Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we will be breaking down the pieces that made this signing class arguably the best Ole Miss signing class in school history. We'll throw in highlight videos whenever we can find them and will try to examine what we see with our biased, untrained eyes. With media and sports fans all over the country talking about Ole Miss recruits, it is our hope to generate some discussion about those recruits who didn't have four or five stars next to their names. Our second installment will cover the running backs, where we'll get an early look at the guys who'll tote the rock for Ole Miss in 2013 and beyond.
Eugene Brazley - 3* - 5'10", 175 - Other notable offers: Arizona State, Tennessee
Brazley was one of Freeze’s earliest commitments for 2013, though he apparently considered overtures from a couple of other schools, mainly Arizona State. Brazley’s GW Carver Rams competed in Lousiana’s 2A class, with an enrollment in the 850 range. Not the highest level of competition, but not terrible either, and Brazley appears to shoulder much of the load for the Rams, rushing for over 1,100 yards, with another 300 receiving and 21 TDs.
Brazley has a small-ish frame, but electric speed and acceleration. He has a nice stop-start move in traffic, breaks ankle tackles well, and appears to have good vision cutting against the grain to get upfield. It seems possible that Brazley will be considered for a switch to cornerback, but his skills certainly warrant a long look on offense.
Mark Dodson jr. - 4* - 5'10", 193 - Other notable offers: Texas, Oklahoma State, Arkansas
As a Parade All-American, Shelby County's all-time rushing leader (in 6A competition, no less), and a Spring enrollee, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about Mark Dodson. He rushed for almost 3,300 yards and 37 TDs THIS YEAR, including a 318 yard, 5 td performance in the 6A title game. There are reasons to compare him to DeAngelo Williams, though that's extremely optimistic; he's a little bigger and stronger than you might give him credit for, makes great moves in traffic, has a really nice stiff-arm, and can really make himself smaller to slip through gaps. His 40 time is listed as 4.7 pretty much everywhere; that's a little odd, as he frequently appears to leave defenders in the dust. It seems worth noting though, that Dodson will have a slightly different skill set than Jeff Scott or Jaylen Walton. Even so, it's really hard to speculate what his impact might be for next year, with those two, plus I'Tavius Mathers already in the rotation.
Kailo Moore - 4* - 5'10" 180 - Other notable offers: Alabama, Vanderbilt, MSU
Kailo Moore: After committing to Houston Nutt, then Dan Mullen, the most dynamic offensive player in Mississippi ended his recruitment by committing to Hugh Freeze a month ago. Apparently, we'll have to trust the coaches' evaluations on Kailo, as there are clearer videos of Bigfoot than Kailo Moore. What is well-documented is his pure speed; Moore is one of the fastest high schoolers in the country in both the 100 and 200 meter; he'll continue to compete in Track and Field at Ole Miss. There is some speculation that Moore might not be a traditional running back, but a slot guy who gets gadget carries. That said, I'm sure he'll have the chance to earn a spot in the backfield if he really is great with the ball in his hands. Below is a highlight video that may in fact be a series of sketches turned into a flipbook.
Jordan Wilkins - 4* - 6'1" 210 - Other notable offers: Michigan, Nebraska, Arkansas, Auburn
One of the biggest voids in the Ole Miss offense last year was the power run game. Though Jeff Scott and Bo Wallace both had success running up the middle, 3rd or 4th and inches was a treacherous down and distance for the Rebels. Though we'll never know exactly how the process went down, Ole Miss lost or cut ties with long-time commitment Peyton Barber and almost immediately picked up Wilkins. Both guys are bigger backs, though Wilkins is taller, lighter, and faster than Barber. Whether that's ideal for Freeze's purposes remains to be seen, but Wilkins' video seems to indicate that he has a lot of speed and open-field ability for a larger back. His skill set seems much like that of I'Tavius Mathers, so it will be interesting to see what his contribution will be, especially early on. I suppose it's even an outside possibility that Wilkins could gain some weight and move to linebacker, though with Barber's departure, that seems even less likely. Although Wilkins is a 4 star prospect (no. 9 in Tennessee, no. 20 amongst running backs), he might have been ranked even higher had his senior season not been cut short by a knee injury. Wilkins has reportedly recovered completely, and is a dynamic player for his high school basketball team this season.
Freeze has reason to be very pleased with this running backs class; there is some star power there, and a wide array of skill sets. Holding on to Peyton Barber certainly would've given Ole Miss a bit more confidence in addressing the power run game, but the staff did a great job of filling his spot. Running back can be a tricky position to recruit. High profile guys don't pan out, and give way to guys like Jeff Scott or Brandon Bolden. The great thing about Freeze is that there are a lot of carries to go around, and he puts guys in a position to succeed.