Two weeks ago, Mique Juarez announced a top two of Ole Miss and UCLA, sending a jolt of optimism through Rebel Nation. But with an official visit to Tuscaloosa looming next weekend, the five-star linebacker released a top three on Wednesday night -- Bama is suddenly very much in the picture with less than three weeks to National Signing Day.
It's easy to see why the 6'2, 231-pound Juarez is interested in playing for the Tide. Since arriving in T-Town in 2007, Nick Saban has sent five linebackers to the NFL Draft, three of which went in the first round. Reggie Ragland will make it four in April. But the drawback of being loaded at the position is that it limits the chances of immediate playing time. Throw in the fact that Bama could also land five-star linebackers Ben Davis and Lyndell Wilson, and Juarez's chances of seeing the field early dwindle.
Hugh Freeze, meanwhile, can guarantee immediate playing time. The emergence of DeMarquis Gates late in the 2015 season gives the Rebs just one known commodity at linebacker, leaving it among the top three positions of need on the roster. The athletic, versatile Juarez is a perfect fit for an Ole Miss 4-2-5 scheme that asks its backers to cover a lot of ground and frequently drop into pass coverage.
Juarez still seems to have plenty of interest in Ole Miss, mind you. He threw up the Landshark during the Army All-American Bowl and tweeted this the day before he put Bama in his top three.
I want to become the best ... pic.twitter.com/D8Ap8x8cYs— Mique (@miquejuarez3) January 13, 2016
Juarez has already taken his official visit to Oxford, but he could always end up coming back as an unofficial. We'll have a much better sense for where things stand after his visit to Tuscaloosa.
5-star Rashan Gary is visiting USC this weekend
It's long been speculated that the No. 1 prospect in the country is deciding between Michigan and Ole Miss, with SB Nation's Bud Elliott recently predicting the Wolverines as the favorite. USC is still in the race to some degree and will host the blue chip defensive lineman this weekend.
What's interesting about Yancy's tweet is his claim that Gary didn't host any coaches on Wednesday. Because apparently Jim Harbaugh sent one of his guys to New Jersey.
#Michigan coach Chris Partridge will stop by Paramus (N.J.) Catholic tomorrow to check on a few prospects including five-star DT Rashan Gary— Brice Marich (@BriceMarich) January 14, 2016
You can take that for what it's worth. Gary has already taken an official visit to Ann Arbor and plans to return for an unofficial next Thursday, according to ESPN's Tom VanHaaren.
Rebel coaches visited A.J. Brown and Jeffery Simmons
The dead period ended on Thursday, sending the Ole Miss staff scattering to conduct in-home visits across the country. The first stops were reportedly with some of the big names in Mississippi.
A.J. Brown, the four-star wide receiver from Starkville who seems to be deciding between Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, tweeted that he's visiting Tuscaloosa this weekend.
It doesn't hurt Ole Miss' chances that they're in on Brown's high school teammate, four-star defensive lineman Kobe Jones, who seemed excited about Thursday's visit.
Ole Miss Was the first to visit! #HoddyToddy— Kobe Jones (@IAmKobeJones) January 15, 2016
The other two names mentioned on the visit list are four-star linemen Jeffery Simmons and Raekwon Davis. Simmons, the No. 1 player in the state, has Ole Miss in his top five and is one of the most important targets. Davis is a 6'8 monster from Meridian who's been committed to Nick Saban and the Tide since August of 2014.
Ole Miss offers a 2017 QB
Freeze has officially extended his crootin reach to the Central Pacific. Ole Miss has reportedly become the first SEC school to extend a scholly offership to Tua Tagovailoa, a four-star quarterback who plays at the same Hawaiian high school Marcus Mariota attended. Tagovailoa, who's wrapping up his junior year, is a dual-threat guy with some serious moves. But the best part of his tape? THE MUSIC.