Ole Miss was dealt a devastating blow in December when five-star, in-state running back Cam Akers committed to FSU. Still, Hugh Freeze could land himself one hell of consolation prize with four-star rusher Cordarrian Richardson, who said during his official visit to Oxford last weekend that Ole Miss “has a 90 percent chance” of landing his signature on Signing Day.
“It was pretty good,” Richardson told Ben Garrett of the Ole Miss Spirit while recapping the weekend. “I enjoyed myself and got to know all the coaches. I got to meet all the new coaches. It was a good positive vibe about the trip. [Ole Miss being close to home] is a big deal, but it all just depends on how I’m feeling.”
The Memphis native said Oregon and UCF are his other top schools. He described Oregon as his “dream school,” but Ole Miss’ proximity to home and need for running backs are strong pulls.
The Rebels signed four-star D’Vaughn Pennamon and three-star Jarrion Street last year but don’t have any running backs committed in the current cycle. Projected starter Jordan Wilkins is entering his final year and promising youngster Eric Swinney has yet to make an impact after suffering season-ending injuries in consecutive years. Last year’s starter, Akeem Judd, has graduated.
Hugh Freeze needs running backs, especially if he’s going to allow new offensive coordinator Phil Longo to implement a more balanced attack. That was apparently part of the pitch to Richardson, who said Freeze told him the Rebels “will use the running backs a lot more than they have.”
A commitment from Richardson, who’s ranked the No. 160 overall recruit in the country by 247Sports, would give the Rebels just their second top-200 prospect in this class (wideout D.D. Bowie is ranked No. 131). 247 has Richardson as the 10th best running back in the country and the eighth overall prospect in the state of Tennessee.
Willie Gay visited LSU.
The four-star linebacker decommitted from Ole Miss back in October, but the hirings of defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff and linebacker coach Bradley Dale Peveto have been enough to keep the Rebels in Gay’s top two. The other school at the top of his list—and the favorite to land the country’s No. 3 outside ‘backer prospect, according to most recruiting experts—is LSU.
Gay took an official visit there over the weekend.
247Sports national writer Barton Simmons said over the weekend that he expects Gay to sign with LSU. Interestingly enough, Simmons made no mention of Ole Miss while listing LSU’s biggest competitors, instead noting Mississippi State and Michigan.
This recruitment is one that could go down the wire on National Signing Day. Now that Akers is enrolled at FSU, Gay is Ole Miss’ top remaining target in my opinion.
A bunch of linebackers had a good time in Oxford.
Three-star inside linebacker Mohamed Sanogo has been a hot name for the past few months after he decommitted from Houston. The 6’2, 239-pounder from Plano, Tex. made the trek east to Oxford over the weekend and got a chance to hang out with a crew of fellow linebackers: Ole Miss commit Josh Clarke and fellow targets Thomas Johnston and Kaleb Oliver.
Johnston, a three-star out of Alabama, told Scout’s Ben Garrett during his visit that he has eliminated Auburn and is going to go to a school that wants him at linebacker (Gus Malzhan was recruiting him as an H-back). That leaves Ole Miss, Arkansas and Iowa as his finalists.
Oliver, a three-star from Murfreesboro, Tenn. who recently backed off his verbal pledge to Dan Mullen, told Rebel Grove’s Neal McCready that he’s down to two schools and will visit Georgia Tech next weekend.
JaVonta Payton’s dad thinks Ole Miss is a good fit for his son.
Payton is a three-star wide receiver from Nashville who’s flown under the radar in part because he’s only been playing the position since his junior season.
“I believe [Ole Miss] fits his skill-set really well,” Payton’s dad, McKinley Young, told the Ole Miss Spirit during an official visit to Oxford. “JaVonta’s only been playing receiver for a year and a half. He’s always been a running back... He’s still kind of growing into the position and learning, but he does so many things naturally that a lot of great receivers do. He keeps working at it. His hips, the way he can drive, his speed to get on top of the defense, it definitely would be a great offense for him.”
It sounds like Payton’s decision could come down to Ole Miss or Tennessee, where he recently took an official visit. Last weekend’s trip to Oxford certainly helped the Rebels’ cause.
“It’s beautiful, the whole campus,” Young said. “It’s the first time I’ve been to a school that has the hotel on campus. That was kind of interesting. Everything’s been amazing.”