guy Award
- C.J. Johnson - Butkus Award
- Robert Nkemdiche - Outland Trophy, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy
- Laquon Treadwell - Maxwell Award
- Laremy Tunsil - Outland Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award
- Jaylen Walton - Paul Hornung Award

The Ole Miss football team also collected an ESPY this week, winning the Best Upset category at the annual sports awards show for the victory over Alabama last season. Senquez Golson and Bo Wallace were in attendance to accept the award on behalf of the Rebels. 


Along with head coach Hugh Freeze, three Rebels will represent Ole Miss at the annual SEC Football Media Days next week. Junior Evan Engram, just named to the John Mackey Award Watch List for college football's most outstanding tight end, will join seniors Mike Hilton and C.J. Johnson on the final day of the conference event Thursday, July 16.

The 2015 SEC Football Media Days will take place July 13-16 at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama. Ole Miss is paired with LSU and Georgia on the final day.

Engram, Hilton and Johnson are three Rebels that have been leaders of the football program; their leadership gave them the opportunity to represent Ole Miss in front of the national media.

In his career, Engram ranks top four in Ole Miss history in receptions (59), receiving yards (930) and receiving touchdowns (5) by a tight end. Aside from the Mackey Award Watch List, other preseason honors for him this summer include All-America first team (Phil Steele, Lindy's, The Kickoff, CFB Matrix) and second team (Sporting News, Athlon), as well as All-SEC first team (Phil Steele, CFB Matrix, Lindy's).

Hilton, who will wear the No. 38 jersey this season as the 2015 Chucky Mullins Courage Award recipient, has started at least one game at every defensive backfield position throughout his Rebel career. Last season, he led Ole Miss with 71 tackles and also tied for 10th in the SEC with three interceptions.

Johnson, one of the anchors of the Landshark D that led the nation in scoring defense, was a game captain for all 13 games during the 2014 campaign. He moved from defensive end to linebacker in the spring, but could still see reps at both positions this fall.

SEC Network will cover the event live throughout the week, and ESPN will be on site as well. Complete coverage can be found here.

For the entire SEC Football Media Days schedule, click here.

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Athlon Sports Names Nine Rebels Preseason All-SEC

Individual preseason accolades continue to pile up for the Ole Miss football team as college football magazines look toward the 2015 season.

Athlon Sports is the latest magazine to release its preseason all-conference teams, June 10; the magazine named nine Rebels All-SEC for the upcoming season.

Four Rebels earned first team accolades with a pair on each side of the football. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and tackle Laremy Tunsil represented Ole Miss on the first team offense, while safety Tony Conner and tackle Robert Nkemdiche were first team defensive honorees.

The complete list of Rebels on Athlon Sports' Preseason All-SEC teams can be found below. For the a list of previous preseason accolades by the 2015 Ole Miss Rebels, click here.

Athlon Sports All-SEC

1st team: Laquon Treadwell - WR
1st team: Laremy Tunsil - OL
1st team: Robert Nkemdiche - DT
1st team: Tony Conner - DB
2nd team: Evan Engram - TE
3rd team: Marquis Haynes - DE
3rd team: Mike Hilton - DB
4th team: Issac Gross - DT
4th team: Denzel Nkemdiche - LB

Ole Miss added to its already strong NFL presence with the selection of All-America cornerback Senquez Golson, who was drafted in the second round (56th overall selection) by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday night.

He became the second player drafted under head coach Hugh Freeze and the highest Ole Miss draft pick since Dexter McCluster was drafted in the second round (36th overall) by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010.

Golson, the Rebels' first consensus and unanimous All-American since 2008, led the SEC and finished second nationally with a school record-tying 10 interceptions. ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper called it one of the best picks of the first and second rounds. 

"That's one of the best picks of the second round," Kiper said. "Senquez Golson is an interception supreme. He had 16 career picks. He's a kid who's pound for pound one of the best football players in this draft. He has wide receiver hands. 

"This kid is a heck of a football player. He's spunky, he will hit you, and when there's an opportunity to get a turnover, he's not going to drop the football. He's going to come away with the interception and get you the turnover and get you possession of the football."

Kiper's colleague's, fellow ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Todd McShay, shared high praise for Golson.

"For a smaller corner, he will support the run," McShay said. "He's tough, he's physical, he's aggressive, he's everything you look for. You wish he was bigger and longer, but he plays to his potential and ability, and he's not afraid to mix it up."

Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake noted his "unusual ball skills" and toughness, among attributes that met the criteria to become a second-round pick.

"He is a ball-hawking type of corner," Lake said. "He has very good quickness, very good anticipation and awareness, and we are looking forward to having him in the building."

Looking ahead to tomorrow, fellow All-America defensive back Cody Prewitt, a projected third or fourth-round pick by NFL.com before the draft, is the fourth-best safety available, according to McShay, and the 10th-best safety available, according to Kiper.

Here's more on Golson:

Here's more draft analysis from NFL Media draft expert Mike Mayock, who rated Golson as the No. 8 cornerback and No. 62 overall prospect in the draft:

"Golson is a corner who is only 5-foot-8 and 176 pounds, but what separates him is his ball skills. He played minor league baseball. The question is, how much does size matter? Golson is one of the best pure zone corners I've seen." 

Here's what ESPN had to say about Golson on their draft tracker:

What he brings: He's a much better run defender than you'd expect given his small stature, and is fearless in attacking ball carriers. His cover skills are excellent, with his explosiveness and quickness, but he can get exposed by bigger receivers at times.

How he fits: The Steelers fill another big need on defense with Golson. After notching just 11 interceptions last season, they needed to find a playmaker in the back end. Golson, who has excellent anticipation skills and production (9 INTs in 2014), will help upgrade them in that department.

VIDEO: Steelers.com's highlight reel of Golson

VIDEO: ESPN's Path to the Draft with some of the top plays by Golson

Freeze Wins Long Drive Competition

Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze took home the long drive title at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge charity golf tournament Monday. 

He won the competition with a 287-yard drive, besting Arizona head football coach Rich Rodriguez, who finished in second place with a drive of 273.3 yards. With the win, Freeze received $5,000 to benefit the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson.

Freeze will team with Sean Tuohy and compete in the tournament round Tuesday. The duo and the 12 other university teams will play for a share of $500,000 in scholarships and charity, including a $125,000 first-place prize.

The tournament will be broadcast on ESPNU in August and December. Specific air dates will be announced this summer.

Check out the official release and photos, both courtesy the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl:


Hugh Freeze and Ross Bjork embarked on the Rebel Road Trip, the baseball team claimed their weekend series over Alabama that featured the largest crowd of the season and the football program's NFL presence is expected to grow with the NFL Draft next weekend. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Headlined by Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze and athletics director Ross Bjork headlined the fourth annual BancorpSouth Rebel Road Trip that featured 13 fan meetings over six days. Both Freeze and Bjork noted the same energy but a different belief and optimism than their first Rebel Road Trip together in 2012.

