Ole Miss just missed on its savior at the linebacker position. Five-star Mique Juarez, rated as the top backer in the country by the 247Sports composite, announced he plans to sign with UCLA over Ole Miss and Bama.
As well as the Rebel coaches recruited Juarez, prying the California native away from his home state Bruins was always a tall task.
"It's really tough to pull kids off the West Coast," SB Nation recruiting director Bud Elliott told me a couple weeks ago. "Culturally it's very different."
With C.J. Johnson, Denzel Nkemdiche and Christian Russell gone, Ole Miss is impossibly thin at linebacker heading into 2016. Demarquis Gates, who flourished after Nkemdiche was booted from the team in late November, returns to hold down one of the linebacking spots in the Rebs' 4-2-5 defense, but options are thin at the other. Juarez, who's versatility and athleticism make him a perfect fit for Dave Wommack's defensive scheme, would have been an immediate competitor for one of the starting gigs.