Over the past few recruiting seasons, it was obviously important for us to sign some quality offensive linemen due to Ed Orgeron's inability to sign the numbers necessary up front. While Nutt has brought in a decent number already, we barely had enough to even field a two-deep, much less a two-deep of any quality whatsoever.
It was imperative to sign at least five offensive linemen in this class, considering that we lost three linemen to graduation and were already short in the first place.
While I wanted to see a better class, I think it was good that we brought in some big guys to compete at the position. While there isn't really a marquee name weighed down with stars, there will be five more offensive linemen on campus than were here last year. Some of them appear to be legitimate SEC talent, whereas others seem to be depth builders.
Chase Hughes - OG/OC - 6'3" 290 lbs. - Springville, Alabama
Hughes is already enrolled at Ole Miss and will participate in spring practice. That's a fantastic development in his recruitment, considering that the Rebels are in dire need of a Center. Hughes elevates a little too quickly for my taste, but that may not be as big an issue at Center as it was in high school where he played RG and RT. Honestly, I wasn't the least bit enthusiastic about this commitment until Hughes picked up offers from Florida State and Auburn. It helps me build up silly expectations for a guy if other teams supposedly wanted him too.
Other notable offers: Florida State, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Stanford
Jared Duke - OT - 6'6" 325 lbs. - Cleveland, Tennessee
Duke is the offensive line signee with which I am the least happy. Of course, that doesn't mean he'll turn out bad, but I don't think there's any reason to expect Duke will significantly contribute at Ole Miss. His highlight tape features tons of pancake blocks against opposing defensive ends who weigh 175 pounds. It's just not that impressive. Considering his lack of significant offers, I'm finding it difficult to be thrilled with his signing. I will say that, if his reported 6'6" is legitimate, he has an excellent frame upon which to build.
Other notable offers: Louisville
Terrence Hackney - OT - 6'7" 320 lbs. - Chatham, Virginia (Hargrave)
Hackney isn't all that exciting either, but he appears to fire out of his stance with a little more fluidity than Duke. In his highlight film (which is short), he does a good job of staying low. At Hargrave, Hackney played right tackle as the replacement to now-Rebel Bobby Massie. The only reason I'm not upset about this signing is that he looks to have held his own against college competition at Hargrave which is actually a fairly significant barometer for success at the next level. Also, he's reportedly gigantic.
Other notable offers: Mississippi State?
Evan Swindall - C - 6'3" 295 lbs. - La Fayette, Georgia
As a point of clarification, Swindall did not sign with the Rebels in 2010. He actually signed with us in 2009 but was asked to grayshirt, sitting out for the fall. He was able to practice with the team during bowl preparation, and he is on campus and ready to participate in the Spring. Swindall represented the Unites States in the Junior World Championships of football last summer. That team posted 410 yards against Canada's all-star team in the finals. I know that football isn't a world-wide sport, so that's not too impressive, but I think it's important to discuss why Swindall was selected. The coaching staff went after players that were coachable and would pick up on their scheme quickly. The fact that they chose Evan as their center may be a good sign for his chance to win the starting job this fall. Daverin Geralds' best quality as a center was his ability to understand the scheme and help the rest of the line fall in line. As most of you know, the center has to be the leader of the line, and having someone who knows what's going on (read: not Corey "walking snap infraction" Actis) is really helpful there.
Other notable offers: None
Matt Hall - OT - 6'10" 330 lbs. - Russellville, Arkansas
Again, Matt Hall didn't sign with the Rebels in 2010. In fact, he has never signed with the Rebels. Hall, a highly decorated left tackle prospect from Arkansas, had his choices narrowed down to Arkansas and Ole Miss when Houston Nutt switched jobs. Eventually, Hall signed with Arkansas, but it was close. After a redshirt year and a year of little legitimate playing time, Hall wanted out of Fayetteville and decided to transfer to Ole Miss. When Bobby Petrino would not release him to an SEC school, Hall decided to pay his own way at Ole Miss for his first year instead of accepting a scholarship offer at Missouri. Yes. That means that we're getting a 4-star 6'10" left tackle to walk on at Ole Miss. Crazy, I know. This is what happens when you have a coach for which players love to play. It's no coincidence that the Rebels are taking as many as ten invited walk-ons this year. Our coach is respected around the Southeast despite what the wackies in Springdale have to say.
Other notable offers: Arkansas, Missouri
As you can see, no single signee is really that impressive. Certainly, this part of the signing class isn't the jewel, but it's good to see that we were able to bring in five players to build a solid offensive line. We've seen Markuson do a good job with the progression of offensive linemen. With time, and some added personnel, I think our line will once again be a significant strength.