OLE MISS

What Ole Miss football stars said about NFL Draft decisions during Sugar Bowl preparations

Nick Suss
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

OXFORD — Some of Ole Miss football's most important players are trying to delay their big decisions until after the big game.

No. 8 Ole Miss (10-2) plays No. 6 Baylor (11-2) in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 (7:45 p.m., ESPN) in New Orleans. No Rebels have elected to opt out of the game, giving Ole Miss its full arsenal to match up against the Bears.

Junior running back Jerrion Ealy, junior offensive tackle Nick Broeker and senior linebacker Chance Campbell all spoke to the media during the first week of Ole Miss' bowl practices and all downplayed the decisions they have to make about the NFL Draft.

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"It's something I'm not really focused on right now," Broeker said. "I'm definitely just focused on winning the Sugar Bowl and I'll deal with all that later."

"I'll tell you this right now: I'm just focusing on this bowl game," Ealy said. "That's my only main concern right now."

"Now that I'm back here I can just focus on playing ball," Campbell said. "That's kind of the fun part. The work side isn't the fun part. I'm excited to just get back to playing football."

Broeker and Ealy are draft eligible after their third college seasons. Campbell participated in Ole Miss' senior day festivities but has an extra year of eligibility because of the blanket year given to all athletes in 2020.

Mississippi running back Jerrion Ealy (9) is tackled from behind by a Texas A&M defender during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

None of the three are particularly highly-graded prospects. ESPN's Scouts Inc., ranks Broeker as the No. 14 offensive tackle in the class and grades him as a middle-round prospect. Ealy is Scouts Inc.'s No. 17 running back who they project as a fifth-round pick or later. Campbell doesn't have a Scouts Inc., grade and isn't ranked among draft evaluation site Walter Football's top 30 inside linebackers.

That said, all of them have reason to consider forgoing another year of college.

Ealy has averaged more than 100 all-purpose yards per game all three years he's been in college. Broeker has been a stalwart in pass protection; entering the Egg Bowl he'd only allowed one sack in 213 pass blocking snaps this season. And Campbell was one of college football's most productive linebackers, logging 99 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, 11 hurries, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

Getting even one of those players, let alone all three, would be huge for the Rebels in 2022. That said, Broeker and Ealy in particular are sentimentally valuable pieces because of what they've been through in their three years at Ole Miss.

Both signed with the Rebels under a previous coaching regime when the Rebels were just coming off NCAA probation and hadn't been to a bowl game in three seasons. They struggled through a freshman year on a bad team that ended with the coaching staff that signed them being fired and fought through to help lead Ole Miss back to a bowl game in 2020 and to the Sugar Bowl in 2021.

"This regular season alone we won more games than my first two years combined," Broeker said. "It's a big credit to coach Kiffin and what he's instilled in us. Not only just his staff but what he's able to do for us leadership wise and kind of bring us together."

Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or nsuss@gannett.com. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.