With National Signing Day and the whiffs on the defensive side of the ball in their rearview mirror, Hugh Freeze and his staff are already back to work for 2017. 247Sports' David Johnson reports that junior college defensive end Markel Winters has committed to Ole Miss almost immediately after being extended an offer. The 6'3, 260-pound strong-side defensive end from Tallahassee, Fla. and Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. will bring the quality depth to Dave Wommack's Landshark defense.
When Winters was coming out of high school in the 2014 class, he was a 6'3, 225-pound two-star form Rickards High School who would eventually sign with East Carolina. His other offers were Marshall, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, UMass, UCF and Western Kentucky. After redshirting at ECU, he chose to transfer to Jones County Community College where he recorded 33 tackles, five sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Yahtzee!! #SIPBOYZ17 off to a good start.— Hugh Freeze (@CoachHughFreeze) February 10, 2016
Winters told Johnson of 247Sports,"I was just waiting on the Ole Miss coaches to come in and start recruiting me...they've been committed to recruiting me, and I liked that". Winters' primary recruiters were defensive line coach Chris Kiffin and Barney Farrar, Ole Miss' assistant A.D. for High School & Junior College Relations. Farrar, as you might remember from the 2016 class, was instrumental in the recruitment of A.J. Brown and Benito Jones.
How does he fit in?
Winters will have two years to play two according to Johnson so you have to think that the Rebels are going to want to fast track him to some playing time. The first-team All-MACJC South Division and All-Region 23 performer will look to enroll early at Ole Miss to get in and get a headstart on his conditioning to prepare for an early role on Coach Kiffin's d-line. Markel reminds me of former Rebel All-American C.J. Johnson. He is a former linebacker who now puts his hand in the dirt and can exploit offensive linemen in one-on-one situations because of his quickness and initial burst off the ball.
Because the Rebels missed on five-stars Jeffery Simmons and Jonathan Kongbo, look for them to add several early enrollees like Winters due to the fact that they can count him back towards the 2016 class. Winters will join 2016 four-star signee Charles Wiley and will be looking to make an impact rather quickly. With some added strength and refined technique, he could be quite the replacement for Fadol Brown after his departure.