After losing four-star outside linebacker commit Willie Gay on Monday, Ole Miss has lost another verbal commitment in the 2017 class. Three-star strong-side defensive end Bryan Jones announced on Twitter Tuesday afternoon that he too was backing out of his verbal commitment to Hugh Freeze.
The Baton Rouge, La. native has been committed since May and has held firm despite the 3-4 start to the season. But, one can imagine that the Rebs’ defensive struggles throughout the year, combined with Jones’ legit offer list, has forced him to reconsider his recruitment. The 6’5, 240-pounder holds big-time offers from the likes of Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas A&M. And lest we forget about the enormous, dark NCAA cloud that has been hanging over Oxford for quite some time that could have been a factor as well. The No. 14 strong-side defensive end favors LSU, Texas and Arkansas according to his crystal ball. And despite not having an offer from the hometown Tigers, they lead the way at 50 percent.
With Jones’ decommitment, Ole Miss now only has one top 100 commit (4-star wide receiver D.D. Bowie), and the Rebs are currently sitting at No. 56 in the nation and No. 13 in the conference. Even worse, Hugh Freeze and company now only have three verbal commitments at the front seven positions, an area that is in dire need of quality depth.
The very tiny slither of silver lining is that this happened in October, not January. This gives Ole Miss ample time to find suitable candidates to fill out this class. They are still in the running for five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, four-star defensive ends Isaiah Buggs, Elijah Conliffe, and LaBryan Ray. And even though they still currently hold commitments from JUCO three-stars Jay Johnson and Markel Winters, the defensive whiffs on the crootin trail are becoming a glaring problem in the Hugh Freeze Era.