Hugh Freeze and his staff just got an enormous -- and to be frank, startling -- commitment from four-star wideout A.J. Brown, who picked Ole Miss over Alabama and hometown Mississippi State in a National Signing Day announcement ceremony. The fact that Brown, the fifth best wideout in the country and the third best player in the 247Sports composite rankings, is from Starkville makes his decision that much sweeter.
UPDATE: His LOI is in.
Not that Brown's commitment is entirely out of left field, mind you. Hugh Freeze and Co. have put in a lot of work on Brown, who is also good friends with long-time Ole Miss receiver commit DeKaylin Metcalf. After that pair earned co-MVP honors in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game back December, Brown sent a foretelling tweet suggesting the two could end up being teammates in college.
"I was going to stay [in Starkville], but I felt like they didn't do a good job of recruiting," Brown told The Clarion-Ledger after his announcement. "I didn't feel wanted."
Brown, who's other offers came from Auburn, California, Florida, LSU, Texas and Southern Cal, caught 83 passes for 1,371 yards and 13 touchdowns while leading Starkville High to a 6A state championship as a senior.
He also confirmed to The Daily Mississippian that he'll play for the Ole Miss baseball team.
How does he fit in?
It'll be interesting to see how soon Brown sees the field. On one hand, Damore'ea Stringfellow, Quincy Adeboyejo, Markell Pack, Damarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson fill out an already loaded receiving corps. On the other hand, Brown is really freaking good at football. He's every bit of 6'2, 220-pounds and can easily handle press coverage on the outside, but also has the quicks to shake folks in the slot. A.J. does a great job at the top of his routes, coming out of his breaks with power and drives towards the football. He also shows impressive hand strength when gathering the catch away from his body.
If all of that sounds Laquon Treadwell-esque, it's because their games are pretty damn similar. As such, Brown should immediately challenge for playing time.
But let's look ahead a bit. When Shea Patterson takes over at quarterback in 2017, he could be throwing to the following receiving corps:
- 2014 four-star Markell Pack
- 2015 four-star Damarkus Lodge
- 2015 four-star Van Jefferson
- 2016 four-star A.J. Brown
- 2016 four-star D.K. Metcalf
- 2016 four-star Tre Nixon