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OXFORD, Miss. — As we count down the days until the Ole Miss season opener against Memphis in the Liberty Bowl, we are releasing who we think the Top 50 Most Impactful Players will be for the Rebels this season. This series is a way for Ole Miss fans to learn more about players to keep an eye on this fall.
Matt Corral was a consensus four-star quarterback, according to ESPN, Rivals, and 247Sports, out of Long Beach Poly High School (Calif.) when he signed with Ole Miss in the Class of 2018.
As a senior at Long Beach Poly, he threw for 2,495 yards and 29 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 206-pound Corral earned U.S. Army All-America honors and was named a member of the Elite 11 and also participated at The Opening Finals in 2017. During the course of his high school career, Corral threw for over 11,000 yards and 123 touchdowns.
As a true freshman for the Rebels in 2018, the Ventura, California native saw action in four games: Southern Illinois, ULM, South Carolina, and Mississippi State.
In those four games, he completed 16-of-22 passes for 239 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Against ULM, he finished 10-for-10 with 143 passing yards and two touchdowns along with 78 yards rushing and a touchdown on 6 rushing attempts.
Corral was able to maintain his redshirt status last season since he only played in four contests. This season, the redshirt freshman has earned the starting job after competing against true freshman quarterbacks Grant Tisdale and Kinkead Dent who enrolled early and participated in spring camp. True freshman John Rhys Plumlee joined the mix during fall camp and has moved up the depth chart, currently being listed behind Corral as co-backup with Tisdale.
With Corral named the de facto starting quarterback after the spring, it didn’t surprise many people around the Ole Miss football program that he was one of three players making the trip to SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama back in July.
Matt Corral talks with media at SEC Media Days. (Video: Evelyn Van Pelt, The Rebel Walk)
Head coach Matt Luke recognizes and appreciates the leadership shown by his quarterback. “You look at all of the little things. Obviously, he has gotten more comfortable in the system but I think it is the leadership – talking to the receivers, talking to the offensive line and feeling comfortable in that leadership role,” Luke said. “He went out to SEC Media Day and doing all of those little things make a big difference because he was thrust into that role, but I think he has done a good job,” he added.
As for Corral, he understands the importance of leadership, addressing the topic at SEC Media Days.
“I wanted it this way. That’s why I came, that’s part of the reason why I came here. Just being a leader and doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and setting an example for the young ones to come…”
QB Matt Corral on being a leader
After practice this Wednesday, the California native was all business when he took the podium after practice. His answers were concise and to the point. When asked if he enjoys having this team overlooked by the media, Corral smiled and responded simply, “I love it,” and when asked if he has anything to prove, he replied, “turning the Ole Miss program around to where it used to be.”
Although he may be young, Corral absolutely understands the importance of this first contest against Memphis. “This game is going to set the tone,” he said. “We’re going to be ready…we brought it (the energy at practice) up like six notches for sure. It’s game week, it’s here. Everyone has that feeling of more urgency… We are going to go very fast (against Memphis), very fast for sure,” Corral added.
Matt Corral talks with media after practice Wednesday. (Video: Derrell Hart, The Rebel Walk)
We selected Matt Corral as No. 1 on our “Most Impactful Rebels” list because he is going to determine the ceiling of this football team this fall. If he stays poised in the pocket and calm under pressure, the sky is the limit for this team.
How will he react when it’s necessary to complete an intermediate pass on a third-and-seven at the opponent’s 35 yard-line–with 55 seconds on the clock late in the fourth quarter, down by 5, where a field goal isn’t an option? Or, perhaps it’s early in the first half and Corral throws a good throw pass, but the cornerback makes a great play on the ball and takes it to the house for a pick-six….will Corral be able to forget that play and move on?
We have a pretty good idea that Corral will handle the pressure very well. As he said this week when asked if the speed of the SEC surprised him, he smiled and said, “No. I knew what I got myself into.”
Offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez certainly believes in Corral, and you can bet he has prepared his young charge very well for the rigors of the quarterback position and the expectations that go along with it. “Our guys have done as much mentally as I could have hoped at this point,” Rodriguez said.
“Putting pressure on Matt to do a certain amount for our offense seems like a lot, but Matt will be prepared for that mentally.”
OC Rich Rodriguez on Matt Corral
Congratulations to Ole Miss QB Matt Corral and RB Jerrion Ealy for being named to the FWAA Freshman All-America Watch List! #HottyToddy (Photos: Corral-Josh McCoy; Ealy-Hays Dubberly) ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/rpY3gfSHID
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) August 23, 2019
Corral, recently named to the FWAA Preseason All-America Watch List, possesses all the tools to make every throw in Rich Rod’s offense and also has the ability to tuck the ball and run for extra yardage. He reminds me a lot on the field of Chad Kelly — who led his team to a Sugar Bowl for the first time since Archie Manning.
Corral has the capability to take the Rebels far, which makes him our “Most Impactful Player” on the team for 2019.
It all begins with an eleven o’clock kickoff in Memphis tomorrow.
Are you ready?
1. Matt Corral
2. Scottie Phillips
3. MoMo Sanogo
4. Elijah Moore
5. Benito Jones
6. Jaylon Jones
7. Alex Givens
8. Josiah Coatney
9. Ben Brown
10. Lakia Henry
11. Sam Williams
12. Qaadir Sheppard
13. Jacquez Jones
14. Miles Battle
15. Jerrion Ealy
16. Braylon Sanders
17. Eli Johnson
18. Myles Hartsfield
19. Dontario Drummond
20. Jon Haynes
21. Montrell Custis
22. Demarcus Gregory
23. Bryce Mathews
24. Royce Newman
25. Tylan Knight
26. Tariqious Tisdale
27. Octavious Cooley
28. Jalen Julius
29. Luke Logan
30. Nick Broeker
31. Austrian Robinson
32. Quentin Bivens
33. Willie Hibbler
34. Isaiah Woullard
35. Jadon Jackson
36. Grant Tisdale, Kinkead Dent, John Rhys Plumlee
37. Keidron Smith
38. Snoop Conner
39. Michael Howard
40. Vernon Dasher
41. Ryder Anderson
42. D’Vaughn Pennamon
43. C.J. Miller
44. Charles Wiley
45. Sincere David
46. Mac Brown
47. Jason Pellerin
48. Chandler Tuitt
49. Dannis Jackson
50. Jonathan Mingo
Derrell has covered Ole Miss athletics in the past for Rebels247 at 247Sports. He attended Delta State University where he graduated with a B.S. in Biology. He is currently pursuing his Pharm.D. at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy with an expected graduation of May, 2020.