Despite sports taking a brief break now that the Stanley Cup, NBA Finals and College World Series are over, recruiting refuses to stop. Nike’s The Opening Finals is underway in Beaverton, Ore. at Phil Knight’s playground. The event started on Tuesday and will continue through July 3rd with the finale being the famous 7-on-7 tournament that will air on NFL Network this year. There will be 166 prospects on hand to participate in the combine-style competition as well as the Elite 11 finals and the aforementioned tournament starting next Monday.
College football’s elite blue-bloods are represented well this year. Miami and Mark Richt lead the event with 10 commits attending. Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes have eight commits there, Notre Dame and Brian Kelly have five future Fighting Irish in attendance and the Clemson Tigers have the top two overall prospects competing.
As far as Ole Miss prospects being on hand, there are not any current commits participating. But, there are plenty of targets that you can keep tabs on that might be Rebels when it is all said and done in February. Here is a quick list of the six names you need to know that will be tested this week at Nike’s Headquarters.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite. Click on each name to see highlights.
Overall rank: 47
Wide receiver rank: 8
Hometown: Manvel, Tex.
Ole Miss fans should be familiar with the Houston suburb of Manvel by now. Current Ole Miss Rebels Deontay Anderson and D’Vaughn Pennamon both starred for the Manvel Mavericks and eventually inked with Ole Miss. Now, you can bet those two are doing their very best to reel in the 6’2, 212-pound wide receiver from their alma mater. Currently, experts believe he will stay in-state, but Hugh Freeze has an outstanding track record in the Lone Star State and Peeler has defied odds before on the recruiting trail. Preston’s recruitment, in my opinion, hinges on whether or not Longo’s offense thrives in 2017.
Overall rank: 74
Wide receiver rank: 14
Hometown: Houston, Tex.
Speaking of Texas, the No. 10 player in the state announced his top five recently and will be committing in two weeks. Since Ole Miss made the cut, Peeler has a puncher’s chance, but the powers that be think he will announce for the Longhorns. With that said, the success Ole Miss has had in Texas and their wide-open offense being triggered by The Opening alum and Elite 11 champ, Shea Patterson, surely helps their chances a little bit. But, this one seems to be getting away from Ole Miss slowly but surely. We shall see if Woodard reconsiders before National Signing Day and makes a trip back to Oxford in the fall.
Overall rank: 76
Defensive tackle rank: 5
Hometown: Jackson, Tenn.
The Tennessee resident is the No. 5 defensive tackle prospect in the country and is arguably new defensive line coach Freddie Roach’s top target for the 2018 class. The Jackson North Side star is picked by most to choose the hometown Vols, but Ole Miss is giving it a go. The 6’3, 296-pounder is athletic enough to play both inside and out and would be the biggest get in the trenches since Benito Jones in 2016. The U.S. Army All-American will decide between Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Oregon and it probably won’t be until signing day.
Overall rank: 139
Running back rank: 5
Hometown: Birmingham, Ala.
The 6’3, 218-pounder was predicted to be a LSU Tiger for the longest time but his 247Sports Crystal Ball has since shifted to “cloudy”. Ole Miss has struggled to get their top target at the running back position since Hugh Freeze arrived in Oxford and as of now, Joiner looks to join that list of “just missed prospects”. Although, the one thing that is in Ole Miss’ corner that no one else has is three-star commit Jonathan Hess. Joiner and Hess are very close and one would assume the current Ole Miss commit will try his best to bring his U.S. Army All-American pal over to join the class.
Overall rank: 175
Wide receiver rank: 34
Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
The St. Thomas Aquinas star turned heads earlier this summer when his Crystal Ball started to shift from the Miami Hurricanes to the Ole Miss Rebels. Now he looks to turn heads in Oregon at the Nike Football Rating Championship with his electric speed and explosiveness. The 5’11, 170-pound slot receiver is entertaining some of college football’s elite (heavy interest from Ohio State and Alabama) but is also apparently interested in hearing new receivers coach Jacob Peeler’s plans for him if he were to pick the Rebels.
Overall rank: 300
Offensive guard rank: 14
Hometown: Montgomery, Ala.
The big man from the Yellowhammer State unofficially visited Oxford with fellow Montgomery resident and three-star cornerback JaKorey Hawkins earlier this month. Now, the Rebels will have to fend off Auburn and Georgia to sign the 6’3, 325-pounder. The No. 8 player in Alabama still doesn’t hold an offer from the Crimson Tide but I would think that if that changed that everything else would change. Nevertheless, offensive line coach Matt Luke is a tremendous recruiter who does have a history of taking things from Georgia.