- Here's what Freeze had to say about his fourth Rebel Road Trip, speaking to reporters after the event: "I enjoy the meetings and seeing the Rebel people," Freeze said. "We ask them to come to our campus so much that the least we can do is to get out and be with them. The most difficult part for me is just being so out of touch with our players with exam time coming up and academic issues. It's just a long week, but it's so much fun being with the Rebel people and the passion that they have."

- And here's Bjork: "It's hard to believe, but it's still the same energy. What's been cool is that just about every place has been packed, really with the exception of one place, and the energy that's out there as far as away as Baton Rouge. Everybody's fired up about Ole Miss. That's what makes this worthwhile to do it. People get excited to see you. Winning makes people believe and gives them confidence and puts what we've been talking about into perspective that we can do it."

- Bjork, who recently agreed in principle to a contract extension that will keep him at Ole Miss through 2019, spoke about many of the same talking points on the tour in a question and answer earlier this month. In case you missed it, here's the State of the Program from April 14.

- The Ole Miss baseball team completed a 3-2 week, highlighted by a Saturday doubleheader sweep and home series win over Alabama, to improve to 23-22 overall and 10-11 in SEC play entering the final 11 games of the regular season, including weekend series at Missouri and then home series against Mississippi State and Texas A&M.

- Barring any rainouts, Ole Miss needs to go 6-5 over the final 11 games to finish two games over .500 and head to the SEC Tournament with a cushion. Ole Miss is currently tied with Auburn for eighth place in the SEC standings, 3.0 games ahead of Tennessee/Mississippi State, both at 7-14, for the 12th and final place in the SEC Tournament.

"You keep everything in perspective, and obviously today was disappointing," said Austin Knight after their loss Sunday. "But getting two of three and playing as well as we did Saturday was a good sign for us."

- On the mound, Brady Bramlett and Scott Weathersby combined for the Rebels' first shutout of the season, while Christian Trent also turned in a brilliant start to lift Ole Miss to a doubleheader sweep on Saturday. On the other side, head coach Mike Bianco said they will weigh other options for the third spot in the weekend rotation going forward.

- Interesting stat: In the Rebels' 4-0 shutout win over Alabama on Saturday night, Bramlett and Weatherby combined for 11 strikeouts compared to zero walks.

- As a team, Ole Miss swung it better this week, breaking double digits for runs in two of the five games and hitting at a .368 clip for the week, raising the team batting average 15 points to .262 for the season. Connor Cloyd tallied a multi-hit game in each of the five games, hitting .565 (13-for-23) with six runs scored and six RBI.

- Interesting stat II: After not hitting a home run in his first 183 career at-bats, Austin Knight hit home runs in back-to-back at-bats, the last at-bat of Saturday night's game and the first at-bat of Sunday afternoon's game.

- The Ole Miss men's and women's tennis teams will learn their NCAA Tournament destinations when the women's field is announced on Tuesday at 4 p.m., followed by the men's field at 4:30 p.m. 

- The men, ranked No. 13 in the nation, are in good position to host the NCAA first and second rounds. The women, ranked No. 20 in the nation, are likely on the road for the NCAA first and second rounds, but perhaps because of their higher ranking, they will avoid one of the higher national seeds in the field.

- Senior Nik Scholtz, already the first Rebel to be named SEC Freshman and Player of the Year in a career, made some more history this past week. He was named to the All-SEC first team, becoming the first Rebel to be named to the All-SEC first team all four years.

- With three wins, two over Alcorn State and another over South Carolina, the Ole Miss softball team is one win shy of the most in school history, set during the 2005 season. The Rebels have four regular season games remaining, a midweek game at Mississippi Valley State and then a three-game series at Texas A&M, before starting play in the Southeastern Conference.

- Looking ahead to the 2015 football season, Freeze also spoke to reporters about the offseason strength and conditioning program for his team, headed by head football strength and conditioning coach Paul Jackson: "He'll have them ready. I have great trust in Paul and his staff, and he knows what he has to done for them to get into fall camp ready to roll."

- Also, in case you missed it, check out the Ole Miss football season tickets promo. Great work from Ole Miss Sports Productions.

- The Ole Miss football program is expected to add to its NFL presence with the 2015 NFL Draft next weekend, held Thursday through Saturday in Chicago and televised on ESPN and NFL Network. Cody Prewitt (No. 4 free safety, No. 124 overall player) and Senquez Golson (No. 16 cornerback, No. 129 overall players) are both projected fourth-round picks according to CBS Sports' latest NFL Draft prospect rankings

- Prewitt and Golson would become the second and third players drafted during the Hugh Freeze era, joining Donte Moncrief, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of last year's NFL Draft.

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Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze will team with former All-SEC basketball player Sean Tuohy to represent the Rebels for the fourth straight year and compete for a share of the $520,000 total purse in the ninth annual Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge charity golf tournament April 26-28.

The nation's premier head coach and celebrity golf event will be held April 26-28 at the Reynolds Plantation resort on Lake Oconee outside Atlanta. Over the past eight years, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge has provided $4.7 million in scholarship and charitable contributions.

Freeze and Tuohy finished 7-under par for fifth place last year, their best finish in three years of competition at the event. In their three years of competition, Freeze and Tuohy have combined to earn $85,000 in scholarship funds for Ole Miss. Team Ole Miss has appeared in the Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge charity golf tournament every year since 2009, earning a cumulative $147,500 in scholarship funds for the Rebels. 

The Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge main event features pairings that include a university head coach and a celebrity or former athlete from the same school competing in a two-man scramble over 18 hotels. The tournament will be broadcast on ESPNU in August and December. Specific air dates will be announced this summer.

The 13 university teams will be vying for the $125,000 first-place prize, with all teams receiving a portion of the $520,000 scholarship purse. Freeze and Tuohy are paired with the N.C. State team of Dave Doeren and Terry Harvey in Group Five.

The field of competitors for the featured event is scheduled to include: 

Alabama: Nick Saban, Mark Ingram

Arizona: Rich Rodriguez, Kenny Lofton

Auburn: Gus Malzahn, Bo Jackson 

Cincinnati: Tommy Tuberville, Kevin Huber

Clemson: Dabo Swinney, Steve Fuller

Georgia Tech: Paul Johnson, Jon Barry (2011, 2012, 2014 winners)

Maryland: Randy Edsall, Scott McBrien

Mississippi State: Dan Mullen, Fred McCrary 

North Carolina: Larry Fedora, Roy Williams 

NC State: Dave Doeren, Terry Harvey

Ohio State: Urban Meyer, Jeff Logan

Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze, Sean Tuohy 

South Carolina: Steve Spurrier, Sterling Sharpe (2008, 2009 winners)

For a full list of pairings and more information on the event, visit Chick-fil-APeachBowlChallenge.com.

