Last weekend, Ole Miss entertained 10 official visitors, including four-stars Richard Gouraige, William Barnes, Marquez Ezzard, Cam’ron Jones, and Tommy Bush. This weekend there are only three, but the three-stars are just as vital to wrapping up a strong first class for Matt Luke and there are two key JUCO targets visiting as well. There are several candidates listed who are in line to secure spots in this class that are addressing needs for immediate playing time and/or building depth in key spots.
As always, when we hear of anything changing, visitors being added, removed, MYSTERY CROOT RUMORS, we will update this post accordingly.
And once again, in case you missed it last week, here is your refresher on what exactly happens on a CROOTAPALOOZA weekend, courtesy of our very own Jeff Gray:
So what all happens during Crootapalooza? A quick perusal of the aforementioned Clanga message boards tells us it will be a weekend full of prostitutes, unending lines of cocaine, those sacks of cash with the big green dollar sign that are super convenient for cartoon bank robbers, prostitutes, Bible burnings, a convoy of Cannon Motors “rentals” and more prostitutes. In actuality, it’s more like a bunch of high school kids touring campus and probably having a good time at the bar, but hey, that’s probably just a #Network cover up.
Below is the list of official visitors as accumulated by OMSpirit.com and crosschecked against Twitter by us. Keep in mind that this list is fluid: some of these guys won’t show and others may jump on at the last minute. This list does not include unofficial visitors or the early enrollees that are already on campus.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings
4-star Tank Jenkins
Overall rank: 249
Offensive guard rank: 11
Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama
The highest-rated visitor this weekend is a big one, literally and figuratively. The 6’3, 325-pounder from Alabama visited Oklahoma and they appear to have the lead now, according to his 247Sports Crystal Ball. But, if he were to thoroughly enjoy his time in Oxford with fellow Bammer resident and Ole Miss commit JaKorey Hawkins, maybe Matt Luke and Co. can make up some ground. Sooners’ head coach Lincoln Riley went by to see Tank this week, but Luke will save his in-home for closer to signing day. With the uncertainty of fellow o-line targets William Barnes, Richard Gouraige, and Ed Montilus, this is a big weekend for Jack Bicknell.
4-star Miles Battle
Overall rank: 327
Wide receiver rank: 57
Hometown: Houston, Texas
One of Ole Miss’ most important targets for it’s most talented room, Battle is one of Peeler’s top targets for 2018. He just recently wrapped up an official visit in Eugene at Oregon and will now head to Oxford to see his other top school, according to his 247Sports Crystal Ball. Ole Miss will definitely lose DaMarkus Lodge after 2018 and potentially will also lose A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf to the NFL Draft. If Peeler wants to continue the tradition of the nWo, he needs to sign Battle.
3-star Charles Strong
Overall rank: 401
Running back rank: 13
Hometown: Lake Butler, Florida
Ole Miss may have missed out on five-star, all-everything Cam Akers last year, but their running back situation actually looked pretty solid in 2017. But, Jordan Wilkins is gone. So Derrick Nix must reload with a big-time high school back to go along with JUCO signee Scottie Phillips. The former Florida State commit just finished his official visit to Texas A&M and they appear to be the lone competition for Matt Luke and Co. The Rebs still lead for the 6’1, 220-pound back, according to his crystal ball, but this official visit could separate them from the Aggies if all goes well.
3-star Kevontae’ Ruggs
Overall rank: 497
Outside linebacker rank: 31
Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama
Ruggs was slated to visit last weekend, but pushed it back for this coming up weekend. Same song, different verse: Ole Miss needs linebackers. Ruggs, the younger brother of Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs, III has been slated to join the Crimson Tide’s 2018 class for some time but it has yet to happen. Not sure why I understand the suspense if Nick Saban has a spot for him now, but if he doesn’t, he could be buying his time to see if a spot opens up down the line before February 7th. If not, I think Ole Miss has a shot at signing him. He’s a bit of a tweener (6’4, 190-pounds) but is a dynamic playmaker who is a thumper.
