Junior college players are a crap shoot. That’s a given all across college football.
Every school in the SEC (maybe with the exception of Vanderbilt) can recount a story of some junior college newcomer who arrived with all sorts of hype, only to be a bust on the field.
Keeping that in mind, I can’t help but think that junior college players will play a key role for Ole Miss next season.
Defensive end Wayne Dorsey has already made his presence felt this spring and is vying for the starting job opposite Kentrell Lockett. The 6-foot-7, 255-pound Dorsey was a junior college All-American, and his athleticism and burst off the edge make him an imposing complement to an already stout Ole Miss defensive line.
If Dorsey takes off next season and plays the way he has for much of this spring, Ole Miss’ defensive line will have few peers in the SEC.
Damien Jackson, Dorsey’s former teammate at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, has been equally impressive this spring from his safety position. He’s pushing senior starters Johnny Brown and Fon Ingram and has really blossomed in Tyrone Nix’s attacking defense.
The 6-2, 200-pound Jackson is a big hitter, but he’s also shown a lot of discipline even though he’s still learning the defense and always seems to be in the right spot.
The third key junior college performer for the Rebels has yet to arrive.
Quarterback Randall Mackey of East Mississippi Community College hopes to be on campus sometime in May. He gives the Rebels a multidimensional threat and could take the Wild Rebel formation to a whole different level because he’s a legitimate passer. In junior college, Mackey passed for more than 3,100 yards last season and also rushed for nearly 600 yards.
Sophomore Nathan Stanley has moved out front this spring in the Rebels’ quarterback race, especially with Raymond Cotton’s continuing arm problems.
But with Mackey’s versatility, he’s a strong bet to come in and play at least a supporting role at quarterback next fall. And if the Rebels struggle on offense early, don't be surprised if Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt goes to Mackey full time.