Oxford native Jeremy Liggins is perhaps the most highly recruited offensive player to come out of the state of Mississippi this year. Liggins, a 6'3" 270lb (that isn't a typo) quarterback prospect, has the size and athleticism to succeed in the SEC, as well as a stellar winning record at Lafayette County High School which features two back-to-back undefeated, 4A championship winning seasons.
A three/four star prospect, depending on who you ask, Liggins has accounted for 4,800+ passing and 3,500+ rushing yards during his high school career. During this past season, he was responsible for 34 total touchdowns, despite generally playing for no more than three quarters a game. He is being compared to similar, big-bodied quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger, Rohan Davey, and even Tim Tebow, but he doesn't have the throwing ability of a big-time quarterback yet. He is raw, especially by SEC standards, but is loaded with potential.
Liggins has whittled his choices down to Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and LSU. Auburn and Alabama were in the mix here and there but, unless sudden changes occur, this one's a three-way race. Naturally, Rebel fans want and, in many cases, even expect Liggins to sign with Ole Miss. A higher profile quarterback from a high school which can't be more than three miles as a crow flies from the Ole Miss campus? Of course he's going to be draped in the red and blue next fall. He's even making his commitment announcement live on Rebel Sports Radio from the Oxford square's own Irie, so there's no way he wouldn't choose to be a Rebel, right?
Perhaps. But perhaps not. There's reason to be optimistic, but let's be cautious.
Liggins is being very, very heavily recruited by Mississippi State. He really is a Chris Relf 2.0 in a more literal sense of the term. Typically, when people say "so-and-so is a what's-his-face 2.0," what they really mean is that "they're the same," but in computer lingo, 2.0 is a much-needed improvement on version 1.0 - which is exactly what Liggins would be over Relf. He has the size, arm, and feet to do well under coach Dan Mullen, and Liggins knows this.
But then there's LSU's recruitment. Now that high school's #1 quarterback Gunner Kiel has, out of nowhere, decommitted from LSU and enrolled in Notre Dame, the possibility of Liggins committing to LSU has jumped up significantly.
Add to that our coaching staff's current quarterback situation. Returning are three quarterbacks with "experience" running the "offense" of an "SEC football team" in Zack Stoudt, Barry Brunetti, and Randall Mackey. Added to that is the commitments of Junior College All-American Bo Wallace and Tennessee high schooler CJ Beathard. Ole Miss has a bit of a stable of quarterbacks for the fall, even if it is pretty clear to most of us that Wallace is penciled in to start. Is such a situation something which Liggins wouldn't find attractive? To sit or, at best, come in situationally for a few seasons behind Bo Wallace, assuming he's as good as advertised?
While my personal pessimism is getting the better of me regarding Liggins' recruitment, I do feel that he's most likely to end up a Rebel. He's from the area, has been spotted in and about time decked in Ole Miss gear (come on, that has to count for something, right?), and has opted to broadcast his decision from a popular bar on the square live on Rebel Sports Radio. He has also rumored to have enjoyed his brief visits with the new coaching staff, including head coach Hugh Freeze and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner.
Still, the possibility of Liggins saying that he's taking his talents to Oktibbeha County in front of a crowded bar of Rebel partisans - he pulls the hat out from under the table, slowly adjusts the strap, pulls it down on his head, smiles, whips out a cowbell, clangity-clang-clangs it - is a horrifying one. Just imagine the boos that will, on live radio, be rained down upon the guy (and perhaps deservedly). Just imagine the "this is OUR Carribean themed bar and restaurant" banners that will be hung in and about Irie. Just imagine the pouting mixed with the gloating mixed with the booze mixed with the fighting... Oh gosh, it'd be horrible.