After missing on five-star Cam Akers, Ole Miss is sent into scramble mode to try and round out a mediocre 2017 recruiting class that ranks all the way down at 48th in the country. Despite the humongous loss, recruiting is about to really crank up now that Hugh Freeze has rounded out his staff with some big-time recruiters and the dead period is close to being over.
Freeze and Co. may have missed out on the nation’s No. 1 running back, but most, if not all, of the issues in 2016 revolved around a defense that was a shell of its former No. 1 in the nation self a mere two years ago. There are plenty big names left on the board that could fend off a fierce NCAA attack and prepare the new staff for 2017.
Let's take a look at some of the prospects Ole Miss still has a chance of landing between now and Signing Day.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite, click on each croot to see highlights
Overall rank: 65
Offensive guard rank: 2
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The Rebs have missed on five-stars Walker Little and Trey Smith, but Slaton has recently been mentioned as a possible alternative on the O-line. The 6’5, 340-pounder is a bit larger than recent signees, but Phil Longo’s offense puts an emphasis on power run schemes and the Army All-American would be a nice bulldozer to put in the trenches.
Overall rank: 80
Safety rank: 11
Hometown: Plaquemine, La.
Harris has to be one of the top targets for Freeze and Co. in my opinion. Alabama and LSU are the top competition for Harris and new defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff is going to have to work extremely hard for this one. Harris will make his decision at the Under Armour game on January 1st, and the Rebs are among his four favorites.
Overall rank: 111
Outside linebacker rank: 7
Hometown: Starkville, Miss.
The former Ole Miss commit has been all over the place, including an official visit to Ann Arbor. He committed to the Rebs in June, then said that Michigan was his “No. 1 school” before backing off his verbal pledge. Recently-fired staffer Barney Farrar was usually the lead recruiter for the top in-state targets, so it will be interesting to see how his absence affects Gay. It will also be interesting to see how McGriff’s hire affects his decision. The 6’2, 215-pounder will compete in San Antonio at the U.S. Army All American Bowl but his decision will likely come down to Signing Day.
Overall rank: 116
Cornerback rank: 12
Hometown: Dallas, Tex.
The 5’10, 180-pound Texan stepped away from his commitment to Iowa and put Ole Miss in his top three along with Arkansas and Texas. It appears the Rebs now have a slight edge, according to Trent Shadid of SEC Country. In an interview with Scout’s Yancy Porter, Calloway said he likes the Rebs because “it’s a chance for me to play early because they need some more defensive backs... that’s something I look at closely.”
Overall rank: 258
Inside linebacker rank: 11
Hometown: Suwanee, Ga.
Ole Miss commit Josh Clarke has been recruiting Dixon for a while now via Twitter and the former Georgia commit reciprocated with an interesting tweet of his own. His Crystal Ball is currently leaning towards the Rebs over Tennessee and the Dawgs and he would be a big-time get for Freeze and McGriff. Dixon comes from the same high school as the Nkemdiches so there could possibly be a nice pipeline developing there. He will decide during the Under Armour All-American Game and it will be either Louisville or Ole Miss.
Overall rank: 366
Outside linebacker rank: 22
Hometown: Spanish Fort, Ala.
Johnston is considering Arkansas, Auburn, Iowa and UAB (his brother currently plays for the Blazers). So where does Ole Miss fall? “They’re really not that far behind,” Johnston told Scout’s Ben Garrett. “Just knowing that they need linebackers that bad says a lot. I do want the opportunity to play early. They’re not too far behind.”
Overall rank: 382
Inside linebacker rank: 16
Hometown: Plano, Tex.
The Rebs were Sanogo’s first SEC offer earlier this month and it has gotten the Texan’s attention. The 6’2, 239-pound playmaker is committed to Houston, but told Scout’s Greg Powers "I’ve seen how Ole Miss plays and I would fit very well into that defense at ILB. (I'm) excited about this one." On the flip side, Grant Heard was Mohamed’s primary recruiter so his departure could have an effect. Ole Miss is holding a lead according to his Crystal Ball.
Overall rank: 438
Athlete rank: 27
Hometown: Clinton, Miss.
The teammate of Akers has done a lot this season to get away from just being “a teammate of Akers”. The 6’2, 203-pound safety made plays all week during AL-MS All-Star practice and housed a pick-six during the game. The Iowa State commit told Garrett that the Rebs are coming after him hard, saying “they’ve really picked up the heat on me, and they figure me as a great asset to their defense.” He will officially visit Minnesota and Ole Miss next month.
Overall rank: 659
Cornerback rank: 65
Hometown: Jackson, Miss.
Dabney decommitted from Mississippi State this summer and has been mentioning Ole Miss and Cincinnati a lot since. The Callaway High School standout told Rivals.com’s Russell Johnson that the Rebels “are definitely my leaders” after taking in an official visit to Oxford. The 6’1, 170-pound target has been somewhat under the radar but was impressive in Montgomery at the AL/MS game.
Overall rank: 1091
Inside linebacker rank: 46
Hometown: Jackson, Ga.
Burley, a long and athletic playmaker who could play outside or inside, committed to the Demon Deacons back in July but has shown signs of wavering on Twitter and even flashed the fin during his senior year. Now that defensive coordinator Mike Elko is leaving Wake to coach the defense at Notre Dame, the door could be open for an Ole Miss flip.