Inside man: How Ole Miss football DE Jared Ivey is preparing for reunion vs. Georgia Tech

Nick Suss
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

OXFORD − There are no secrets left in college football, especially not in the transfer portal era.

No. 17 Ole Miss football (2-0) visits Georgia Tech (1-1) in Atlanta on Saturday (2:30 p.m., ABC) in a nonconference showdown between seeming strangers. The Rebels and Yellow Jackets haven't played since the 2013 Music City Bowl and haven't met in the regular season since 1971. Despite sharing a conference for more than three decades, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech have played only four times, and never in Oxford.

These schools don't share a history. They cross paths every couple of presidential administrations and sometimes show up together in TV broadcast trivia questions as founding members of the SEC.

But heading into this weekend's game, the Rebels and Yellow Jackets share one very important trait. These teams were built with the transfer portal. Coaches Lane Kiffin and Geoff Collins tied this offseason for the second-most transfers signed among Power Five teams with 17 apiece.

With this much roster turnover, it's almost inevitable that the teams have players who know the other program pretty well. Georgia Tech has four transfers from SEC schools. Ole Miss has two transfers from ACC schools.

One of those transfers happens to be defensive end Jared Ivey. Ivey defected from Georgia Tech to Ole Miss this offseason, creating a bizarre situation where the Rebels have a former Yellow Jackets player helping the team prepare for what the Yellow Jackets like to do.

Ivey grew up about 30 miles north of Georgia Tech's campus. He cherishes his time playing for his hometown school. But he put his name in the transfer portal this offseason looking for a better opportunity to further his playing career. At Ole Miss, he's found one. In two games, Ivey has 1.5 sacks, already matching his career high from a season ago.

Now, he's back at his old stomping grounds. Given the landscape of modern college football, Ivey understands he's not exactly playing against the same team he played for last fall.

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"They know that I used to play there and play in this scheme and I’m at a school that they’re playing," Ivey said. "So they’re not going to come in and run all the stuff that they ran while I was there. It’s crazy. I don’t think any team in the country with transfers would do that. Everybody makes adjustments. They had a whole offseason to prepare and adjust what they need to adjust in order to compete. So I assume that’s what they’re doing."

Ivey has spent the week downplaying the importance of this game. Fellow defensive lineman JJ Pegues said he hasn't heard Ivey bring up his history with this week's opponent, but has instead practiced with a quiet intensity that Pegues said he's never seen from his new teammate.

Matchups like this one are becoming unavoidable in college football. When Ole Miss plays Kentucky on Oct. 1, it'll face former starting Rebels defenders Keidron Smith and Jacquez Jones. When the Rebels visit Vanderbilt on Oct. 8, they'll bring former Commodores safety Dashaun Jerkins. Pegues and safety Ladarius Tennison will play their former school, Auburn, a week later on Oct. 15. And the Egg Bowl on Nov. 24 will be a reunion game for current Ole Miss and former Mississippi State wide receiver Malik Heath.

Ivey said he's pitching in his "two cents" wherever he can this week. If someone asks about Georgia Tech's scheme or home atmosphere or playing surface, he'll give an answer. But he knows his former coaches are too sophisticated to run a game plan he's 100% familiar with.

So instead of trying to outsmart his former team on the way to victory, Ivey is focusing on doing the things he does best and hoping his new teammates can do the same.

"It’s a very fun environment to play in," Ivey said. "I enjoyed playing there. I loved it and I loved my guys. They had some really die-hard fans who would really ride for us and one of the coolest entrances in college football. I think we’re going to go there and do what we do."

Contact Nick Suss at nsuss@gannett.com. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicksuss.