Mississippi State’s Polk, Ole Miss’ Ealy headed to the NFL

Published 10:57 am Monday, January 3, 2022

One of Mississippi’s breakout college football stars and one of its steadiest hands are both heading to the NFL.

Mississippi State wide receiver Makai Polk and Ole Miss running back Jerrion Ealy both announced Sunday that they will leave school and enter the 2022 NFL draft.

Polk announced his decision in a Twitter post, and Ealy on Instagram.

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Polk only spent one season at Mississippi State after transferring from California, but thrived in coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense.

Polk, a redshirt sophomore, set MSU’s school records for receptions (105) and receiving yards (1,046) this season. He led the Bulldogs with nine touchdown receptions.

Polk became only the fifth player in Southeastern Conference history to catch 100 passes in a season.

Polk is the second offensive star for the Bulldogs to declare for the NFL draft. Offensive tackle Charles Cross did so in December and did not play in the Bulldogs’ 34-7 AutoZone Liberty Bowl loss to Texas Tech.
Polk did play in the Liberty Bowl and caught seven passes for 57 yards.

“I am so thankful and appreciative for (MSU assistant) Coach Steve Spurrier and Coach Mike Leach for giving me the opportunity to play in the SEC with Mississippi State University,” Polk wrote in his announcement. “Also a big shout out to my teammates as I have decided to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft and pursue my next goal and dream of playing at the professional level in the National Football League.”

Ealy was one of Ole Miss’ prized recruits in the Class of 2019, and a key playmaker throughout his time in Oxford. He led the Rebels in rushing in 2020 and 2021, and finished his career with 2,235 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns.

Ealy was also a threat as a receiver and returned kicks, and was an All-SEC running back in 2020. Ealy caught 67 passes for 545 yards and four touchdowns during his career. Including two kick return touchdowns, he had 26 touchdowns in his college career.

Ealy also played on Ole Miss’ baseball team, but redshirted in 2021 and only played in 13 games in 2020 before the season was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To my teammates, who I consider my brothers, this journey has been one that I will remember for the rest of my life and it would not have been possible without each and every one of you,” Ealy wrote. “Together we brought Ole Miss Football back and grew a bond that no one could ever take from us.”

Ealy is projected as a late-round pick, and will be one of several Ole Miss players leaving early for the NFL draft. Quarterback Matt Corral and offensive linemen Ben Brown previously announced they would skip their final college season to turn pro.

Brown, a Vicksburg native, started 40 consecutive games over four seasons before suffering a season-ending arm injury Oct. 16 against Tennessee.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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