The Rebels are sitting on fifteen commitments for the 2011 football signing class. I know that we'll probably end up signing 28 players and seeing which ones qualify, but assuming that we only sign 25 (since that's how many can go on scholarship each year), we're left with ten spots. I've been asked about recruiting by several people and started compiling a list the other day of who I'd like to see us sign. What follows is a list of the ten players I want, listed alphabetically, that Ole Miss has at least a decent shot to add in February.
1. DT Terry Bell - 6'5" 270 lbs. - Lakeland High School - Lakeland, FL
Ponder this. Our entire two deep at defensive tackle this season will graduate (or at least finish eligibility) in May of 2011. We have to find replacements for the phenomenal defensive tackles that all leave after this final season of eligibility. Bell could be one of the answers to that problem. He was rumored to be moments away from committing to the Rebels a few weeks ago, and pulling him out of Florida would be a fantastic get at this time. Bell has offers from many schools, namely Auburn, Florida State, and Georgia. He has attended camp at Ole Miss.
2. HB Mike Blakely - 5'9" 194 lbs. - Manatee High School - Bradenton, FL
Blakely would be an elite signee out of Florida, and while I don't think we're likely to get him, that's not the purpose of this list. This list discusses prospects that have shown some legitimate interest in Ole Miss that could really improve an already good class. Blakely is the type of halfback we don't seem to have on roster: a flashy runner with great speed who can make defenders miss. He has a Florida offer, so I wouldn't count on us having a chance with him, but you never know with that area of the country. We've seen our stock rise to Floridians, and I guess it could happen with Blakely.
3. WR/CB Nickolas Brassell - 6'0" 175 lbs. - South Panola High School - Batesville, MS
Nickolas Brassell is incredible. He's six feet tall and super fast. When he gets to Ole Miss (and yes.... he will come to Ole Miss), there's going to be a fight between Nutt and Nix as to which side of the ball Brassell will play on for the Rebels. Houston Nutt generally wins those competitions (see: Jesse Grandy, Tim Simon, Terrell Grant, Derrick Herman, Jared Mitchell), and that's probably for the best in this situation. We need a young dynamic receiver right now much more than we need a young lockdown corner. I know that may seem crazy to some of you, but our cornerback recruiting under Chris Vaughn has been off the charts. We have two promising redshirt freshmen on campus in Charles Sawyer and Ryan Campbell (both likely to play in Nickel and Dime packages respectively this year) and recently stole two corners from Miami and Florida State in Cliff Coleman and Tony Grimes. Oh, and we're bringing in Andrew Johnson and Senquez Golson already. I've never been able to say this about an Ole Miss team as far as I can remember, but I'm not concerned with the cornerback position's future. Still, lord knows we need some receivers. Brassell is excellent off the line and really would add a lot to our receiving corps.
4. WR/ATH Damiere Byrd - 5'9" 156 lbs. - Timbercreek High School - Sicklercreek, NJ
Two things you need to know about Byrd: first, he reached out to our coaches instead of the other way around. He personally contacted them and told them he was interested in the school. Second, he fashions himself (and somewhat justifiably) as the next Dexter McCluster. We have some things working against us, namely his offer from Florida, but it has to be a good sign that he reached out to us. Byrd's video is should cause some jaws to drop (well, not really. When does that happen?). His straight-line speed is uncanny, and he shows the ability to change direction effortlessly. I would absolutely love to have him on our team. I'm not sure that he could ever line up as a traditional halfback like Dexter ended up doing, but we could certainly use a player like him in the wild rebel. Speed like that is nice to have on the field.
5. DE Anthony Chickillo - 6'3" 226 lbs. - Alonso High School - Tampa, FL
Everyone in the country wants Chickillo. He sports offers from many schools, the best of which are probably Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC, and Virginia Tech. Recently, Chickillo visited Ole Miss with a group of Floridians and told ESPN that he absolutely loved the campus and the atmosphere in Oxford. Looking at his offer list, we're certainly a long shot, but getting him to campus is the first step, and that apparently went quite well. Defensive end recruiting for this year scares me a good bit, since I am a large proponent of replacing graduates with freshmen, and we don't look to be in on many ends to replace the huge loss of Kentrell Lockett. Yes, we have a lot of young ends that are promising, but we need to find at least one more defensive end who can come in and really solidify the unit.
