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Friday Night Highlights: Ole Miss is trying to steal a linebacker from Urban Meyer

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Despite the NCAA cloud, the Rebels remain in contention for a blue-chip ‘backer.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New Oxford resident and friend of the Cup, Russell Johnson, has a new podcast with Rebel Grove called “The Soft Verbal”. He has mentioned this particular topic on Twitter a few times over the past few months, but it was on the inaugural episode of the TSV that he talked in-depth with Neal McCready about four-star outside linebacker Chris Oats and his increasing interest in Ole Miss.

The 6’4, 215-pounder from Cincinnati, Ohio might be relatively new to some of you, but for those that have stayed in tune with crootin circles and/or follow Russell on Twitter, you know this is something to keep an eye on. On the show, Johnson talks with McCready about the current state of Ole Miss’ recruiting, who they are looking at in the JUCO ranks and what he thinks about how the NCAA situation affects this class and beyond. But, it was his comments about Oats that stood out.

Before you immediately write off the Rebels because Oats is from Buckeye country, Johnson says that’s a bit premature.

“I would call it a fluid situation at this time,” says Russell. “Oats certainly has an offer from Urban Meyer but he may not be at or near the top of their board at this time.”

The country’s No. 19 outside linebacker currently holds offers from the aforementioned Buckeyes and Rebels as well as Cincinnati, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Nebraska and Oklahoma, among others. So, as you can see, there’s no doubt from college coaches on his ability to translate to the next level.

He is a rangy linebacker who already has the ideal frame you want in today’s college football and he is only going to get better. He flashes all over the field whether it’s in pass coverage, stopping the run, blitzing the quarterback or on special teams. He would undoubtedly make an immediate impact on Wesley McGriff’s defense if he were to sign with Ole Miss.

3-star QB Kevin Doyle continues to dominate.

We have mentioned him here before. And if you don’t know, now you know. Kevin Doyle, a three-star pro-style quarterback out of St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. is someone you need to pay attention to. The 6’4, 210-pounder has been putting up some eye-popping numbers and against some elite defenses, to boot. SJC is now 2-1 on the year after blowing out nationally-ranked opponent last week, beating then-No. 14 St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.) to the tune of 42-25.

In three games, Doyle has thrown for 947 yards, 9 total touchdowns and just one interception. He has shined the brightest in the games against the best opponents. You might remember, Doyle and his Cadet teammates traveled 2,791 miles to take on nationally-ranked De La Salle (Calif.) in week two. Despite battling injuries on the offensive line which caused Doyle and his offense to be extremely predictable, Doyle still managed to throw for 308 yards against a stout Spartans defense and almost win it for SJC.

In his most recent game against a top 15 team out of New Jersey, Doyle was as surgical as ever.

He uses his tall frame well to see over his offensive line and to observe the entire field, climbing the pocket and going through all his progressions. He possesses a quick release and does a tremendous job of throwing his receivers open and fitting the football in tight windows when coverage is there. As of now, Ole Miss still leads the Crystal Ball race by a large margin over Pittsburgh. Phil Longo certainly likes what he sees in Doyle, recruiting a recruit all the way up in the D.M.V. area. And he could be close to joining the 2018 class the way he is playing right now.

The Rebels are keeping tabs on a few running backs.

Lord knows Ole Miss needs some help getting their run game going. But, it doesn’t seem to be that they cannot land talent at the running back position. Over the years, running backs coach Derrick Nix has signed several four-stars, including Jordan Wilkins, D’Vaughn Pennamon and transfers Mark Dodson and I’Tavius Mathers. Well, rest assured that they are desperately trying to find the recipe for success after missing out on five-star Cam Akers last season.

As we take a look at the running back board, let’s look at three-star Jarveon Howard first. He seems to be a name that the coaching staff is keeping a close eye on and his Crystal Ball has favored Ole Miss for some time now. In my opinion, he is someone who could commit soon if things shake out the right way in the coming months. The 5’10, 202-pound senior from East Marion High School out of Columbia, Miss. has run for 648 yards in four games and scored six touchdowns.

The No. 31 running back in the country currently holds offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Tulane, Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Syracuse and UAB. At this time, it appears to be a two-team race between the in-state rivals.

The second name to keep an eye on is from the 2019 class: four-star Eric Gray. The 5’10, 185-pounder from Lausanne Collegiate School was named Tennessee’s DII-A back of the year after rushing for 2,300 yards, 46(!) touchdowns and leading the Lynx to a 14-0 year and a state title.

The 2019 class’ No. 2 all-purpose back recently visited Notre Dame for their game against Georgia and he came away impressed. His 247Sports profile shows that he is currently showing significant interest in Michigan, Stanford and the hometown Tennessee Vols. And he also holds offers from just about everyone, most notably Colorado, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

So far through three games of junior season, Gray has rushed for 599(!) yards and six touchdowns. For those of you doing the math at home, that’s averaging 199.7 yards per game. I think Coach Nix would gladly accept that in Oxford.

The last name to keep an eye on is 2018 Cordova (Tenn.) running back Jeremy Banks. The three-star prospect from the Memphis area has flown under the radar for most of his recruiting cycle but Ole Miss and Nix are still keeping tabs on him. He currently does not have an offer from the Rebels, but that could change soon if they continue to like what they see.

The No. 66 running back in this year’s class has ideal size (6’2, 215-pounds) and can really tote the rock. The Wolves’ bell cow ran for 815 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior but is off to a torrid start in 2017, running for 685 yards and 10 touchdowns already in four games.

He has an official visit scheduled for this weekend at Wyoming and in October for Utah. The Utes and hometown Tigers are currently tied for the lead according to his Crystal Ball. Despite not having an offer from the Rebels, that could dramatically change the landscape of his recruitment if Matt Luke and staff were to extend to him.

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