Ole Miss’ receiving corps has proved to be one of the team’s greatest strengths throughout the season. In the Rebels’ loss at home to South Carolina on Saturday, the position group maintained its success while a new name entered the equation.
True freshman Elijah Moore came to Ole Miss with the understanding that he was not likely to receive a great deal of early playing time due to the abundance of talent and experience that fills the depth chart at receiver. However, injuries to both D.K. Metcalf and Braylon Sanders presented Moore with an opportunity, and he’s delivered.
Moore exploded for 11 catches and 129 yards on Saturday. These numbers nearly doubled the freshman’s total output on the season up to last weekend.
“I felt comfortable,” Moore said. “I like the pressure.”
Moore, who stands at 5 feet, 9 inches and weighs 181 pounds, is a different kind of player than the Rebel receiving corps is used to. Starters A.J. Brown, DaMarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf all stand over 6 feet, 1 inch. Moore’s style makes him best served as a slot receiver, meaning that the more experienced Brown moves to the outside.
“They are all big guys,” Moore said. “But I feel like I’m quicker in space.”
Though he is still young, the wideout said he feels like Ole Miss gives him a great opportunity to succeed. He understands that the wealth of talent of those surrounding him is an invaluable asset.
“The more stuff I learn from them, the more stuff I get to use in my game,” Moore said.
Moore also feels that the presence of those other wideouts can be partially to blame for his success on Saturday.
“Those big-time guys take pressure off of me,” Moore said. “People try to take them out, and (that will) hopefully open me up.”
Moore’s improvements to his game will be vital for Ole Miss going forward into the team’s final three matchups. With Metcalf out for the season and Sanders questionable for the Texas A&M game on Saturday, Moore’s window of opportunity is still wide open. The young receiver is eager to continue his current streak of success.
“When your number is called you have to make the play,” Moore said.
While the team is focussed on this year’s season, it’s hard not to at least consider Moore’s importance in the long run. With Lodge, Brown and Metcalf potentially eyeing the NFL Draft in April, the Ole Miss receiving corps may have an all-new look next year. If Moore can prove to be a reliable target, it could be huge for the Rebels in the long run.
“I just like making plays,” Moore said. (I want to) be a big-time playmaker in the future.”