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CROOTAPALOOZA RESET: Here’s what you missed

The end is in sight.

Student Sports

Ole Miss is still scheduled to officially host three more visitors this weekend, but the humongous guest list weekends are over. The last two weekends have helped to really clarify the foggy picture that is the 2018 recruiting class for Matt Luke and Co. The Rebs have hosted 26 official visitors over the past two weekends, and things have gone well for the most part.

They even received a commitment late Sunday night.

There were targets who were lost, some who didn’t show up, and some dudes that appeared out of nowhere like “SURPRISE!” So now, what should we expect with National Signing Day two weeks away? Well, just keep reading and we will try to decipher it for you.

Back to the drawing board at safety.

On Saturday, four-star defensive back Cam’ron Jones committed to Nebraska over Ole Miss. While he was doing this, the Rebels were entertaining three-star defensive back Joseph Foucha on campus for an official visit. The Louisiana native who prepped at McDonogh 35, officially visited Arkansas last week and seems to be possibly down to the Hogs and the Rebels now after his stay in Oxford.

The 5’11, 194-pounder has an official visit scheduled for SMU for this weekend but it remains to be seen if he will even make the trip. The Hogs currently lead in the Crystal Ball race, but one has to think that Matt Luke and Co. made Foucha know how much he is needed.

Especially after Jones committed to the Cornhuskers.

Jon Sumrall is on the board.

The new linebackers coach was hired officially last Monday. And now he is already putting his stamp on this class. Three-star outside linebacker Kevontae’ Ruggs visited officially over the weekend with high school teammate and commit JaKorey Hawkins and decided to go ahead and end his recruitment late Sunday night by committing to Matt Luke over offers from Alabama and Texas A&M.

Ruggs talked with Ole Miss Spirit’s David Johnson after his visit and gave some insight to why he chose Oxford over Tuscaloosa and College Station.

“I realized Ole Miss is a great place for me to start my career,” Ruggs told the Ole Miss Spirit just minutes after informing the Rebels staff of his decision. “It seems like it’s a great place to be and the best place for me.”

If you remember correctly, former linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto left the program to return closer to his home and coach linebackers with good buddy, Jimbo Fisher, at A&M. And now, new coach Sumrall beats him for a linebacker target. Pretty good, huh?

Ruggs told Johnson he was impressed by newly-hired Ole Miss linebackers coach Jon Sumrall.

”This was really the first time I got to know him,” he said. “He’s a really cool guy, and I knew I could see myself playing for him.”

Who will Ole Miss close with at receiver?

Jacob Peeler has already signed two receivers in this class, but are still looking to get at least two more. This is paramount because DaMarkus Lodge is graduating and A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf could potentially be gone to the NFL by next season. So the nWo really needs to restock.

Ole Miss has officially hosted four-stars Miles Battle, Tommy Bush, and Marquez Ezzard over the last two weeks. As of right now, it appears that the Rebs are in it for all three and in the the best position for Miles Battle, per crystal ball predictions.

Now, it’s seemingly down to Miami and Ole Miss for Ezzard and Bush is all over the place, but all three made it to campus and Peeler has put himself in the game with each one.

Ezzard just wrapped up an official visit at Miami and Bush’s last official visit was in Oxford. Matt Luke will most likely conduct in-home visits with each to gauge interest and/or make the final sales pitch before signing day on February 7th. All three are instant impact wide outs who will certainly push signees Demarcus Gregory and Elijah Moore.

What about tight end?

The Rebs are also trying to secure a signature from a tight end from California in this class. Four-star Michael Ezeike was schedule to officially visit Ole Miss two weeks ago but did not make the trip due to his mother being ill. Instead, he unofficially made the trek to Los Angeles to check out UCLA this weekend. This is key because the 6’5. 220-pound target has only used four of his five allotted five official visits, therefore since he unofficially visited UCLA this weekend, he can still go back for an official this weekend before signing day.

Michael’s profile indicates that his final three are Ole Miss, Oregon, and UCLA and this will almost certainly come down to signing day. Dawson Knox will be gone after this season and it is key for Longo Ball for the Rebs to have a mismatch at the tight end position. If Ole Miss can get him to campus, then this is one to watch closely. Until then, who knows.

Rebs closing in on an offensive lineman.

Hamilton Hall has seen his recruitment pick up significantly as of late. The Atlanta, Ga. native has visited Louisville, Nebraska, and Ole Miss officially and is definitely coveted by Scott Frost and Matt Luke, who have both gone in-home with him.

But will it be the Midwest and cornfields for the 6’5, 315-pounder or will it be catfish and humidity?

Right now, his crystal ball is giving a lot of love to the Rebels, but you can’t count out Frost and his former UCF staff that are now pitching the product of 90’s dominance and flat earth for days. But, after a big weekend in Oxford, me thinks that Jack Bicknell has made quite the impression on Hall and he could be #MississippiMade sooner rather than later.

Derrick Nix zeroes in on big back.

Three-star Charles Strong was in town this weekend for his official visit. The large back from Lake Butler, Fla. is receiving a lot of red and blue love on his crystal ball despite a big-time visit in College Station last week. Jimbo Fisher is quite familiar with the 6’1, 220-pounder because he was once committed to the Noles (talkin’ bout ‘em) back when he was in Tallahassee. And now he is trying to get him to join the dog cult in Texas.

Although he isn’t the big four or five-star back that everyone fawns over, he does hold impressive offers from programs like Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Miami, and South Carolina. And speaking of Arkansas, he was slated to visit them this weekend, but will no longer make the trek to the Ozarks, per David Johnson. Usually in recruiting when a prospect takes an official visit right before signing day then calls off his final one, it is usually a good sign.

The No. 27 running back in the country ran for 2,667 yards and 33 touchdowns for Union County High School in his final two campaigns.

Former Southern Cal signee heading East?

Three-star Noah Jefferson originally signed with the Trojans as a part of their 2015 class. He then transferred to Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona and played one season there for the Matadors. He officially visited Oxford this weekend and seems to be down to the Rebels and the Gators.

Jefferson is big athlete (6’4, 220-pounds) who lined up at defensive tackle AND tight end in high school in Nevada. He has terrific quickness for his size and is naturally strong. Freddie Roach would covet him if he were to sign next week and he would certainly be a nice addition to help replace Breeland Speaks and go along nicely with All-American Benito Jones and fellow interior lineman Ross Donelly.

Right now, the Rebs hold a sizable lead over the Gators according to his crystal ball.