Receivers front and center for Rebels’ offense in 2017

Posted on Apr 7 2017 - 8:01am by Sam Harres

Ole Miss football is hardly, if ever, a known quantity. With each new season arrive a slew of injuries, off-field controversies and just enough late-game magic to keep fans coming back for more. With that said, there is one thing fans of Rebels football can count on year after year: pass-heavy offense. This year will be no exception.

AJ Brown

AJ Brown

New offensive coordinator Phil Longo, the technician previously behind college football’s most explosive offense in the nation, Sam Houston State, has remained relatively tight-lipped on the specifics of his system. Longo’s players, on the other hand, have certainly dropped a few hints. Expect a fast and furious offense built on simple play-calling and unparalleled chemistry.

“With the new Longo offense, we’re trying to move the ball fast,” sophomore wide receiver A.J. Brown said. “The speed of the game is going faster now. We’re moving a lot faster.”

Brown, who caught two touchdowns in 11 games last season, should play a larger role in Longo’s offense this season. An Under Armour All-American and the fifth-ranked receiver prospect coming out of Starkville High School, Brown’s work ethic and humble attitude have solidified his role as a leader this year.

“I was always told potential doesn’t mean anything, but we have a lot of talent in the room,” Brown said. “We can make plays and run routes, but we do the small things every day, so this room is really going to take off this year.”
Joining Brown in the receiver core, D.K. Metcalf hopes to rekindle some of the excitement he generated as a freshman. Metcalf, a consensus four-star recruiting prospect like Brown, arrived at Ole Miss to plenty of fanfare. After catching a touchdown during the Rebels’ loss to Florida State, the big man from Oxford broke his foot just minutes after catching another touchdown against Wofford. His freshman season ended there, but his drive did not.

“I didn’t look at the negative aspect of it (referring to the injury),” Metcalf said. “I looked at it as a time to grow and perfect my mental game.”

Brown and Metcalf have grown close since arriving in Oxford, bonding as brothers both on and off the field.

“He has come a long way. That’s my guy right there,” Brown said about Metcalf. ” I’m glad to see him back at 100 percent, running around. He never gets tired. We just feed off each other.”
With rising sophomore Shea Patterson primed to take command of the Rebels’ offense full time in 2017, the importance of on-field chemistry cannot be understated. After senior quarterback Chad Kelly suffered a season-ending injury against Georgia Southern last season, Patterson played in three games as a true freshman, including a 29-28 win against Texas A&M in College Station.
With several veteran departures this off-season and a new offense to learn, Patterson figures to lean heavily on Brown and Metcalf next fall.

“Shea and I played at the opening together on the same U.S. Army team, and we’re every morning before workouts trying to perfect it, trying to get extra work in,” Metcalf said.

With hungry receivers and fresh tactics, the Rebels will not have problems putting points on the board next season. And while it remains to be seen whether or not the defense can step up from an abysmal 2017, Rebels fans can rest easy knowing Patterson should have plenty of open targets to throw at next fall.