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review

April 7-13, 2015


- Ole Miss finished the week with a 2-2 mark to remain a .500 overall record for the season (18-18) as well as 7-8 in SEC play. After dropping a midweek game to Southern Miss in Pearl, Miss., the Rebels bounced back to claim a SEC road series over No. 1 Vanderbilt. Ole Miss dropped the first game before taking the final two games from the top-ranked Commodores. 

- Against Southern Miss, Connor Cloyd batted in the leadoff spot for the first time in his Ole Miss career, going 3-for-5 with two runs for a new career high in hits. Sophomore Colby Bortles added a pair of hits and two RBI, while senior Sikes Orvis drove in his team-leading 28th and 29th runs of the season with his eighth double of the 2015 campaign. 

- Bortles continued his hot hitting into the weekend. With Ole Miss trailing by four in the top of the ninth on Friday night, Bortles tied the game by belting the second grand slam of his career. The third baseman was also the last Rebel to hit a grand slam before tonight, going deep against Arkansas State, May 13, 2014. 

- After Ole Miss tied the game in the ninth, a two-out double by Henri Lartigue in the top of the 16th brought in the game-winning run. 

- The bullpen trio of Jacob Waguespack, Wyatt Short and Scott Weathersby combined to pitch 11 shutout innings. Add in starter Brady Bramlett, and the Ole Miss pitching staff kept the No. 1 team in the country off the scoreboard for 14 of the 16 innings. 

- Waguespack pitched three scoreless innings before Short added a pair of shutdown innings. 

- Weathersby was named SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week, the conference office announced Monday. Weathersby finished the game by lasting a career-long six innings and striking out a career-high 10 hitters. Weathersby retired 18 of the 21 batters he faced, including getting out of a bases-loaded jam with nobody out in the bottom of the 11th. 

- The 16-inning game was the second extra-inning game of the year for Ole Miss. The Rebels defeated then-No. 1 LSU in 14 innings earlier this season, rallying to tie the game in the ninth inning of that contest as well. The two games mark the first time in Ole Miss history that the Diamond Rebels have played two 14-plus inning games in one season. The 16-inning game also was the third-longest in program history. 

- One night after rallying behind four runs in the ninth and coming back to win a 16-inning thriller, the Ole Miss baseball team maintained the momentum by taking down No. 1 Vanderbilt for the second-straight game, 5-4, to claim a big SEC series on the road. With a victory over the Commodores, the Rebels improved to an impressive 5-4 against No. 1 teams in 2015. 

- Sophomore Errol Robinson provided the game-winning hit, a 2-RBI bases-loaded single in the top of the seventh, and the Ole Miss bullpen kept the Commodores off the board for the second-consecutive contest. 

- Senior Sam Smith came out of the bullpen to pitch two scoreless innings of relief, and Waguespack closed out the ninth to earn his first career save. For the entire series, the Rebels' bullpen did not allow a run to score in 15.2 innings of work. 

- Nine different Rebels recorded base hits throughout the afternoon as the team tallied 10 of them. Senior Austin Knight went 2-for-3 and added a walk to reach base three times. Holt Perdzock had a RBI double in his only plate appearance, and Cameron Dishon knocked in a run as well. 

- In his fourth career start, facing a No. 1 team for the second time in his career, freshman Will Stokes put together a career outing. The right-hander went a career-long six innings, surrendering four runs on seven hits to earn the first victory of his young Ole Miss career. 

- Ole Miss has won two-of-three series against No. 1 teams this season (Florida, Vanderbilt).


- In front of a crowd of approximately 15,000 fans, Ole Miss closed out spring practice with the annual Regions Bank Grove Bowl on Saturday. The Blue team defeated the Red team 17-7, behind a pair of long touchdown passes, one by junior quarterback Chad Kelly and another by senior running back Jaylen Walton on a halfback pass.

- Kelly finished 9-of-19 for 104 yards with a touchdown and an interception. DeVante Kincade was 9-of-18 for 93 yards and also led the Blue team with 50 rushing yards on 10 carries, while Ryan Buchanan was 5-of-16 for 49 yards with an interception.

- Jordan Wilkins led all players with 62 rushing yards on six carries, while Eugene Brazley rushed for 44 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown.

- Damore'ea Stringfellow led all receivers with three catches for 98 yards and a TD, while Derrick Jones was the Red team's top receiver with three catches for 35 yards.

- Defensively, Fadol Brown, Issac Gross and Channing Ward led all players with 2.0 tackles for loss apiece, while both of Gross' TFLs were sacks. Cornerback Kendarius Webster finished with three pass break-ups, and linebackers DeMarquis Gates and Terry Caldwell totaled five tackles each.

Women's Tennis

- No. 25 Ole Miss won twice this past week, shutting out Arkansas-Pine Bluff 6-0 and then rallying to top Mississippi State 4-3. The Rebels earned the No. 9 seed in the SEC Championship and will face the No. 8 seed, Kentucky, in the second round Friday at 9 a.m. CT.

- The Rebels have now won 26 straight against Mississippi State.

- Sophomore Zalina Khairudinova clinched the win, rallying from an 0-3 deficit in the final set.  It marked the SEC match for her to clinch this year, as she also clinched the 4-3 win over Auburn.

- Senior Julia Jones became the seventh member of the 100-club, winning her 100th match against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  At 27-7 this year, she needs three wins to become the 10th player to record 30 in a season.

- The Rebels finished the regular season 8-3 at home.

Men's Tennis

- No. 14 Ole Miss split its last regular season matches, defeating South Carolina 4-2 in Columbia, before falling to No. 8 Georgia 4-0 in Athens.  The Rebels earned the No. 4 seed in the SEC Championship and will face the winner of the No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 12 Auburn/No. 13 Arkansas winner in the quarterfinals Friday at 4 p.m.

- This marks the 17th time for the Rebels to finish in the top third of the SEC and receive a first round bye in the tournament.

- The Rebels defeated South Carolina for the second time this season after dropping the doubles point.  It marked the second SEC opponent the Rebels have beaten twice this year, including Florida.

- Junior Stefan Lindmark became the fifth player in program history to go undefeated in the SEC at 8-0.  He owns a 12-3 record at No. 2 singles and has won six in a row. His win at South Carolina was also his 20th of the year.

- Senior Nik Scholtz clinched the win over South Carolina, his fourth clinch in the SEC and second on the road.

- In the latest ITA Attendance Race Standings, the Rebels are ranked fourth in average attendance (290) for the season. They finished the month of March third in total attendance and second in average attendance (336).

Track & Field

- Ole Miss had a very productive Friday in Starkville at the 2015 Border Clash, as Rebel athletes claimed four event titles, produced 11 new marks that rank top 10 in school history, and had six results that moved them into the top 40 nationally this season.

- The Border Clash, which pitted four schools from Mississippi against four schools from Alabama, saw the Mississippi men prevail 98-93 and the Alabama women win 108-61.

