Ole Miss

Ole Miss recruiting class of ‘13 seeks strong finish

Mississippi tight end Evan Engram (17) catches a 38-yard touchdown pass in the end zone as he is defended by Vanderbilt safety Arnold Tarpley (2) on Nov. 19 in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 38-17.
Mississippi tight end Evan Engram (17) catches a 38-yard touchdown pass in the end zone as he is defended by Vanderbilt safety Arnold Tarpley (2) on Nov. 19 in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 38-17. Associated Press

Ole Miss signees in the vaunted 2013 recruiting class who did not redshirt will play their final game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday.

It will be into the early evening before they’ll know if they’ll have one more bowl game as Rebels.

Kickoff against Mississippi State is 2:30 p.m., and the game will be televised by the SEC Network.

It’s a group that’s won 32 games to this point, 19 of them over the 2014 and 2015 seasons when the Rebels reached New Years Six bowl games in back-to-back seasons.

“There’s no doubt in our mind that they have rejuvenated and made Ole Miss football relevant again. That will be the memory,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. “Unfortunately, it’s a ‘What have you done for me lately’ society, so some will choose to put emphasis on the disappointing season that many – including myself – view us as having.”

The 2013 class included five-star signees like Laquon Treadwell, Laremy Tunsil and Robert Nkemdiche, all of whom were first-round NFL draft picks last April.

Among the 2013 signees honored Saturday will be defensive back Tony Conner, wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo and tight end Evan Engram.

Engram, listed as questionable for the game, has set school tight end records for catches, yards and touchdowns. He leads the nation’s active tight ends with 2,320 career receiving yards.

The success of the 2013 signees also means that most players on the roster have not experienced only five wins at this late stage of the season.

Only fifth-year seniors John Youngblood, Robert Conyers, Temario Strong and Issac Gross were around when Freeze’s first team had to win the Egg Bowl to get a sixth win and advance to a bowl game in Birmingham.

Freeze says it’s too early to tell how the 5-6 record impacts the frame of mind for players going into the Egg Bowl.

“It’s our job to get them ready for this game regardless of if we have one win, five or 10,” he said.

Injury Update: Joining Engram as questionable for Saturday are Gross and offensive linemen Conyers and Sean Rawlings. Freshman running back D’Vaughn Pennamon and wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge are out.

Patterson OK in two games: Freeze said the performance for quarterback Shea Patterson through two games has been “about where you would expect any freshman who came out this late in the season to be.” Patterson is completing 53.6 of his attempts compared to Chad Kelly’s 62.5 completion percentage. Patterson was 20-for-42 passing in the Rebels’ 38-17 loss at Vanderbilt. Freeze said he counted at least 10 drops by usually reliable Ole Miss receivers.

Gates out for a half: Linebacker DeMarquis Gates, the Rebels’ leading tackler, will miss the first half Saturday as a result of his targeting ejection against Vanderbilt. Freeze said he’ll have more than one player ready to go at outside linebacker. Senior Tayler Polk and junior Ray Ray Smith are listed behind Gates on the depth chart.

Game plan

Who: Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State

When: 2:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford

TV: SEC Network

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