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Mississippi has one of the most prolific receivers in the Southeastern Conference though two games.
It's just not the guy the Rebels — or opposing defenses — expected.
Little-known Cody Core has emerged as the premier deep threat for No. 14 Ole Miss (2-0), which is preparing for its home opener against Louisiana-Lafayette (1-1) on Saturday.
The 6-foot-3, 196-pound junior has caught eight passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns this season, giving quarterback Bo Wallace another option next to star sophomores Laquon Treadwell and Evan Engram.
Coach Hugh Freeze said Monday that Core has been a quality player since he arrived on campus in 2012, but was previously stuck behind veteran receivers like Donte Moncrief and Ja-Mes Logan. Now those two are gone and Core's role has expanded.
"I don't think he all the sudden became talented," Freeze said. "It's just time for a kid who has been in the program to step up and have his chance and he's made the most of that chance."
Treadwell came into the season as the Rebels' No. 1 receiver after a stellar freshman year that included a team-high 72 catches. Engram was also a constant threat last fall before an ankle injury ended his season after eight games.
Core had just four catches in 2013 — and was an afterthought in Freeze's first recruiting class in 2012 — but has taken a huge step forward in his third season.
He's shown a knack for big catches downfield and making moves to create more space. His 24.4 yards per catch rank third in the SEC.
"I've always thought he could be a good player for us," Wallace said. "Now it's his opportunity. He's surprised me at how good he is after the catch ... but I've always known he could play ball."
Core's performance has helped offset a relatively slow start for Treadwell, who has caught 11 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Treadwell's received a lot of attention so far from the defense in games against Boise State and Vanderbilt, but the receiver believes that could change soon.
The Rebels have two non-conference games against Louisiana-Lafayette and Memphis sandwiched around a bye week before a showdown against No. 3 Alabama on Oct. 4 in Oxford, Mississippi.
"Most defenses won't have a choice," Treadwell said. "They have to respect all of our other weapons on offense."
The coach said Treadwell's been fine so far this season, but Wallace is doing a good job of reading coverage and finding soft spots in the defense. Five Ole Miss receivers — Treadwell, Engram, Core, Vince Sanders and Quincy Adeboyejo — have at least seven receptions through two games.
Wallace has completed 48 of 66 passes this season (72.7 percent) for 707 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions this season. He said he hopes to get Treadwell more involved on Saturday against the Ragin' Cajuns, but will continue to take what the defense provides.
Freeze said Wallace played a nearly flawless game during last weekend's 41-3 victory over Vanderbilt.
"Just because Laquon doesn't catch a ball doesn't mean he's not doing his part," Freeze said. "Several of the big plays Cody has had, Laquon has required (extra coverage) and it's opened up some other things on the field."
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