- For the men, Jalen Miller won the 100m (10.34), Robert Semien won the 110m hurdles (13.98) and Dempsey McGuigan claimed the hammer throw title (210-1).

- Craig Engels and Holland Sherrer went 2-3 in the 800m with times of 1:48.27 and 1:48.63 that rank them top six in school history and top 30 in the nation this year.

- The women were led once again by the quartet of Nicole Henderson, Shannon Ray, Khadijah Suleman and Jhorden Hunter, who won the 4x100m relay in 44.55 that ranks them third in school history and No. 8 in the NCAA this year.

- Racquel Moses was runner-up in the 400m hurdles (59.55) and Britt Ummels was runner-up in the 1500m (4:28.61).

- Ole Miss men who rank top 50 in the NCAA are Phillip Young in the triple jump (12th, 52-2.75), Miller in the 100m (17th, 10.34), McGuigan in the hammer (17th, 212-7), Engels in the 800m (19th, 1:48.27), Sherrer in the 800m (26th, 1:48.63), Semien in the 110m hurdles (28th, 13.98), Trevor Gilley in the 1500m (41st, 3:56.60), Adam Aguirre in the high jump (45th, 6-10.75), Branden Greene in the high jump (45th, 6-10.75) and Nathan Loe in the hammer (46th, 202-3).

- Ole Miss women who rank top 50 in the NCAA are Ray in the 100m (8th, 11.41), the 4x100m relay (8th, 44.55), Kierra White in the long jump (30th, 20-1), Hunter in the 100m (36th, 11.58), Moses in the 400m hurdles (37th, 59.55) and Fabia McDonald in the long jump (47th, 19-8.25).


- The Rebels continue to show improvement in the first year under the direction of head coach Mike Smith, improving in the win column and in statistical categories upon recent previous seasons. 

- The Rebels have 35 home runs on the season after hitting only 31 home runs a year ago. Freshman 1B Alex Schneider leads the Rebels with eight home runs on the year, while 10 different players have home runs - including eight with multiple home runs. 

- Ole Miss has also successfully stolen 76 bases on the year after only attempting 60 steals in 2014. 

- The Rebels hit the 23-win mark last week, defeating Samford in a midweek contest to pass the win total from a year ago and with five wins in SEC play surpassed the win total from last season as well. It also is one win away from totaling the number of SEC wins over the previous two seasons combined by the Rebels.

At one point, co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner said, all three quarterbacks had completed around 66 percent of their passes, a testament to how close the competition has been this spring. Going into the Grove Bowl, Freeze said one had a slight lead, but even that might have changed after the game itself Saturday.

"After one drill I'd like that one, after the next drill I'd like that one," Freeze said. "So, I go back and forth. In the totality of spring, going back before today, I would say that Ryan Buchanan had a lead in my mind. That certainly doesn't mean that he is going to be the starter. After today I will go back and watch the film and put it with our cumulative stats and everything else that we are judging on them. We will see where it is after today. 

"Again, even if we say that he has the lead, it is so minute and so small and so far from being over. That is everything being transparent and that is how I felt today. I might feel differently come Monday. I will watch the film this weekend and we will see." 

Junior quarterback Chad Kelly had the best statistical day of the group, completing 9-of-19 passes for 104 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Sophomore quarterback DeVante Kincade was 9-of-18 for 93 yards and also rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries, while fellow sophomore quarterback Ryan Buchanan was 5-of-16 for 49 yards with an interception.

"I feel like I really improved since the start of camp," Buchanan said. "Like I have said from the beginning, being behind Bo, you don't get as many of the first-team reps and don't go against the first-team defense. This spring, we had a chance to do that, and gradually I feel like I improved with my decision-making.

"I feel like I have made improvements, but I know for a fact that I can do way better," Kincade said.

Earlier this spring, Freeze said he expected the competition to continue into the middle of fall camp, but if it stays as close as it appears to be right now, it might continue into the season itself.

"If they are as close as they are now, I could see us going a couple games making sure we have done due diligence in naming a starter," Freeze said. "But, I do not want to do it beyond that or even if that. It wouldn't shock me to go into week one planning to give them all reps to look at how they do when the lights come on. We won't go too long like that. I don't mind playing a couple, but you need to have a guy that is your guy when the time comes." 

Revamped Running Game

Ole Miss returns its two leading rushers from last season in senior running back Jaylen Walton (106 carries, 586 yards, five touchdowns) and sophomore running back Jordan Wilkins (52 carries, 361 yards, one touchdown), but the Rebels appear to have made some changes in the ground game.

"We tweaked a few things," Werner said. "We got some ideas from some other teams that run similar offenses and it's been really good for us."

Despite just 10 healthy offensive linemen by the end of the spring, one of the areas where Freeze was most pleased this spring was the running game, and it showed in the Grove Bowl. 

Wilkins led the way with six carries for 62 yards, highlighted by a 28-yard run, but sophomore Eugene Brazley and redshirt freshman Akeem Judd had their moments as well. Walton even threw a 66-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow on a halfback pass.

"We have a bunch of good backs," Werner said. "They're in a situation where they have so many guys who are really good players that they have to compete. When you get a chance to run the ball, you better make a good run."

Jones, Hampton Among Spring Surprises

Freeze has said they are searching for more consistency at the wide receiver position, but when asked earlier this week who has been the biggest surprise of spring practice, the first name that came to his mind was junior wide receiver Derrick Jones.

Jones credited another year in the program and the confidence of playing on just one of the ball for his breakout spring. In the Grove Bowl, he led the Red team with three catches for 35 yards.

"It gives me a lot of confidence, knowing that I'm going to be in this spot and keep working at one position, and not wondering if I'm going to be a cornerback or a receiver," Jones said.

Sophomore defensive back C.J. Hampton was another name that Freeze mentioned as players who have impressed this spring. After a year learning behind All-American safety Cody Prewitt, Hampton is now competing for playing time at free safety, and he was named the most improved defensive player of the spring.

"Cody was on hard me last year," Hampton said. "He wanted me to learn. He always said I was good enough and that I had to learn it fast. I learned it, and I'm rolling with it now. I still talk to Cody a lot now."

Former Ole Miss head coach Billy Brewer almost did not sign Chucky Mullins, whose memory has been honored with the Chucky Mullins Courage Award.

Nate Wayne, a four-year letterman for the Rebels and the 1997 recipient of the award, who was a special guest at this year's ceremony, shared a similar story of how his high school coach convinced Coach Brewer to offer him a scholarship.

Fittingly, this year's winner, senior defensive back Mike Hilton, followed a similar path to Ole Miss.

Then a 5-foot-9, 175-pound athlete from Sandy Creek High School in Fayetteville, Georgia, Hilton was not the highest-profile football prospect. 

Hilton was a 247Sports composite three-star prospect, the No. 71 ranked player in Georgia by Rivals.com and the No. 78 running back in the nation by Scout.com. But something about him grabbed the attention of one coach, which made all the difference.