3-star Joseph Foucha
Overall rank: 528
Safety rank: 16
Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana
LSU can’t get them all. Foucha is a prime example of a great player from the Boot who can sometimes fall through the cracks and make it out. Despite the three-star status, his offer sheet is loaded (LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, FSU, Michigan, Oregon, among others). The Hogs and new coach Chad Morris have seized all the momentum with the 5’11, 194-pound safety as of right now after an official visit, but maybe Jason Jones, Charles Clark, and Wesley McGriff can help change that this weekend. Cam’ron Jones also affects this recruitment a lot if he were to choose the Rebs on Saturday when he commits.
3-star Jalen Cunningham
Overall rank: 539
Defensive tackle rank: 39
Hometown: Odenville, Alabama
The 2018 signee will play offensive line when he gets to Ole Miss, most likely at guard. The Offense-Defense All-American is a large individual who will help to continue the trend of being physical in the run game and wearing people down in the fourth quarter like Bicknell and Luke want to do. He is a true road grader and not a bad recruiter himself.
3-star Noah Jefferson
Overall JUCO rank: 19
Defensive tackle rank: 8
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
The former Southern Cal signee has been THE target for Freddie Roach this cycle. He visited him out west last month as soon as the dead period was over and they have been in constant contact since. Then, earlier this month, the 6’6, 330-pound JUCO prospect tweeted out that his two two were Florida and Ole Miss. And as of now, he only has two visits scheduled before signing day: Ole Miss this weekend and Florida the next. Can Freddie and the rest of the staff snag the once Pac 12 signee and make it 2-0 versus Dan Mullen?
3-star Dorian Gerald
Overall JUCO rank: 26
Strong-side defensive end rank: 1
Hometown: Florence, South Carolina
Gerald is another JUCO defensive lineman that the Rebs are fighting over with the Gators. The former Tennessee commit and top-ranked defensive end in 247Sports composite rankings just officially visited College Station and will wrap up his fourth and fifth officials in Oxford and Gainesville. Roach has also been recruiting Gerald incredibly hard, even going as far as sending Jones and McGriff to his family’s home in South Carolina to drop in and pay a visit. Not sure if Ole Miss has room for both Gerald and Jefferson, but either one would be a big get and someone who could play significant snaps immediately in 2018.
3-star JaKorey Hawkins
Overall rank: 1048
Cornerback rank: 92
Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama
The Ole Miss commit opted to not sign early, presumably to shop around a bit and take some visits to make sure he wants to end up in Oxford. But, as of now, the only visit he took was to Boca Raton to see Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic last weekend. Missouri is still in the picture according to his crystal ball, but Ole Miss could sew things up this weekend with a solid official visit.
3-star Quentin Bivens
Overall rank: 1176
Defensive tackle rank: 82
Hometown: Waynesboro, Mississippi
The Wayne County standout has never wavered since committing to the Rebs last April. He is signed and essentially visiting to just hang with some future teammates and possibly do a little recruiting of his own. Bivens continues the legacy of WCHS Landsharks, started way back when Jerrell Powe signed with Ole Miss and then Benito Jones followed.
3-star Hamilton Hall
Overall rank: 1394
Offensive tackle rank: 123
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Either it is the world’s greatest coincidence or Scott Frost is cheating off Matt Luke because Nebraska seems to be recruiting every single player Ole Miss is. And Hall is no exception. The big fella from the A is starting to gain steam on the crootin trail, now holding offers from notable programs like the Corhuskers, Indiana, Mississippi State, and UCF. Ole Miss is hoping they can bring him in and gain some ground. As it stands right now, I don’t think anyone knows where Hamilton is going.
3-star Gavin Lewis
Overall rank: 1408
Defensive tackle rank: 103
Hometown: Madison, Alabama
Gavin is a new name that has popped up over the last week and was a late addition to the visitor’s list. Don’t let the 1400+ ranking fool you, this kid’s offer sheet is legit (North Carolina, UCLA, Colorado, Iowa State, Kentucky, Purdue, among others). The 6’4, 275-pounder appears to be down to three with visits to North Carolina and UCLA all wrapped up and Oxford on deck this weekend. Roach and Co. have done a phenomenal job of locating talent in the Yellowhammer State and making them a priority. Could Lewis be the sixth(!) signee from Alabama for Matt Luke?
EDITOR’S NOTE: As I mentioned above, we will update this list throughout the week with any confirmed changes, defections, and/or additions.