Spring practice is underway for college programs across the country. It’s a beautiful time of year where every school believes their goals are attainable. Every player can imagine themselves on the field for long periods, and can dream of winning awards. This type of preseason hope exists everywhere, but our focus must be narrowed quite a bit. In 2022, the Ole Miss Rebels started 7-0, before losing four of their last five games to finish 8-4. The reasons for that can be discussed another time.
Today, we forget the pains of 2022, and instead look at the promise of 2023. Let’s take a look at the most interesting position battle you need to keep an eye on as the Rebels get into spring practice.
Ole Miss football Quarterback battle: Jaxson Dart, Spencer Sanders, Walker Howard
Quarterback is a position that is the end all be all for every football team. You simply cannot win without a good quarterback. For the second successive season, Ole Miss football is entertaining a battle for that position. Jaxson Dart is the returning starter for the Rebels, but he is joined by two capable competitors. Spencer Sanders arrives in Oxford off the back of a very successful career with Oklahoma State, and Walker Howard comes from a star studded quarterback room at LSU.
Early reports out of camp say that Sanders, who is coming off a shoulder injury, hasn’t been throwing much in practices thus far. Howard has been taking reps with the second and third team, leaving Jaxson Dart as the early favorite. In fact, head coach Lane Kiffin has mentioned Dart as one of the most improved players on the team, even going so far as to mention how unusual it is for a returning starting quarterback to be one of those players.
The plan, as it appears at the moment, is for Jaxson Dart and Spencer Sanders to battle it out into the fall. Walker Howard appears to be the guy for the future. Howard is seemingly okay with this arrangement considering he willingly transferred to Ole Miss football.
Of course, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention Spencer Sanders’ transfer status. Sanders came to Oxford using his free undergraduate transfer. He is slated to graduate this semester, meaning, hypothetically, he could transfer again before the 2023 season.
At the moment, regardless of who wins the starting job, it doesn’t seem likely Sanders would do so. But, since it is on the table, it’s worth talking about, even if only briefly.
Dart reportedly becoming a better player over the past few months, and Sanders coming off an injury and being limited means one thing. As things stand, Jaxson Dart is the frontrunner for the Ole Miss football starting job. Things could change, and quickly, but this looks like Dart’s job to lose. He has experience in a quarterback competition at Ole Miss, beating out Luke Altmyer last season, and he knows the offense better than either of his counterparts.
Jaxson Dart showed a lot of promise in 2022, but made quite a few mistakes. Of course, he’d only played in a handful of college games before arriving at Ole Miss, so those were to be expected. However, in the SEC, mistakes made will be capitalized on by opponents. Just eliminating those will do wonders.
If Dart has truly made the kind of strides Kiffin is suggesting, Ole Miss football fans are in for a brilliant 2023 season.
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