"I almost did not sign him," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "I almost messed it up. He had some academic issues at first and he was undersized. I had three weeks to recruit him and I was not sure that he was going to make it. Matt Luke went to one of their practices. They had five Division I players on that team, and he said there was no question who the alpha dog was on the field and that we had better take this kid."

Since stepping on campus in the fall of 2012, Hilton has been a key contributor on Ole Miss defense, playing in 36 games with 28 starts, including a start at every position in the defensive backfield. He led the Rebels with 71 tackles last season, to go along with 4.0 tackles for loss, three interceptions and seven pass break-ups.

Hilton started the spring at Rover safety, before suffering a broken thumb that ended his spring practice. But come the fall, Hilton will be one of the leaders on the Ole Miss defense, wearing Mullins' No. 38 jersey, whether it's at that Rover safety position, or one of the other starting spots in the defensive backfield.

"I have always been undersized, so I knew I had to put forth that extra effort," Hilton said. "You have to have the mentality to do what you have to do on and off the field, and I have been able to do that. I'm thankful for the coaches to give me an opportunity to come out here and do what I do and also show what I can do off the field."

Speaking about Mullins, Freeze said the one thing he keeps coming back to is something that Tea Southerland, the 1992 winner of the award, said. Southerland said it was one of the highest honors he'd ever received, which Freeze said is a great statement, but the statement that followed really grabbed him. He said, "I wonder if Chucky would say they got the right guy."

Freeze said the one thing he knows that the right kind of people have is the ability to finish. That doesn't mean you don't stub your toe or you fall down, but they finish. Hilton, Freeze said, is the one guy they kept coming back to represent the spirit of Mullins.

"We have made our kids understand that if you get award this award, it's a big deal," Freeze said. "It's the highest award that our program gives, and it comes with a lot of responsibility. This year, out staff had a difficult selecting it, not because we couldn't the one, but because we had five who were all deserving. That's a good sign for our program."

"When I put that 38 on, nothing else mattered, said Wayne, who also enjoyed an eight-year professional career in the NFL. "It wasn't just about me. It was about my wife, my daughter, my family, my Ole Miss family and Chucky. At that point, I realized that every decision I made didn't just affect me. It affected everyone involved with me. If it wasn't for that mentality, who knows where I would be today."

Three and Out: Grove Bowl Edition

Three areas to watch as Ole Miss splits into two teams for the annual Regions Bank Grove Bowl on Saturday.

Can Someone Emerge in the Quarterback Battle?

By all indications, sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade and junior college transfer Chad Kelly have split reps evenly this spring. 

The coaches have charted every throw and every drill, but there does not appear to be any true separation, and head coach Hugh Freeze has said he expects the competition to continue into the middle of fall camp.

Freeze and co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner were both generally pleased with the play of all three quarterbacks in their last scrimmage, but Freeze did say that Buchanan graded out the best of the three.

What does their last opportunity to impress the coaches before summer workouts and fall camp hold? 

As with previous observations of the quarterbacks, there's a caveat: The offense is not yet at full strength, particularly along the offensive line, where the Rebels have just 10 healthy players.

Physical Play on the Outside

More than any other matchup on the field, I found myself watching the wide receivers and tight ends working against the defensive backs. The play is physical, and the players appear to take each play personally.

Perhaps the most physical on the offensive side of the ball, Laquon Treadwell, will not be participating in the Grove Bowl, but Quincy Adeboyejo, Cody Core and Markell Pack have all returned from their respective injuries. Derrick Jones has also been one of the biggest surprises of spring practice and he's another player to watch.

On the defensive side of the ball, Tony Bridges and Tee Shepard are long, athletic and physical, and they pride themselves on being able to play on an island by themselves. Kendarius Webster is another long, athletic and physical corner. Like Derrick Jones, C.J. Hampton has been another surprise of spring practice.

It should be fun to watch on Saturday.

Battle in the Trenches

The Ole Miss defensive line was one of the most talented units in the nation last year. This year, the group may be even better with a year of maturity and experience for returnees and the addition of a trio of redshirt freshmen in Victor Evans, Garrald McDowell and Breeland Speaks and junior college transfer D.J Jones.

That being said, one of the areas where Freeze has been most pleased this spring has been in the running game, a credit to an offensive line that continues to deal with injuries and a group of running backs that may have found their stride this spring. Akeem Judd is one name that has popped up a lot this spring.

Junior Jeremy Liggins, who has transitioned to offensive tackle, and redshirt freshman Jordan Sims and freshman Javon Patterson, who have both come a long way this spring, are three players to watch along the offensive line.

By splitting into two teams, with five healthy offensive linemen each, it may be hard to tell if there's any improvement in the running game on Saturday, but it's something to watch nevertheless. And it will certainly be something to watch when the Rebels will likely have a full complement of healthy players come fall camp.

Junior cornerback Tee Shepard's story has been well-documented. 

Shepard is hearing impaired, but since he has arrived at Ole Miss, he has been the beneficiary of new hearing technology that has allowed him to hear sounds, such as a coach's whistle.

"The new technology hearing aid I have is phenomenal," Shepard said. "When I got it last fall, I heard my first whistle ever. It's crazy because I'm hearing sounds I haven't heard before, and I'm starting to pick it up."

Shepard is thankful for Ole Miss and the resources they have been able to provide him, specifically someone who understands his impairment in Shannon Singletary, the senior associate athletics director for health and sports performance.

"This is the first place that finally understood how bad my hearing was," Shepard said. "Shannon has a hearing loss himself, so we have that connection, and he's helped out me out big time."

That same fall, when he heard his first whistle, he appeared on the verge of emerging as a starter, or at least a regular contributor, in the Rebels' defensive backfield.

However, his promising fall camp was cut short after tearing a tendon in his toe that required surgery and a long rehabilitation.

"It was a freak accident," Shepard said. "I had never heard of a torn ligament in your toe. Everything happens for a reason. God has made me better this year. I was disappointed, but at the same, it got me ready and prepared for this season."

His toe, Shepard said, is probably about 85 percent, but he trusts it now. He said he also added about 10 pounds that has helped him be even more physical this spring.

"I have always been a physical corner," Shepard said. "You have to be physical because these big wide receivers are physical, like Laquon Treadwell. If we're not physical with them, they're going to outwork you." 

Nearing the end of his first spring practice, Shepard has once again emerged as a likely starter at cornerback for the Rebels, perhaps opposite fellow junior Tony Bridges, a junior college transfer.

"We have to be physical, lockdown corners because we can't run our defense the way we want to without us being on an island by ourselves," Shepard said. "I have been looking forward to this moment. It's been a long journey for me. I'm excited. I'm ready to go."

Players Ready to Take on Bigger Roles in Year Two

They did not have the fanfare of the class that came in the year before them, but last year's freshmen made valuable contributions in their own way. Among those then-freshmen are sophomore defensive end Marquis Haynes and sophomore offensive guard Rod Taylor. 

