Ole Miss recruiting got a big boost two weeks ago with the commitment of four-star linebacker Breon Dixon (who enrolled earlier this week), but that still leaves the Rebels’ 2017 class ranked 46th in the country. With less than two weeks left before National Signing Day, Hugh Freeze has major ground to gain.
That starts this weekend, when the Rebels host a group of prospects headlined by four-star Memphis running back Cordarrian Richardson, who could help soften the blow of Cam Akers’ Florida State commitment. Next weekend’s visit list will have more star power, but the group assembling in Oxford over the next couple of days contains some important names.
Below is the list of visitors compiled by Scout.com and crosschecked against Twitter by us. Keep in mind that this list is fluid; some of these guys won't show, others may jump on at the last minute.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite.
4-star Cordarrian Richardson
Overall rank: 134
Running back rank: 7
Richardson backed off his commitment to Clemson on Christmas Eve and now no one really knows where he’s headed. Oxford is close to home, but that may not matter to the 5’11, 220-pounder since he’s visited Michigan State, Oregon and UCF. The Rebs need a running back for this class after whiffing on Cam Akers. Richardson, who ran for a combined 4,030 yards and 29 touchdowns during his final two years of high school, would be a nice consolation prize.
3-star Thomas Johnston
Overall rank: 374
Outside linebacker rank: 24
Hometown: Spanish Fort, Ala.
Ole Miss, Arkansas and Iowa appear to be Johnston’s leaders... at least among schools who plan to play him at linebacker. Auburn is still in the picture but is apparently recruiting the state of Alabama’s all-time leading tackler to play H-back. Gus Malzahn reportedly pushed for a commitment while Johnston was on campus last weekend, but the 6’2, 215-pound backer didn’t budge. Rebel defensive coaches Wesley McGriff and Bradley Dale Peveto will have their work cut out for them, but Thomas seems legitimately interested and is waiting to make his decision until after this visit to Oxford. Getting the last visit is always crucial in the ‘crootin game.
3-star Mohamed Sanogo
Overall rank: 387
Inside linebacker rank: 16
Hometown: Plano, Texas
The Rebels just went in-home with Sanogo days after his official visit to Starkville with another top target, Willie Gay. The 6’2, 239-pounder is a former Houston commit who stepped away from that pledge following Tom Herman’s departure for Texas. Since then, he seems to be very interested in the Rebels, according to insiders, and this visit could put Hugh Freeze and Co. over the top. Ole Miss needs linebackers yesterday, so Sanogo’s commitment would be a huge boost for 2017.
3-star Josh Clarke
Overall rank: 508
Outside linebacker rank: 33
Hometown: New Orleans
The Louisiana native has been committed to the Rebs since June and been extremely vocal of his Ole Miss support on Twitter. But LSU, which has made a habit of waiting until the last minute to chase down in-state prospects, be making a move. That rumor’s been floating around the web, partly because of a tweet Clarke sent out earlier this week.
this stressful....— Josh Clarke♦️ (@kxng__josh) January 18, 2017
Losing a longstanding linebacker commit would be a serious morale blow to the Rebs. This weekend could be key to firming up his commitment.
3-star Kaleb Oliver
Overall rank: 516
Outside linebacker rank: 34
Hometown: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The former Mississippi State commit is a new name on the Rebel radar but he has already received an in-home visit from the Rebel coaching staff and is being recruited by Ole Miss women’s hoops star Shelby Gibson (a fellow Oakland High School classmate).
One would think that Oliver might be kicking around the idea of making the trip north to Louisville to see former State DC and new Cardinals DC Peter Sirmon, but nothing definitive has come out about that yet and he will be in the 662 instead. As it stands now, the 6’3, 205-pounder’s 247Sports Crystal Ball reads 62 percent in favor of the good guys. Louisville and State are still in pursuit of the No. 15 player from Tennessee.
3-star JaVonta Payton
Overall rank: 553
Wide receiver rank: 82
The Music City prospect is a relatively new name, having just received an Ole Miss offer from Ole Miss at the start of the new year. The 6’1, 170-pounder did it all for Hillsboro High School (960 all-purpose yards, 13 total touchdowns) and would be a dynamic athlete for Phil Longo’s offense. He just returned from a visit at Tennessee, so it could be a East vs. West battle for his signature.
3-star Ben Brown
Overall rank: 850
Offensive tackle rank: 83
Hometown: Vicksburg, Miss.
The St. Aloysius prospect has been committed to the Rebels since last February and has shown zero signs of wavering on that since then. One thing that has wavered: his size. As a junior, Brown was close to 6’5 and 290. Now, heading into his last semester as a senior, he is up to 6’6 and 313-pounds. Ben will be competing in the International Bowl with Team USA, along with fellow commit Clarke and targets Sanogo and Johnston.
3-star Taekion Reed
Overall rank: 1396
Offensive tackle rank: 131
Hometown: Columbus, Miss.
The big fella from Lowndes County is a Mississippi State commit but is looking to make sure he’s got his T’s crossed and his I’s dotted this weekend. Reed received an Ole Miss offer last summer at the Rebels’ elite camp but hasn’t really been on the radar. But, there is no denying his ability and size (6’4, 295). He is a space eater in the trenches and the Rebs are in dire need of someone to replace the departed Isaac Gross and D.J. Jones. He committed to State last Friday but with two weeks left, anything can happen on the crootin trail.