Ole Miss was able to secure a commitment from a four-star linebacker at the Under Armour All-America Game, and now Hugh Freeze’s staff turn their attention to a few prospects in San Antonio at the U.S. Army All American Bowl at the Alamodome. Five-star running back Cam Akers will be participating, but we all know why he is a non-factor for the 2017 class. Instead, the Rebels will be keeping their eyes on a current commit and a couple defensive targets.
This is the second of the major all-star games where more of the nation’s top prospects have congregated. And while Ole Miss just cracked the top 40 of 247Sports team rankings, there are still some big names that the Rebels will be watching this week in Texas.
Let’s take a quick look at how you can tune in, then dive into the players you should be watching come Jan. 7.
How to watch online
When: Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017
Time: Noon CT
Online: NBC Sports
Targets to watch
4-star WR D.D. Bowie
The long-time Rebel commit has been vocal about his concerns with the NCAA investigation, but he has held firm with his verbal commitment. Now, the 6’1, 170-pounder is starting to think about his options a bit. "I want to be safe from them getting suspended from bowl games and I don't know how many years [probation] is gonna be," Bowie told 247Sports’ Barton Simmons.
The nation’s No. 12 wide receiver also mentioned that Akers is recruiting him to Tallahassee and that if he received an offer from the Noles he would commit. Ole Miss’ highest-rated commit could be slipping away but he did mention that he will make his decision final on National Signing Day and that it’s “most likely gonna be the Rebels.”
4-star OLB Willie Gay
Speaking of someone who is possibly slipping away, the former Ole Miss commit is a top target for just about everyone heading into National Signing Day. But, here at the Cup, we think this one will stay within the state’s limits and it’ll be Mississippi State or Ole Miss in February.
The state’s No. 3 player and nation’s No. 7 outside linebacker does all the right things to keep people guessing: from congratulating the Rebels’ newest commit to sending cryptic emojis to Akers after he picked FSU. As for the 6’2, 215-pounder’s destination, no one really knows, despite his 247Sports Crystal Ball showing 81 percent in favor of State.
4-star S Devon Hunter
The 6’1, 205-pound safety is a new name and another ripple effect of Wesley McGriff’s hiring. The Chesapeake, Va. native was a top target for the Auburn Tigers, but now that Crimedawg is the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss, Hunter might be looking at red and blue instead of blue and orange.
It will be an uphill battle for sure, but if anyone can work some magic, it’s McGriff. He just got a commitment from four-star outside linebacker Breon Dixon, so could he do it again with Hunter? The No. 4 safety in the country seems to favor Virginia Tech and Clemson, according to his Crystal Ball, and has mentioned that he might make a trip to Oxford.
4-star DT Ja’len Parks
The Florida State commit is another new name that has been under the radar due to being committed to the Noles since July. But, despite a commitment to the Orange Bowl Champs, Parks will still visit Ole Miss in a few weeks with three-star Corey Durden, another Seminole verbal commit.
The Newberry High School teammates would be nice additions alongside Benito Jones and Breeland Speaks in the trenches for new defensive line coach, Tray Scott. Parks, the No. 8 defensive tackle in the country, will also visit Louisville and Florida State before signing day, so it will be an extremely difficult task for Scott.
4-star WR Omar Manning
With Bowie possibly wavering on his commitment, the TCU commit wouldn’t be the worst replacement. The nation’s No. 24 wide receiver has been committed to the Horned Frogs since October, but he will visit The Velvet Ditch at the end of the month. Hugh Freeze has had tremendous success in The Lone Star State at the receiver position (Quincy Adeboyejo, Damarkus Lodge and Russ Snead) but he will also have to fend off Texas’ new coach, Tom Herman.