Haynes, a Freshman All-America and SEC All-Freshman selection, set an Ole Miss freshman record for sacks with a team-leading 7.5 last season. Coaches and his teammates have noted how Haynes has gotten stronger to play better against the run, which has been a point of emphasis for him going into and through spring practice.

"I didn't trust my power like I should have my freshman year," Haynes said. "This year, I want to try to do better on that. I have been getting stronger. Playing the run against Alabama, I saw what I was doing. This year, I should have a big improvement."

Taylor was a regular in the offensive line rotation and started two games, including the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against TCU, getting thrown into the fire due to injuries. It has been a similar case for him this spring, running with the first-team offense and getting a lot of reps, also due to injuries.

"It's been good to get increase reps in practice," Taylor said. "I feel like with me getting a lot of reps at my position, I'm getting better at what I'm supposed to do and I feel like I'm getting better every day. I had to get better with my technique and my stance and putting my hands in the right place. Those are the things I'm getting better at."

The coaches have also raved about second-year players C.J. Hampton, who's emerged at free safety, DeMarquis Gates, who might can play both Mike or Stinger linebacker, and Kendarius Webster, who like Tee Shepard, is in the mix at the cornerback position.

Ole Miss celebrated one of the most successful years in school history. The women's basketball team saw its season come to an end in the Sweet 16 of the Postseason WNIT. The football team continued spring practice, and we're now less than two weeks away from the Grove Bowl. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- The Ole Miss athletic department held the fifth annual Rebels' Choice Awards Monday night. Five different sports took home multiple awards, led by the football team, which took home five awards. Check out the full show here.

- The parity among the various sports and the caliber of candidates for each of the awards are a testament to the recent renaissance over the last calendar year that has included a College World Series appearance, a New Year's Six bowl appearance and an NCAA Tournament appearance in men's basketball, among other accomplishments.

- The Ole Miss women's basketball finishes the season with a 19-14 record, the best record since the 2006-07 season that ended in the Elite Eight. The Rebels lose three seniors from this year's team in Tia Faleru, Danielle McCray and Amber Singletary, but they will return a talented group that will look to lead the program back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time, also since that 2006-07 season.

- In the Sweet 16 of the Postseason WNIT, Head coach Matt Insell faced off against his father Rick Insell for the second time this season. Good read from The Clarion-Ledger's Riley Blevins on what MTSU billed as Family Feud II.

- The 2015 WNBA Draft will be held Thursday, April 16, and graduating senior Tia Faleru is ranked No. 21 in the WNBA Senior Class Elite 25. The draft contains three rounds and 36 overall picks.

- The baseball team was unable to sustain the momentum from a series win over No. 1 Florida, going 1-4 on the week, dropping both games of a doubleheader against UAB and then losing two of three on the road at Arkansas. The Rebels sit at 14-14 and 4-5 in SEC play, ahead of a midweek matchup at Memphis on Tuesday and a three-game home weekend series against Tennessee.

- The softball team also traveled to Arkansas, picking up their second straight series win, sweeping the Razorback and running their winning streak to six games. It was the first three-game sweep of an SEC foe since the final weekend of the 2012 season. They also showed up in support of the baseball team for their series opener on Thursday, before starting their own series on Friday.

- The football team wrapped up week three of spring practice with a two-hour practice inside the Manning Center on Saturday, a practice that resembled a scrimmage with 7-on-7 play and 11-on-11 live action. Check out my spring update, as well as my feature on Laquon Treadwell, who's about 80 percent back from injury.

- All three quarterbacks did good things on Saturday, and head coach Hugh Freeze and co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner said as much. Freeze also said he does not expect to name a starter until about midway through fall camp.

- Saturday was also my first live look at the team, including a talented group of newcomers. Tony Bridges, D.J. Jones, Chad Kelly and Javon Patterson have all drawn high praise from the coaches, and all four players looked the part on Saturday.

- A couple of plays also stand out from Saturday. Kelly put a couple of deep balls out there, one on the first play of 11-on-11 action and another to Quincy Adeboyejo that would have gone for a touchdown, if it wasn't called back. Another play was Damore'ea Stringfellow making a one-handed grab on a fade route against Bridges. Watching those two go against each other was something to watch.

- Here's more from Freeze about Kelly: "His arm strength is pretty dang good. He gets it out there and he puts the right amount of air under it. We threw some good deep balls with him today. He hit Quincy on one, and he threw a couple of other nice ones... Chad's arm is a little stronger than we have been used to."

- Here's more from Werner about Kelly: "It's amazing how quickly he picks the stuff up. He's been a really quick study."

- The 13th-ranked men's tennis team finished a brutal 10-day stretch that included five SEC matches, the last three all on the road in a span of five days. The Rebels went 3-2, including a 1-2 over the final three games this past week. The highlight of the week was Nik Scholtz, who erased six match points to deliver a 4-3 win at No. 24 LSU on Friday. The Rebels are now 13-6 overall and 5-3 in the SEC.

- In women's tennis action, Julia Jones won her 97th and 98th career matches, and she might have a chance to win her 100th career match next weekend. The 21st-ranked Rebels are now 11-8 overall and 3-7 in the SEC.

The SEC Network will air every SEC spring football game with multiple viewing opportunities on both television and the network's digital platforms. All 12 spring football games will be carried live and in full on SEC Network + with additional coverage on SEC Network Alternate.

On Saturday, April 11 and Saturday April 18, SEC Network Alternate will carry whiparound coverage between the multiple games being played, including the Grove Bowl on April 11. Every spring game will also have multiple airing during the week on SEC Network.

The Grove Bowl, scheduled for April 11 at noon, will be broadcast live on SEC Network+, and it will later be broadcast on the SEC Network on Sunday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m. Chris Cotter and Greg McElroy will be on the call and Kayce Smith will be on the sidelines.

The network's coverage of spring football will also include "SEC Network: 2015 Spring Football Tour," a school-dedicated series on series on Southeastern Conference football teams, which will include coaching interviews, practice football and news of the day over multiple shows.

Ole Miss will be the location highlighted as part of the series on Tuesday, April 7 at 10 p.m. CT with hosts Kayce Smith and Booger McFarland.

For a full schedule of both the spring games and the SEC Now: 2015 Spring Football Tour, click here.

The men's basketball team returns to the site of its 2013 SEC Tournament title, looking to punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The women's basketball team awaits its postseason fate, the baseball team hits the road for its longest road trip of the season, during which they will play two top-15 teams, and the football team opened spring practice. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team split its final week of the regular season, finishing with a 20-11 overall and 11-7 SEC record, tied for third place in the league standings. However, by virtue of a tiebreaker, the Rebels will be the No. 6 seed in the Nashville, where they await the winner of No. 11 seed South Carolina and No. 14 Missouri in the nightcap of Thursday's second-round games.

