There have been plenty of rumors as to the sorts of punishment Ole Miss will receive from a never-ending NCAA investigation that’s now old enough to attend kindergarten: extended probation, years-worth of scholarship cuts, a suspension for Hugh Freeze, a bowl ban, etc. But no retribution short of the death penalty can be so crippling as what the NCAA has done so far: nothing.
The maddening uncertainty of Ole Miss’ extended stay in limbo has crippled the Rebels’ recruiting apparatus. For the first time in his five years as the head coach in Oxford, Freeze is set to sign an unranked class on National Signing Day. That class currently ranks 52nd in the country, behind every SEC team save for Vandy.
Honestly, though, it could be a hell of lot worse. The fact that Freeze has pieced together anything approaching a decent class despite the NCAA and a sizable staff overhaul proves his acumen as a recruiter. And if things fall the right way on Wednesday, this class could take a significant jump up the rankings.
Let’s answer some of the biggest questions heading into National Signing Day.
What’s the word with D.D. Bowie?
Bowie, a four-star wide receiver who’s currently the highest-rated commitment the Rebels have, has grown increasingly finicky since his good buddy, five-star running back Cam Akers, committed to Florida State. Bowie said in early January that he would “find somewhere else” if the Rebels hadn’t learned their NCAA fate by Signing Day and claimed he would immediately flip to Florida State if offered. The ‘Noles never expressed interest, but the concern now is that Bowie will flip to Mississippi State. He took an official visit to Starkville two weeks ago and hosted Dan Mullen for an in-home visit last weekend.
Bowie plans to make a Signing Day decision between Ole Miss, State, LSU and Alabama. All signs seem to point to Starkville.
Are there any big prospects the Rebels can still land?
The potential loss of Bowie could be offset by the potential gain of four-star Cordarrian Richardson, who would also help dull the sting of Akers’ departure. The No. 10 running back in the country said there was a “90 percent chance” he’d pick the Rebels after visiting Oxford two weeks ago and his 247Sports Crystal Ball unanimously favors Ole Miss.
Also keep an eye on four-star defensive back Jaylon Redd, who added Ole Miss to his top three after an official visit to campus over the weekend. And former Rebel commit Willie Gay is technically in the picture, though that’s probably a two-team battle between LSU and State at this point.
Is Ole Miss gonna get any damn linebackers?
There are already a couple of them taking classes on campus actually: Breon Dixon is a four-star high school early enrollee and Brenden Williams is a three-star JUCO transfer. Dixon, who’s arguably the most important player in this class, will need to bulk up his 205-pound frame but has the athleticism and talent to become a starting outside linebacker. The heftier Williams could provide immediate support for a group that was routinely bludgeoned by downhill runners in 2016.
Three-star Josh Clarke seems to still be firmly committed despite some late interest from LSU. One of the biggest decisions of Signing Day will be that of Mohamed Sanogo, an un-committed three star who could be an eventual starter at middle linebacker. He’s making a decision between Ole Miss, State and UCLA, though he’s widely considered to be leaning toward the Rebels.
Other linebacker ‘croots to keep an eye on are three-stars Daniel Green and Zikerrion Baker.
Who’s already committed?
- 4-star WR D.D. Bowie
- 3-star LB Josh Clarke
- 3-star S A.J. Harris
- 3-star CB Jamar Richardson
- 3-star QB Alex Faniel
- 3-star DT Larrell Murchison
- 3-star OT Ben Brown
- 3-star OG Lavante Epson
Aside from Bowie, the name to worry about on this list is Murchison, who’s been recruited heavily by Georgia since pledging to the Rebels in early January. He said during his official visit to Oxford last weekend that he’s not “100 percent” in his commitment, though his close relationship with new Ole Miss D-line coach Tray Scott—the first coach to extend Murchison a Power 5 offer—is reason to think he’ll stick to his pledge.
There’s also been some talk of Epson backing out of his commitment, though that could potentially be a good sign that Ole Miss is on some higher rated O-linemen, namely four-star Stephan Zabie and three-star Tony Gray.
Who’s already enrolled?
These guys, the majority of which are JUCO transfers, have already started class in Oxford.
- 4-star LB Breon Dixon
- 3-star DE Markel Winters
- 3-star LB Brenden Williams
- 3-star CB Javien Hamilton
- 3-star QB Jordan Ta'amu
- 3-star DE Ryder Anderson
Is there a schedule of when targets are announcing?
Glad you asked! We put one together and will be updating it throughout Signing Day.
Is tweeting at ‘croots a good idea?