On the arm of quarterback Jaxson Dart, the Ole Miss Rebels are tenth in the country and sitting pretty at 7-1 this season. However, Dart did not begin his career at Ole Miss. Dart started with the USC Trojans, almost 2,000 miles away.
What made him transfer away from the West Coast he had spent his entire life?
What Made Jaxson Dart Transfer to Ole Miss?
Dart committed to play for the USC Trojans and early enrolled in the spring of 2021. A top-ten quarterback recruit in the country out of Utah, Dart graduated a semester early to get on campus and ready to play as soon as he could.
Dart initially sat behind Kedon Slovis on the USC depth chart, but when Slovis was hurt early that season, it was Dart who emerged to start behind him. Dart suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss four games that year, but he returned to action to close out the year.
As a freshman amidst a chaotic season, Dart threw for 1,353 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions in six games. However, the Trojans went 4-8 that season and the coaching staff, led by Clay Helton, was fired.
MORE: SEC QB Rankings
USC hired Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma soon after, a coach whose open secret was that quarterback Caleb Williams would follow him to USC, and Dart saw the writing on the wall.
It was hard for Dart to leave though. In an interview with All Trojans, a Sports Illustrated site covering USC, Dart cited the connections he made at USC as the hardest part of his decisions.
“Just the bonds and connections I made…my teammates, my friends. Leaving those guys was hard. But it was what was best for me to achieve my goals for the future.”
Why Dart Chose Ole Miss
Dart sought out a place that would be a fit for him on a personal and football level. When the Ole Miss offer hit, it was a natural fit.
Lane Kiffin’s quarterback-friendly offense naturally appealed to him. Kiffin’s up-tempo offense and his ability to put quarterbacks in the NFL (Matt Corral went on to be a third-round pick). Dart’s visit and interaction with the fans made his decision certain. Still, Dart visited other schools like Oklahoma before committing to Ole Miss.
So far, it’s hard to argue it hasn’t worked out for Dart with the Rebels. After throwing for 2,974 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2022, Dart’s 2023 has been just as productive. In eight games this year, Dart has passed for 2,080 yards and 14 touchdowns while tacking on 326 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
Dart has the Rebels in the top ten and is poised to make a run for the SEC Championship. Dart’s NFL stock will face a big test when the Rebels take on Georgia in Week 11. For now, Dart is enjoying his success with his new team in sole command of the offense.