- With the win over Alabama on Tuesday night, Ole Miss picked up its 20th win of the season, the seventh 20-win season in nine seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just seven 20-win season in the 96 seasons before Kennedy's arrival.

- Against Vanderbilt, Ole Miss shot over 40 percent and committed just six turnover, but they were unable to overcome a hot shooting night from the Commodores. As a team, Vanderbilt shot 54.5 percent from the field and went 13-for-23 from 3-point range, tying its season high for 3-point field goals made.

"They put on a clinic," Kennedy said. "They've been shooting the ball well. They're as good a shooting team as we've faced maybe in the nine years here. Basketball is a game of rhythm. You have to disrupt theirs and establish yours. We didn't tonight. We were a step slow. We've been a step slow all year, and I've had to create defenses. We were moving slow, and they were making shots. We didn't have any answers." 

- Looking ahead, Ole Miss returns to Nashville, the site of its 2013 SEC Tournament title, and faces the same path this week, but with an additional second-round game against the winner of the South Carolina and Missouri matchup. Georgia awaits in a possible quarterfinal matchup, a team Ole Miss played in last year's quarterfinals.

- As far as the NCAA Tournament, despite the loss to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss remains a team projected in the field, as a No. 10 seed in ESPN's Joe Lunardi's bracket, and as one of the last four teams in the field in CBS Sports' Jerry Palm's and USA Today's Shelby Mast's brackets. Here's more from Palm, who had the Rebels among his teams "on the fence" in his latest Bubble Watch.

- Earlier in the week, after the win over Alabama, ESPN's Eamonn Brennan considered the Rebels a lock in his latest Bubble Watch, but after the loss to Vanderbilt, he rescinded that. Here's more from Brennan.

"I don't know what has transpired around the country, but our name has not been mentioned one time in any bubble conversation," Kennedy said. "It probably will now. We've probably put ourselves in a precarious situation where we need to look at what other people do."

- One of my favorite sports data and analytics sites, Team Rankings, projects Ole Miss as a No. 12 seed and gives the Rebels a 55 percent chance of making the NCAA Tournament. With one win in Nashville, Team Rankings gives them a 51.3 percent chance, and with two wins, it jumps up to 77.0 percent.

- Bid thieves shrink the NCAA Tournament bubble. And as Brennan noted in his latest Bubble Watch, they are most likely to come from high-major leagues this season. Bubble teams breathed a collective sigh of relief when Northern Iowa won the Missouri Valley Conference on Sunday, making it a two-bid league instead of a three-bid league. On a similar note, bubble teams would also probably like to see Gonzaga win the West Coast Conference automatic bid.

- After a strong end to the regular season, the Ole Miss women's basketball team fell short in a 72-61 loss to Arkansas in the second round of the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament. The Rebels, now 17-13 and likely Postseason WNIT bound, will learn their postseason fate on Monday, March 16. It would be their first postseason appearance since 2009-10.

- Here's a couple of great stories related to the Ole Miss pep band, which stepped in as a replacement to act as Kentucky's band, which was unable to make the trip to Little Rock for the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament due to inclement weather. For our story, click here. For the stories from The Clarion-Ledger and The Lexington Herald-Leader, click here and here.

- The Ole Miss baseball team claimed its third weekend series of the season, sweeping Saturday's doubleheader before dropping Sunday's series finale. The Rebels, now 8-6, face a pair of tough road series this week, a two-game midweek series at No. 11 Louisville, and a three-game weekend series at No. 2 LSU.

- The star of Saturday's doubleheader sweep was sophomore right-hander Brady Bramlett, who struck out a career-high 12 batters, joining some elite company in the process. His 12 strikeouts were four shy of tying the school record, the most in a game by an Ole Miss pitcher since Drew Pomeranz struck out 15 in a win over Georgia on April 9, 2010. It was also Bramlett's second digit strikeout game of the season, becoming the first Rebel to record multiple double-digit strikeouts games since Pomeranz, also in 2010.

"He's always fired up and ready to go," said junior left-hander Christian Trent of Bramlett. "I thought he was going to get the record two weeks ago. I thought he was going to get the record today. He was on pace for 27, but 12 is still impressive. I'm sure he will take 12."

- The No. 17-ranked Ole Miss women's tennis team swept the weekend, not dropping one singles or doubles match in 7-0 wins over Arkansas and Missouri. With the weekend sweep, the Rebels improved to 10-3 overall and 2-2 in the SEC. Senior Julia Jones, ranked No. 14 in the nation, won both of her singles matches, improving to 21-5 overall and 11-2 at No. 1 singles this season and picking up her 93rd and 94th career wins.

- The No. 9-ranked Ole Miss men's team dropped a 4-2 decision at Alabama, their first outdoor match in more than a month. Their other weekend match, a road contest at rival Mississippi State, was postponed and will be rescheduled for a later day. Next up is a marquee nonconference home match against No. 5 Baylor on Tuesday.

- The Ole Miss football team began spring practice Tuesday. Here Some storylines to follow, as the Rebels get into the heart of spring practice after Spring Break: The three-way quarterback battle, some position changes on defense and the return of Laquon Treadwell and Denzel Nkemdiche from injury. Check out some notes and quotes already on the blog and stay tuned to more coverage.

- NFL hopefuls Cody Prewitt, a projected second-round pick by CBSSports.com, and Senquez Golson, a projected fourth-round pick, continue to impress in pre-draft workouts, most recently at Ole Miss' Pro Day on Thursday. Three other hopefuls, Deterrian Shackelford, Carlos Thompson and Deterrian Shackelford also made some impressions. For more, check out my recap of Pro Day.

- Ole Miss played a couple of tribute videos before Saturday's home men's basketball game against Vanderbilt. Here's one to Tad Smith Coliseum, and here's another to graduating seniors Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White, two Mississippi natives and the first members of their respective immediate families to graduate from college.

NFL Scouting Combine participants Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt are among 18 former Ole Miss players expected to go through Pro Day workouts in hopes of realizing their professional football dreams. More than 25 representatives from 22 different teams were on hand for last year's Pro Day that featured future third-rounder Donte Moncrief of the Indianapolis Colts.

Golson and Prewittt are expected to be joined by 12 other recently-departed Rebels, including Serderius Bryant and Bo Wallace, as well as four players more than a year removed from their time in the Red and Blue. Golson and Prewitt, who both impressed at the combine, may not compete in every drill at Pro Day.

A reminder that the event is closed to the public, but we will have complete coverage on the official site. Official times and results will be posted on NFL.com in the days following Pro Day.

2014 Seniors participating:

Bryon Bennett

Serderius Bryant

Cliff Coleman

Will Denny

Senquez Golson

Lavon Hooks

Lakedrick King

Keith Lewis

Carlton Martin

Nicholas Parker

Cody Prewitt

Deterrian Shackelford

Carlos Thompson

Bo Wallace


Nick Brassell

Tyriek Gracia

Uriah Grant

Jamal Mosley

Ole Miss welcomes back seven starters from the nation's No. 1 scoring defense, but two of those starters, seniors C.J. Johnson and Mike Hilton, will be starting the spring at different positions, with Johnson at Mike linebacker and Hilton at Rover safety.

