With Christmas just a few days away, Santa is checking over his list one last time before the big night. Here are a few things that the Rebel faithful are hoping to find under the tree this year. We all know that Santa is an Ole Miss fan because who else could rock a red suit better than Ross Bjork? Like Ole Saint Nick says, “Hotty Toddy to all, and to all a good night”.
- Another year of eligibility for Bo
This season, Bo Wallace broke Eli Manning’s school record for total career offensive yards. Wallace also holds the school record for total offense in a season and most completions in a season. During Bo’s three seasons at Ole Miss, he has led the Rebels to three consecutive bowl games and has won both of his previous match-ups. Under the guidance of Hugh Freeze, Bo has helped Ole Miss turn around and become an elite SEC program, and for that, Bo will go down in the Ole Miss history books as one of the greats.
- Cece Jefferson
The 6’2” 250 five-star prospect out of Baker County High School in Glen Saint Mary, Florida is rated the No. 2 defensive end in the nation. There are many schools courting Jefferson and a commit from him would huge, letting Coach Freeze and the defensive coaching staff breathe a little easier this Christmas. We do know that Jefferson is interested and was on campus to see the Rebels beat Alabama.
- Perfect clones of Senquez Golson, Cody Prewitt, and DT Shackleford
These three were key parts of this years’ defense and Ole Miss will lose all three to graduation this year.
Golson has been the cornerstone of the Ole Miss secondary this year and is the Rebels’ first unanimous All-American since Michael Oher in 2008. He led the SEC in interceptions (9), had 41 tackles on the year, with eight deflected passes. His interception in the endzone sealed the victory against Alabama. He will be hard to replace.
Cody Prewitt was an integral part to this year’s defense. The returning two-time All-American had 60 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, with two interceptions, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He has consistently been a force to reckon with on the Ole Miss defense.
DT Shackelford is the unquestioned leader on the Ole Miss defense. He started all 12 games this year at middle linebacker and was a major contributor to the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense. But more than on the field, Shackelford lead the team off the field. He was named to the Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team and was the winner of the Wuerffel Trophy. Both awards are to honor those who make an exemplary commitment to community service. Shackelford is also the only two-time winner of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. The award, given in honor of the late Chucky Mullins, is presented annually to an Ole Miss upperclassman defensive player that embodies the spirit of Mullins – courage, leadership, perseverance and determination.
Even though it will be tough to lose these guys, it will be nice watching them make big plays on Sundays next year.
- Peach Bowl win
The Rebels will take on the TCU Horned Frogs on New Year’s Eve in the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia, pitting the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 scoring defenses. At 23-12, Ole Miss is tied for 9th most bowl wins in college football history. TCU will be out for blood after Ohio State jumped the No. 3 Horned Frogs and kept them out of the playoffs. Ole Miss is 5-1 all-time against the Horned Frogs and a bowl win would really solidify a pretty spectacular season. Sitting at 9-3, on the season, a win against the Horned Frogs would give Ole Miss it’s first 10-win season since David Cutcliffe and Eli Manning lead the team to the Cotton Bowl in 2003.
- Top 5 finish
Finishing in the top five in the CFP Poll would be the icing on the Christmas cookie for the Rebels. The Rebels sit at No. 9 going into the Peach Bowl. If they take care of TCU, there may be a chance that they could slip into the top five. This would be the first top five ranking for the Rebels since 1960. This would really show the college football world that the Ole Miss Rebels are no joke and would really speak to Coach Hugh Freeze’s impact on this program. The Ole Miss Rebels are here to stay.
- Consistent running game
Ole Miss boasts the country’s top scoring defense, allowing only 13.8 points per game. Their run game, on the other hand, is a different story. Ole Miss has tried to incorporate an inside run game, but with undersized running backs and a lack of cohesion on the offensive line, it has failed. Having multiple returners in the offensive line, the emergence of larger back, Jordan Wilkins, and the ability of Akeem Judd, next year may be the first of a formidable downhill running offense during the Hugh Freeze era. New additions, offensive guard Javon Patterson and offensive tackle Drew Richmond will also add strength to the offensive line.
- Healthy Treadwell
The sophomore wide receiver missed most of the season with a horrific ankle injury in a gut-wrenching loss to Auburn. Treadwell was a vital piece to the Ole Miss offense and his absence was definitely felt in the 30-0 shutout loss to Arkansas. The Rebels were without any wideouts capable of making plays downfield, and without Treadwell, the offense definitely took a step back. Treadwell is expected to be healthy by spring practices. Let’s just hope that he is back to 100% and can be the guy making those big plays next year.
- New linebacker coach
Ole Miss is losing their linebackers coach, Tom Allen, to University of South Florida. Allen, who has spent the last three seasons as the Rebel’s linebacker’s coach, took the Defensive Coordinator job at USF. Allen has spent the last three seasons, at Ole Miss, coaching the linebackers and the special teams. Ole Miss finished the season No. 1 in scoring defense (13.8 points per game) and was among the nation’s best in yards per play allowed and turnovers created. He has coached two All-SEC players, in Denzel Nkemdiche and Serderius Bryant, at linebacker. Freeze has said that finding Allen’s replacement is not something that will happen immediately and will most likely happen after the New Year. It is still unclear whether or not Allen will be on the sidelines during the Peach Bowl.
- Money for projects
Ross Bjork has big plans for the sports facilities in Oxford. With the completion of the new Archie and Olivia Manning Indoor Practice Facility, the construction on the new basketball arena, and the plans to bowl in the north endzone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Bjork is trying to make Oxford and Ole Miss a destination for elite SEC athletics. The Ole Miss AD recently announced new plans to bowl in the north endzone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and add a brand new video board, by 2016. This would make VHS the largest stadium in the state of Mississippi. The plans coincide with the Forward Together campaign the university announced in 2011. The current total for the campaign stands at $175.75 million, up from the initial $150 million. With more money, Bjork can build all of the facilities necessary to house an elite program. And we all know that the Rebel faithful can raise a pretty penny in a matter of hours.
10. To beat Mississippi State in everything for the rest of forever
We got our big wish a few weeks ago when we beat the Bulldogs in the Egg Bowl and dashed their chances at a SEC West title and their Playoff hopes. We will continue to enjoy that as we sip Hot Toddies and watch the Egg Bowl replay by the glow of the Christmas tree. Beating State is something that is on the wish list of every Ole Miss fan, player, and coach and I really don’t think that is too much to ask. I’m looking at you, Santa.