Portal season is finally here, which means that most schools are chaotically running around recruiting from the transfer database. It also means that they’re frantically trying to keep their own players from entering. And seeing as how thousands have already entered in the first three days, that’s easier said than done. For Ole Miss, the transfer portal season is no different. And for the Rebels, it’s already gotten off to a quick start.
When discussing the transfer portal, it’s important to note that things can always change. The portal is a relatively new addition to college football, and most coaches are still figuring out how to navigate that landscape. For Rebels coach Lane Kiffin, his portal mindset is clear. He embraces it. But while he’s had success in the past, the question is whether he can recreate that same success during this year’s portal season.
Ole Miss Limiting Portal Departures
The first step to a good portal season is to limit departures from your own program. So far, Ole Miss only has five names in the portal. While that number is almost certain to grow over the next three weeks, if Kiffin and company can keep that number in the single digits, it will have been a good season.
The other good news surrounding departures is that there are no major names from this year’s roster. The biggest name to enter so far for the Rebels is place kicker Caden Costa. While Costa leaving is unfortunate for Ole Miss fans, it’s not the end of the world. Following a solid true freshman year in 2021, Costa was suspended late in the year and ended up missing the entire 2022 season. Upon returning this year, he saw limited opportunities, though he did make the most of them (6/6 extra points, 1/1 field goals ).
The other notable Rebel in the portal is defensive back Isheem Young. Young transferred to Ole Miss from Iowa State before the 2022 season and played in all 13 games last year, recording 66 total tackles. However, this season he only appeared in seven games, recording 14 tackles. With the drop off in usage and production this year, Young’s departure is a loss, but not a major blow.
Kiffin Lands Huge Portal Wide Receiver
Apart from limiting departures, the other key to a good portal season is filling holes in the roster with the best available talent out there. At the wide receiver position, Kiffin has done just that with the addition of Deion Smith.
Smith, a Jackson, MS native, arrives in Oxford as the highest-ranked junior college player in the country, regardless of position, according to 247Sports. Standing at 6-4 and 200 pounds, Smith has great size and position and can surprise you with his speed. After spending his freshman year at LSU, catching 11 passes for 186 yards, he transferred to Holmes (MS) Community College, where he took the JUCO ranks by storm. In eight games this season, he caught 48 passes and 12 touchdowns. What stands out, however, is the yardage. With 1,063 yards receiving, he averaged 132 yards per game and 22 yards per reception.
And Smith’s commitment couldn’t have come at a better time for the Rebels. On the same day as Smith’s commitment, Ole Miss receiver Dayton Wade announced that he was planning to forego his final year of eligibility in favor of the NFL Draft. With fellow receivers Tre Harris and Jordan Watkins also potentially (likely) foregoing eligibility to instead go pro, the Rebels receiving room is set to look vastly different next season. Bringing Smith in at least fills one of those holes.
Can Ole Miss Stay Hot in the Portal?
While things are always changing when it comes to the transfer portal, Ole Miss has started hot. They’ve limited departures to this point, and also already have a major pickup in Smith. The question now becomes whether they can keep that momentum going. With Kiffin and his affinity for the portal, one can assume the answer is likely yes.
However, it’s still early on, so you never know. But what we do know is that our great writers will keep you up to date with the latest news surrounding the Rebels transfer portal doings, as well as portal season for the rest of college football, here at LWOS, so be sure to stay tuned.