"This is a different team with a different group of players with different talents," Johnson said. "The key for us is how do we build on what he had last year. We have a lot of young guys stepping in and trying to fill roles, so they have to understand what it takes to get to where we were last year."

Johnson was originally recruited as a linebacker and began his Ole Miss career at the position, before moving to defensive end, where he has played for the last three-plus years. He and coaches talked about a move to linebacker after the bowl game and then closer to National Signing Day.

"I wanted to try something different," Johnson said. "The coaches knew I knew the playbook really well and they knew me sitting in the defensive line meetings for install the first couple of days would be completely boring for me, so we decided to try the move."

The most senior member of the Ole Miss defense, Johnson said he knows pretty much know what everybody in front of him is doing, and he also draws on his high school and early college experience playing linebacker, but there's still a lot to learn.

"With the multiple things we do, you have to be able to do a lot of different things, so it's going to be a challenge for me," Johnson said. "It feels familiar and it feels good. A lot comes with the position, being the quarterback of the front of the defense and getting everybody set and lined up, knowing the checks and formations. It's going to be a big learning process for me, but I'm ready for it." 

As a defense, despite ranking among the nation's leaders in most statistical categories, Johnson said they need to give up fewer big plays to improve as a defense. In their meeting yesterday, Johnson said, defensive coordinator Dave Wommack brought up that they were two plays away from an 11-1 record with a case to play in the College Football Playoff.

Those two plays, Johnson said, were a pair of dropped interceptions, one in 35-31 loss to Auburn and another in a 10-7 loss to LSU. He also mentioned a sack that he missed on a third down against LSU, after which the Tigers drove down the field and scored.

"You look at the games we lost, and we didn't get turnovers and we gave up too many big plays," Johnson said. "If we eliminate the big plays and we get more takeaways, we'll be a better defense."

Familiar Spot for Hilton

The coaches have shown a similar type trust in Hilton, who has started a game at every defensive backfield position, including two career starts, both last season, at Rover safety. 

"I feel like it's another good move for me," Hilton said. "Once again, it show the trust the coaches have in me and my ability go out and produce on the field."

His move to Rover safety leaves a two-deep at cornerback that will likely include juniors Tony Bridges, Kailo Moore, Tee Shepard and freshman Kendarius Webster. It also shifted senior Trae Elston from Rover safety to free safety, where he will look to replace three-plus year starter Cody Prewitt.

"Free safety is more in the box and has more run support responsibility, while the Rover safety has more coverage responsibility and has to be able to tackle in the open field," Hilton said. "I feel like it's a good spot for me because open-field tackling is one of my best assets." 

Hilton is learning under first-year safeties coach Corey Batoon, a member of head coach Hugh Freeze's Ole Miss staff since the beginning, who was recently promoted to assistant coach for safeties and special teams coordinator in January.

"He's a strategist," said Hilton of Batoon. "He wants everything down perfect. He wants you making the right steps and everything. I feel like he will put us in the right position to make plays; we just have to go make them."


Johnson on returning to linebacker: "The game has slowed down for me a lot. I pretty much know what everybody in front of me is doing, as opposed to coming in as a freshman when you know absolutely nothing. Right now, I'm getting adjusted to the drops and coverages."

Johnson on his playing weight: "I was trying to lose weight to get down to a weight where I could run and play fast, and over the weekend, I came in Monday at around 246. I have to drop a little weight, but I felt fine yesterday running."

Johnson on the move to linebacker preparing him for the NFL: "I don't really know, I don't really get involved in all that. I try to come to work every day, do my job and play to my strengths as a football player."

Johnson on leadership: "It kind of feels weird being the oldest one out there and being the person that everyone looks up to. It's something I'm ready to embrace."

Hilton on the defense's identity: "I feel the identity of the defense is the same. We still have guys like C.J., myself, Trae, Issac and all those guys on the defensive front. We feel like we have that same Landshark mentality and the mentality to be one of the top defenses."

Hilton on Tee Shepard: "He looks really good. He's holding up and playing well. He's running full speed and everything. He's looking good. He's ready."

Hilton on Tony Bridges: "He's really quiet, but he's really coachable. He's even come up to me and asked questions. He's really coachable. He works with Coach (Jason) Jones a lot. He's good be a good one for us."

Hilton on the younger players: "Breeland (Speaks) has shown dominance up front. He's put on some weight, but he's still able to move. Victor (Evans) is coming off the edge a lot better. Those two I'm really looking forward to seeing this year."

The Southeastern Conference announced today Kickoff '15, its annual football media days, will be held July 13-16, remaining at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. The event will continue to be four days in 2015.

The 2014 edition featured an additional fourth day to the event, and it will remain the same for the 2015 edition. Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss contingency will be in the Magic City on the final day, Thursday, July 16, and grouped with Georgia and LSU.

ESPN will once again bring SEC Media Days to a national audience, with the SEC Network making its debut at the event to close out a historic first year for the newly launched network. The network will have live coverage all four days.

A more detailed daily schedule with full television information, rotational breakdown and student-athletes attending will be available later this summer.

The previous four SEC Football Media Days have drawn over 1,000 attendees, including over 1,200 attendees each of the last two years.


MONDAY, July 13

SEC Commissioner

Auburn - Gus Malzahn

Florida - Jim McElwain

Vanderbilt - Derek Mason

TUESDAY, July 14

SEC Coordinator of Officials - Steve Shaw

South Carolina - Steve Spurrier

Texas A&M - Kevin Sumlin

Miss. State - Dan Mullen

Tennessee - Butch Jones


Alabama - Nick Saban

Kentucky - Mark Stoops

Arkansas - Bret Bielema

Missouri - Gary Pinkel


LSU - Les Miles

Georgia - Mark Richt

Ole Miss - Hugh Freeze

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    Hunter Comstock said:

    Boy, I surely hope the Rebels don't have anymore nail biters like the Bama game. My nerves won't take it.

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    Bulmer I love you and ole Miss

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    Rhonda said:

    Coach Freeze is a genuine coach and our players and fans adore him!!

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    Gary Vaughn said:

    It's great to be a Rebel fan. Coach Freeze
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    After we upset Alabama this weekend
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    Tom said:

    I am not and never have been an Ole Miss fan. I am however a Coach Freeze fan. I like what he represents in today's world of big time sports and what he stands for in leading young men of today into a more responsible role. He is everything that Ole Miss has never had. I am on his band wagon winning or losing.

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    Cory Wilson said:

    How can I get my hands on one of these?

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    Dave Darnell said:

    Gray pants with red and blue stripes on the legs have served Ole Miss football my entire life time. The blue on blue, red on red and white on white are hideous and UGLY! Leave the pants alone.

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    Ole Miss '68

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