OXFORD — Ole Miss announced 14 additions to its 2023 scholarship class — including 12 Division I transfers — on Wednesday, the first day of the latest National Signing Period.
The Rebels also announced a 12-man signing class in December during the early signing period. Overall, 20 players (five high school scholarship players, 12 Division I transfers and three non-scholarship players) have already enrolled in school.
Among the highest-profile names added to the Rebels’ roster are a pair of transfer quarterbacks in former Oklahoma State signal caller Spencer Sanders and former LSU quarterback Walker Howard.
Sanders, a senior, and Howard, a freshman, add to a quarterback room that includes incumbent Jaxson Dart, who transferred in from USC last winter.
Sanders threw for 9,553 yards and 67 touchdowns and ran for another 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns as a four-year starter with the Cowboys. Howard was a consensus four-star recruit in the 2022 class originally from Lafayette, Louisiana.
Luke Altmyer, who battled Dart for the starting job last season before ultimately being named the backup, transferred to Illinois. Kinkead Dent also entered the transfer portal.
“I think Jaxson did a lot of great things last year,” Kiffin said Wednesday. “… I know Jaxson, if you think about when he initially played versus the middle and end, dramatically improved for a young quarterback, we’re very excited about him continuing that. And we were able to add two guys, one more of a veteran, kind of if you look at the NFL model, a veteran, free agent quarterback, and then a really young one, more of a draft pick. So the quarterback room is dramatically in a much better position than it was a year ago.”
The Rebels’ three non-scholarship additions are former Texas A&M kicker Caden Davis, Thomas More University defensive back Antione Johnson and East Mississippi Community College wide receiver Joshua Aka.
Kiffin also discussed one of the ever-evolving dynamics in college sports: the combination of the transfer portal and name, image and likeness (NIL) and all the complications it brings in terms of players choosing schools and keeping players from leaving those schools.
“You’re just in a strange time, because eventually when that guy plays good, you have to recruit him to stay,” Kiffin said. “I mean, when a (transfer) window closes and we don’t lose significant players in a window, it’s like we’re celebrating keeping our own players that weren’t even in the portal. We’re just keeping them from going other places.”
Kiffin said star running back Quinshon Judkins — a first-team all-SEC player and freshman all-American in 2022 — was “one of the most recruited players in the country over the last few months.”
As currently constructed, the whole situation is similar to “free agency without really proper windows,” according to Kiffin, who said he isn’t “mad at the kids. They’re maximizing this flawed system.”
“The way they set it up is, it’s pay for play, and how much money do kids get to go places? And if I transfer and go there how much am I going to get vs. how much if I stay? So, it’s very challenging,” Kiffin said. “It just feels like you’re always in a constant battle of, you’re in the middle of recruiting like you always were, and then you’re recruiting your own kids.”
Here are Ole Miss’ newest scholarship signees:
Defensive lineman Chamberlain Campbell, 6-foot-7, 215 pounds, freshman, Lakewood High School (Florida)
Consensus three-star recruit … Notched eight sacks as a senior.
Offensive lineman Victor Curne, 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, freshman, Washington
Started 16 games from 2020-21, earning all-Pac-12 honorable mention in 2020.
Defensive lineman Joshua Harris, 6-foot-4, 325 pounds, senior, NC State
Was a four-star recruit coming out of high school who notched 27 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss in his career at NC State.
Wide receiver Tre Harris, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, senior Louisiana Tech
Quarterback Walker Howard, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, freshman, LSU
Threw a combined 67 touchdown passes over his final two high school seasons and was the 2020 Gatorade Player of the Year and MaxPreps Player of the Year in Louisiana.
Linebacker Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste, 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, senior, UCF
Racked up 152 tackles (14 for loss) in four years with Central Florida.
Wide receiver Chris Marshall, 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, sophomore, Texas A&M
A four-star recruit in the 2022 class, Marshall caught 11 passes for 108 yards with the Aggies.
Offensive lineman Quincy McGee, 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, senior, UAB
Started 12 games last season and was second-team All-Conference USA
Linebacker Monty Montgomery, 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, senior, Louisville
Made 160 career tackles at Louisville, including 70 (11 tackles for loss and six sacks) in 2022.
Tight end Caden Prieskorn, 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, senior, Memphis
Caught 48 passes for 602 yards and seven touchdowns for the Tigers in 2022. Was second-team all-AAC choice.
Quarterback Spencer Sanders, 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, senior, Oklahoma State
Went 31-12 as Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback and amassed 11,509 combined passing and rushing yards.
Cornerback John Saunders, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, senior Miami (Ohio)
Intercepted five passes and made 65 tackles over two seasons with the RedHawks.
Offensive lineman Mana Taimani, 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, junior, Diablo Valley College/Wyoming
Spent two seasons at Wyoming before transferring to Diablo Valley College.
Cornerback Zamari Walton, 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, senior, Georgia Tech
Started 37 games at Georgia Tech. Broke up 20 passes, intercepted three passes and made 125 tackles.
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