6. TE Cameron Clear - 6'6" 225 lbs. - Central High School - Memphis, TN
Clear plays another position that is important for us to strengthen on our roster. Consider this, after this season, our scholarship tight ends on roster will be Ferbia Allen and Zaccheus Mason. While both have done things to show promise, two tight ends are simply not enough. Clear hasn't shown much interest in us, not naming the Rebels in his most recent top three, but he has been to campus, and the Rebel staff is apparently quite interested in him, asking current commitment T.J. Worthy to call Clear and recruit him. I don't think we're out of this.
7. QB Phillip Ely - 6'1" 185 lbs. - Plant High School - Tampa, FL
When I first heard that I should keep an eye on Ely (I knew before you did because I have sources and you don't. That makes me much cooler than you.), I thought two things. First of all, Ely's game looks pretty good; He's not incredible, but he's better than average in terms of film. But equally as important, Plant is a quarterback production mill into which we need to get. Robert Marve, Aaron Murray, and now Ely are three consecutive four-star quarterback recruits who have played there. Sure, Marve ended up being not-so-good, but there were good things about his game. The overarching point here is that the staff has done a good job of getting Florida's scraps, but we need to get a few more legit players from there to increase our chances of finally being able to actually sign someone the University of Florida wants. We already steal recruits from Miami and Florida State, but we can't seem to get over the hurdle that the Gators pose. In terms of the position, I don't think I'm shocking anyone when I say that we need quarterbacks. Ely is rumored to be heavily leaning towards LSU, but I would guess (from having basically no knowledge whatsoever) that his decision rests on whether potential LSU quarterback Zach Lee decides to sign a contract to play professional baseball. If Lee does that, Ely's a tiger. If not, he might be a Clemson Tiger or an Ole Miss Rebel.
8. DT Jonathan Jenkins - 6'4" 340 lbs. - Gulf Coast Community College - Perkinston, MS
Again, we lose our four best defensive tackles this season to graduation. It's important that we bring in a few guys who have a shot at playing immediately. Jenkins, a potential December graduate, certainly has the size necessary for the SEC. It's difficult to tell anything about his actual game with no video on Rivals and only three clips on Scout, but to quickly summarize, he's double-teamed on every play, and he generally gets through anyway. That's the best thing you can see on a defensive tackle's video, but it doesn't really say much anyway. More than anything, he has a good list of offers and is a dire need. He's good friends with Wayne Dorsey, and you have to think the Rebels lead at this time. What junior college defensive tackle wouldn't want to play here? The playing time opportunity is uncanny if nothing else.
9. OT Aaron Morris - 6'5" 310 lbs. - Callaway High School - Jackson, MS
Morris plays a major position of need and is the best offensive lineman in the state of Mississippi. Morris apparently plans to commit before the season begins, and Ole Miss, from all accounts, is where he is leaning. Teammate Justin Bell is also a talented offensive lineman and will most likely commit to the same school as Morris. If we manage to get commitments from both, that would probably complete our offensive line recruiting unless an incredible player surfaced with interest in the Rebs.
10. WR Tobias Singleton - 6'2" 187 lbs. - Madison Central High School - Madison, MS
Singleton is a monster with offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Oklahoma, and many other schools. He's a combination of speed and height that we don't currently have on campus. Singleton appears to have narrowed his choices to Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but I personally have been told by several people who would know that Tobias is likely to end up at Ole Miss. Maybe something has changed or will change, but enough different people with knowledge of the guy have told me he'll end up at Ole Miss ofr me to feel confident that he will. Singleton (combined with Brassell who is listed above) will put the finishing touches on an incredible receiver class. Also, he currently attends Ghost's alma mater, so I guess he's got that going for him.