Mississippi finished the 2017 season on a positive note with a win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl to end a tumultuous season. The Rebels defense, however, had little to do with whatever pleasant taste was left in the mouths of fans.
How bad was Ole Miss on defense? The Wesley McGriff-led group finished 115th out of 129 teams nationally in total defense.
Vast improvement will be required this season.
The team’s linebackers were absent most of the season, but the Rebels recruited hard at the position during both the early and late signing periods. One name you’ll hear early is that of freshman Kevontae’ Ruggs.
The former 3-star outside linebacker, according to 247 Sports, from Montgomery, Ala. (Robert E. Lee) was close to becoming a member of the Crimson Tide. Fortunately for Ole Miss, his Alabama offer was declined and Ruggs committed to the Rebels. He should immediately help an anemic defense.
Ruggs erupted on the recruiting scene during the 2017 Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Game, leading the Alabama team on defense. At 6-4, 190 lbs., the Rebels’ strength and conditioning staff will enjoy the opportunity of helping him grow into a SEC linebacker.
More than anything, Ruggs is excited about the opportunity to play in the SEC and at Ole Miss.
“It’s really amazing to know that I’m in position to do something great,” Ruggs told the Montgomery Advertiser. “It’s a really good football environment (at Ole Miss). You can’t really find anything to get you in trouble, so it’s a great place.”
He has football lineage as well. His older brother, Henry, plays for Alabama and made the All-SEC Freshman team last season as a wide receiver, hauling in a touchdown pass in the national championship game.
Ruggs will need to muster all of his potential to help turn around a Rebels’ defense that has been – candidly – awful for two seasons now. During the 2016 campaign it allowed 246.3 rushing yards per game and 31 rushing TDs. Last season, it was essentially as bad, allowing 245.3 per game and 29 TDs.
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