2017’s inaugural early signing day is in the books. Ole Miss flipped three major surprises at the defensive end, quarterback, and wide receiver positions, along with 12 other robust signings that shot the Rebs’ 2018 class ranking from No. 62 to No. 36, according to 247Sports. That seems like an impressive jump in the space of just 24 hours.
There are many explanations for Matt Luke’s immediate success out on the recruiting trail, perhaps most salient among them being the wild coaching carousel that this young offseason has seen. Butch Jones is gone from Tennessee. Dan Mullen is coaching at Florida. CLANGA brought in some guy, and Texas A&M set up a personal fiefdom for Jimbo Fisher.
That’s a lot of moving parts, and among the programs expected to grab an outside name at head coach, Ole Miss was the lone team that kept a holdover from 2017, for better or ill.
Certainly Luke’s continued presence in Oxford and stability at staff positions appears to have paid off on the recruiting circuit.
So what does this impressive group mean, exactly?
Exactly? Who the hell knows. Certainly it’s pissed off recruiting Twitter to no end, because Ole Miss is no longer allowed to recruit four and five star guys, let alone sign them. Mercy no, that’d be worse than original sin.
What we may be looking at here is a crop of young talent that sees what Matt Luke and Phil Longo’s offense does and they want to run and throw all over the yard, too. Ole Miss’ offense is downright fun to watch, to say nothing of what it must be like to play for. Jordan Ta’amu is coming back next year — and maybe the year after — and he proved himself a worthy replacement for standout Shea Patterson, whom no one around this shop has ever heard of.
If you’re a high-profile WR prospect and you like to catch footballs with regularity and score touchdowns, why not come play with this crew? Hell, Ole Miss has put three WRs and a tight end into the NFL in the last two years, and they’ll probably do so again this draft cycle. A.J. Brown is sticking around for another year, but he’ll be a millionaire in April 2019, and that’s a promise.
Another thing we learned: Wesley McGriff can apparently bait the hook, since he grabbed up six signees on the defensive side of the ball. We’ll see how those talents translate to real defensive improvement, especially for a unit that couldn’t have been any worse by the end of last season.
Why do I feel so mad about this?
Because you don’t root for Ole Miss and you’re an NCAA stan down to your shoes. You believe that Ole Miss should have been even more hamstrung in their NCAA sanctions and that punishment should somehow be softly felt out on the recruiting trail. You feel that high school players only concern themselves with future bowl games while not acknowledging that a good number of these signees probably won’t see the field of play with any real significance in 2018. Matt Corral knows he’ll be groomed under Ta’amu, who, personally, I can’t think of a better QB mentor.
Again: it’s a single extra bowl ban, and we can be sure that that fact was expressly communicated to every one of the players that chose to sign with Ole Miss, and guess what: THEY STILL DID. Email me if you’re mad, and I’ll promptly drop you in my SPAM folder.
Am I too optimistic about Ole Miss’ future success, given the past four or five years of investigation and recent NCAA sanctions?
Maybe. Probably. Ever root for this team, but again temper your passion with the knowledge that there will be no postseason for this team, even if they go undefeated or pick off 10 or 11 opponents, which would be hilarious and wonderful and we’d write beautiful prose about all of it.
But still, we don’t know what the future holds, but further, the NCAA stuff is behind us, and we’re on to the future. With a four-star QB, an Under Armour All-American WR, and a couple JUCO All-American defenders. And several other fellas who are up for the task of bringing back the Landshark swagger. That seems pretty cool.
Ok, be honest: Is Ole Miss cheating again?
Yeah, of course they fucking are. That’s how this shit works. Get used to it.