FINDING GOLD IN MISSISSIPPI:
In this two-part piece we are going to take a closer look at two QB’s who could be set for breakout seasons in 2019. Both of them play in the same state for Ole Miss & Mississippi State. First up. redshirt freshman Matt Corral.
Ole Miss fans haven’t had much to cheer about on the college football scene in recent history. A number of recruiting indiscretions led to restrictions and a two-year ban from appearing in a bowl game. High profile transfers followed before their misery was compounded with the Hugh Freeze scandal. Head coach Freeze, had been using his work phone to call escorts. The Rebels decided a fresh start was needed and swiftly removed Freeze from his position.
Finally the light seems to be appearing at the end of the tunnel. Ole Miss appointed Freeze’s lieutenant Matt Luke to Head Coach and despite a 5-7 finish in his first full year there is a sense of optimism around Oxford.
One of the biggest issues Luke had to deal with was the defection of highly touted QB Shea Patterson to Michigan ahead of the 2018 season. Senior Jordan Ta’amu stepped in admirably with the help of one of the best receiving corps in the country. With Ta’amu departing for the NFL this offseason, the focus now turns to Ole Miss’s QB of the future Matt Corral.
Corral was a highly regarded recruit in the 2018 class, having been impressive first at Oaks Christian High School and latterly at Long Beach Poly. He originally committed to staying in California with USC, before flipping to Florida. Invited to the Elite 11 ahead of his high school senior year, Corral showed off the talents that made him so sought after.
Coaches at the annual QB camp, that pits high school seniors against one another, were wowed by his arm talent. So much so that he was likened to current Detroit Lions QB Matt Stafford. Despite being only 6’1 he displayed the traits big colleges look for.
Having committed to Florida a change of coaching at the Gators, Jim McElwain departing to be replaced by Dan Mullen, led to a change of heart for Corral. He believed Mullen cooled on him and focussed on recruiting other QBs. The result was Ole Miss stepping in to offer Corral an opportunity to be their QB of the future.
Having redshirted in 2018, Corral heads into this year heavily entrenched as the Rebels starting QB. He made brief appearances last season, most notably a 61 yard touchdown run and two quick strike TDs in relief of Ta’amu as Ole Miss dominated Louisiana Monroe.
His other major appearance came in the Egg Bowl against in-state rivals Mississippi State. Corral flashed his renowned arm talent against a dominant Bulldogs defensive line that contained NFL draft picks Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons. He also managed to be at the centre of an ugly brawl when he stepped in to defend team mate AJ Brown. It showed the leadership and fighting spirit Corral will need to command the offense as a redshirt freshman.
It won’t be easy in 2019 for Corral. The Rebels saw Brown depart for the NFL along with DK Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge, leaving the receiving cupboard rather bare. So what can we expect from Corral?
First of all, it’s Corral’s ability to hit any part of the field that sets him apart. He has a cannon of an arm that he displayed by winning the Long Toss competition at Nike’s Opening Final in 2017 for high school footballers. Looking back at his high school footage you can see how effortless he makes deep throws look while maintaining velocity:
Corral also moves well in the pocket. He is in tune to his line breaking down and can scale up in the pocket efficiently. When things truly break down he has the required athleticism to make a play with his feet. He’s comfortable in play action and throwing on the move, as displayed in Ole Miss’s Spring Game:
The final flash to his game is his signature pump fake he uses to bait defenders. Something that well regarded corner Cam Dantzler found out about when he bit hard on this completion to AJ Brown:
His ability to scale the pocket, make throws on the move and zip the ball around are reminiscent of the also diminutive Baker Mayfield. Corral is at the start of his journey but with the help of Matt Luke he could be special. If nothing else the rematch between the Rebels and the Bulldogs should be a tasty affair with Corral at the helm.
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape throughout the season for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com