The NCAA’s unremitting investigation is having disastrous consequences on the Ole Miss football program as it churns into its fifth(!) year. The Rebels’ 2017 recruiting class currently has only 10 commits and ranks 61st in the nation, and the specter of sanctions will likely hamper the program’s search for a new defensive coordinator as well. The probe won’t, however, affect the decision of five-star running back Cam Akers.
At least that’s what he says.
“We went over the situation and the scenarios that could happen,” Akers, who recently hosted Hugh Freeze and other Ole Miss coaches for an in-home visit, told the Ole Miss Spirit. “They kind of laid it out for me. I feel comfortable with what could happen. It’s all right. They kind of told me what it was. It don’t make a difference.”
Akers, the top recruit in Mississippi and the No. 4 prospect nationally, also told the Spirit that he’s narrowed his list of schools to three finalists—but refused to reveal who they are. So what are the chances the Rebels made the cut?
Working against Ole Miss might be the fact that Akers recently cancelled his remaining official visits without ever having taken one to Oxford. He was expected on campus two weeks ago for the Egg Bowl but instead trekked to Columbus for Ohio State-Michigan. He was expected again last Saturday, but ended up heading back home to Clinton to celebrate the state championship we won on Friday night.
But not taking an official to Oxford isn’t necessarily bad news for Ole Miss. Akers didn’t take an official to Baton Rouge, either, and LSU is thought by many to be the favorite. It’s also worth noting that Akers, who lives just two and a half hours south of Oxford, has taken a ton of unofficial trips to Ole Miss. Taking another one just because it’s labeled “official” might not have been that important to him—which could be why he elected for more unique ventures like Ohio State-Michigan or the state championship parade in his hometown.
According to 247Sports, Ohio State, Michigan and Florida State are the schools that hosted Akers for an official visit. The Seminoles are looking to replace all-everything dude Dalvin Cook and the Buckeyes are in search of the next Ezekiel Elliott. Both schools offer early playing time at an elite college football program under a championship head coach.
Then there’s LSU. While speaking to the Spirit, Akers called Ed Orgeron “my dude” and said he wouldn’t mind spending a year running behind star sophomore Derrius Guice, who’s expected to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft (Leonard Fournette declared for the 2017 draft earlier this week).
Ole Miss, which loses starter Akeem Judd to graduation and isn’t sure what it has in chronically injured Eric Swinney, can also offer immediate playing time. And unlike the Tigers, the Rebels can offer a promising young quarterback who could help open the field up for the run game. There’s no doubt that Freeze is selling Akers hard on an offense that could feature he, Shea Patterson and slew of young, blue chip receivers.
“That’s definitely attractive,” Akers said. “Having weapons around you as a running back, you always want that. Somebody who can spread the defense out, open the box up a little bit with good receivers and a good quarterback. And they’ve got the same offensive line coming back, I think.
“I definitely got to see (Patterson). He’s definitely real good. I know they don’t want him to run the ball, get him hurt. They want to take a load off of him if they can and bring somebody in who can do the job so they can have a double-threat game.”
If Hugh Freeze can land Akers, the Ole Miss offense has the opportunity to be downright scary. Patterson has already gotten his feet wet in the SEC and showed flashes of being special; the young offensive line got plenty of experience in 2016; and the receiving corps will be made up of former four-stars Damarkus Lodge, Van Jefferson, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Tre Nixon.
For what it’s worth, the 247 Crystal Ball currently has Ole Miss leading the Akers sweepstakes at 30 percent.