National Signing Day always brings surprises. Well, here is your first. Ole Miss has received a verbal pledge from an outside linebacker prospect who holds an offer from Nick Saban and has an older brother on the Crimson Tide’s roster.
Three-star outside linebacker/weak-side defensive end Kevontae’ Ruggs has committed to Ole Miss, per Bama Online’s Hank South, over Alabama and a late offer from former linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto at Texas A&M and could be one of the biggest steals of this class.
Ruggs, a three-star originally from Montgomery, Ala., burst onto the scene back in December after a strong showing at the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game and Matt Luke and Co. moved in quick, despite the allegiance to the 2018 National Champs. The Rebs offered back in May and were able to hold off late runs by the Tide, FAU, and Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M.
September 15, 2018 ✅ ‼️ pic.twitter.com/abIm0Elcee— Kevontae' Ruggs (@rip_lamexico) January 29, 2018
The No. 30 outside linebacker in the country had offers from Alabama, Florida Atlantic, Louisville, UCF, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and was receiving interest from Penn State as well. As a senior at Lee High School, he finished his senior year with 44 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. The man known as “Bunny” also played some offense, catching 28 balls for 589 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite his brother, Henry Ruggs III, being in Tuscaloosa, Devontae’ chose to head West to Oxford to try and repair the Landshark legacy.
Ruggs is Ole Miss’ 17th member of the 2018 class and has Matt Luke’s first class ranked 35th now, per 247Sports.
How does he fit in?
The 6’4, 210-pounder will be counted on as someone to rejuvenate the Landshark defense and restore it to it’s days of glory back in 2008 and 2014 when they were a household name and feared by their conference foes. The Alabama athlete can easily play several different positions, has a large frame to work with, and keen instincts when it comes to locating the football and going out and getting it.
This will be something that new linebackers coach Jon Sumrall will relish when trying to replace the humongous production of the departed Demarquis Gates and Marquis Haynes.
Upon arrival in the 662, the explosive outside backer/edge rusher will be competing with Donta Evans, Detric Bing-Dukes, Brenden Williams, Josh Clarke, and Mohamed Sanogo for time at the second level on McGriff’s defense. It’s certainly not a terrible problem to have, having several players vying for playing time at linebacker, but they will need to produce and get acclimated quickly. Gates is a huge loss not only because he was the leading tackler, but his experience was invaluable.
Look for Ruggs to get a look at linebacker first then possibly slide down to the first level as a change of pace guy on the edge, much like former Reb C.J. Johnson. In high school, Devontae’ played with plenty of raw athleticism and exhibited an abundance of speed covering backs and receivers in the open field. Once he gets acclimated to SEC play, he will fit in perfectly in McGriff’s attacking defense. In today’s college football, Ruggs is someone you have to have. And now the Rebels do.