Hugh Freeze refers to his tenure at Ole Miss as a "journey."
Suffice it to say the journey has moved at a quicker pace than even Freeze could have imagined.
A Mississippi native, inspirational leader and one of the nation's top rising coaches, Freeze was the first choice to return championships to Ole Miss Football and was introduced as the Rebels' 37th head coach on December 5, 2011.
In the time since Freeze inherited a program coming off a two-win season and 14 straight Southeastern Conference losses, the Rebels have made four straight bowl appearances and won three of them. The team's win total under Freeze has risen as consistently as possible - from seven in 2012 to eight in 2013, nine in 2014 to 10 last season.
Freeze is the first coach in school history to guide the Rebels to a bowl game in each of his first four seasons, including wins in the BBVA Compass, Music City and Sugar. Ole Miss is one of five programs in the country (along with Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State and Ohio State) to make consecutive New Year's Six bowl appearances in the first two years of the College Football Playoff system.
Head coach Hugh Freeze tabbed Phil Longo, engineer of the nation's best FCS offense at Sam Houston State, as the Rebels' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on December 16, 2016.
Longo helped Sam Houston to the FCS Playoffs in each of his three seasons, while shattering the record books. The 2016 team went 12-1 and boasted the nation's No. 1 total offense (547.3 ypg), No. 2 scoring offense (49.5 ppg), No. 2 passing offense (368.3 ypg) and No. 37 rushing offense (179.0 ypg) out of 122 FCS teams. The Bearkats scored touchdowns on 80.3 percent of their red zone chances, also best in the nation.
Sam Houston had more than 4,500 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards in 2016. No FBS team accomplished that.
Wesley McGriff, a highly respected leader, defensive coach and dynamic recruiter, returned to Ole Miss for his second stint on Hugh Freeze's staff when he was tabbed defensive coordinator on December 16, 2016.
McGriff returns to Ole Miss after gaining valuable experience at the NFL level with the New Orleans Saints and as Auburn's co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach.
In his one season at Auburn, McGriff helped guide the Tigers to a Sugar Bowl berth and helped turn around a defense that struggled during a 7-6 season (2-6 SEC) the year before he arrived.
Tight Ends/Recruiting Coordinator For Offense
Maurice Harris returned to Ole Miss with Hugh Freeze as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator for offense on Dec. 8, 2011. This marks Harris' second stop at Ole Miss as he served as the Assistant Athletics Director for Internal Football Operations for the Rebels in 2006.
Harris has helped develop Evan Engram into one of the best tight ends in school history and among the best in the nation right now. Engram has proven to be a mismatch for opposing defenses and a difference-maker with the ball in his hands. His 97 career catches and 1,394 receiving yards are the most all-time by an Ole Miss tight end, while his seven touchdowns are tied for fifth-most.
As a unit last year, the tight ends helped the Ole Miss offense surge to school records in nearly every major total offense and passing category, while topping the SEC and ranking top 10 nationally in scoring (40.8), total offense (517.8 ypg) and passing (334.7 ypg).
In his fourth season as Ole Miss' co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach, Jason Jones boasts an admirable streak of football success.
In his 12 seasons as a college coach, his teams have made a bowl game appearance every year, including the Rebels' 2013 Music City Bowl berth, 2014 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl berth and 2016 Sugar Bowl berth.
In 2015, Jones assisted in coordinating a Rebel defense that returned four interceptions for touchdowns, including a pick-six by cornerback Tony Bridges in the Egg Bowl. The four pick-sixes tied a school record that dates back to 1938. In total, Ole Miss ranked second in the SEC with 15 interceptions and third with 23 turnovers throughout the 2015 season.
Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
Ole Miss alum Matt Luke is in his fifth season as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach on Hugh Freeze's staff and ninth season overall.
Since returning to Oxford in 2012, Luke has helped the Rebels earn a bowl berth and increase their win total each year, culminating with a 10-3 record and Sugar Bowl victory to cap the 2015 season.
Luke's offensive line paved the way for the Rebels to have a record-breaking year on that side of the ball. Ole Miss set program records for scoring (531), touchdowns (68), total offense (6,731), passing yards (4,351) and passing touchdowns (35), among others. The Rebels led the SEC and were top 10 nationally in scoring (40.8), total offense (517.8 ypg) and passing (334.7 ypg).
Derrick Nix is in his ninth year as Ole Miss' running backs coach and fifth as a member of Hugh Freeze's staff.
At Ole Miss, Nix has tutored four of the most productive backs in school history in Dexter McCluster, Brandon Bolden, Jeff Scott and Jaylen Walton, while the Rebels have ranked top three in the SEC in rushing twice.
With a variety of running backs with different styles and strengths at his disposal, Nix helped the 2015 Ole Miss squad lead the SEC and rank top-10 nationally in scoring (40.8), total offense (517.8 ypg) and passing (334.7 ypg). The Rebels eclipsed 600 yards of total offense in three games, a school record, and more than 200 yards rushing in six contests.
Head coach Hugh Freeze turned to a Mississippi native and fast-rising star in the coaching profession with the hiring of Jacob Peeler as wide receivers coach, Jan. 11, 2017.
A dynamic on-field coach and top recruiter, Peeler served the last four seasons on the staff at Cal. He was a graduate assistant in 2013-14 before being promoted to assistant coach for inside receivers in 2015.
The Kosciusko native helped turn Cal's offense into one of the nation's best, as the Golden Bears ranked top 10 in passing offense, top 15 in total offense and top 25 in scoring offense for three straight seasons.
Bradley Dale Peveto
Linebackers Coach/Special Teams Coord.
Head coach Hugh Freeze hired Bradley Dale Peveto to serve as the Rebels' linebackers coach and special teams coordinator on Dec. 23, 2016. Peveto comes to Oxford following his second stint as a member of the LSU coaching staff. Overall, he spent seven seasons with the Tigers. With Peveto on staff, LSU posted a 59-19 mark and won five bowl games, including the 2007 BCS national championship.
Peveto re-joined the LSU staff for the 2014 season after serving as the special teams coordinator and safeties coach for Kentucky in 2013. Prior to that, Peveto was the head coach at Northwestern State University for four years.
In Peveto's six years as LSU's special teams coordinator, the Tigers scored 11 special teams touchdowns and blocked six kicks.
In 2016, Peveto oversaw LSU special teams and also coached outside linebackers on defense, two units he will lead at Ole Miss. His special teams defense ranked among the best in the SEC as the Tigers were second in punt return defense and third in kick return defense. He coached first team All-American Tre'Davious White, who was sixth in the conference in punt return yards and one of four SEC players to return a punt for a touchdown.