Ole Miss’ top target, five-star inside linebacker Nakobe Dean, visited Athens, Ga. last weekend for Georgia’s game against Auburn. The Bulldogs have long-been thought to be the favorite in his recruitment, leading his 247Sports Crystal Ball for some time now, but Ole Mill still lingers in second place.
The nation’s No. 16 player came and went in the Peach State and didn’t commit. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s over for Georgia, most including yours truly, believe that Dean will take this all the way to the early signing period and will make his decision known for everyone then.
So who else is in the picture?
Jeff Sentell of Dawg Nation spoke with Dean and his mother Neketta in an in-depth interview about his recruiting process and they seem to be focused on five schools if you are tracking their whereabouts recently.
Dean has been to LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss more than those other schools. Alabama would probably come next after that. Georgia would probably be next in line in terms of visit frequency.
Those visits include unofficial visits as well, mind you. He has visited Oxford 12 times in 2018 unofficially and plans on visiting Ole Miss at the end of the month before the early signing period. But, that will be after he officially visits Texas A&M and LSU. He has already wrapped up officials to Alabama (June 15th), Auburn (November 2nd), and Georgia (November 10th) and will spend his last two visits in College Station and Baton Rouge.
And somewhere in between those two he will make his way unofficially to Oxford.
Does Ole Miss still have a shot?
Of course. He’s still undecided, right? The longer he goes without committing the better it is for the Rebels. Nakobe is a smart kid, he was at one point even pondering going to Stanford. So you can best believe that he is someone who is going to do his due diligence when it comes to comparing and contrasting, pro and con’n, good and bad’n each prospective school.
Now, in terms of what Matt Luke and the Rebels do on the field, that’s a different story. We’ve been pretty adamant on this site and on Podcast Rebellion that it’s going to take a decent season from the Rebels to be able to entice Nakobe and other elite prospects to consider them. But, there is always the outside chance that they replace Wesley McGriff at the end of the year with someone who impresses Dean and would make coming to Oxford a real possibility.
You also have to factor in the amount of times he comes to campus. Whether or not you think Ole Miss has a legitimate shot to sign him, the fact that he continues to show up time after time certainly says something about their chances. And Jon Sumrall’s ability to turn Mohamed Sanogo into a pretty dang good SEC linebacker has to have gotten his attention at least a little bit. Especially since he is his position coach and main recruiter outside Maurice Harris.
Can a teammate help out with reeling him in?
Dean’s high school teammate and four-star athlete Raydarious Jones has been crystal ball’d to the Rebels five times and could be joining the class soon. The 6’2, 160-pound quarterback/defensive back has the ability to be an impact dude if he were to pick Ole Miss.
Especially since they will be replacing Ken Webster and former All-SEC DB Jaylon Jones will be coming off knee surgery. He is a legit 4.4 runner who has the length and athleticism you need on that island in this conference and he is a high priority for this staff this cycle.
But what does that mean for Nakobe? He has never come out and said that they want to go somewhere together, but one could surmise it wouldn’t hurt to sign Dean’s classmate in order to gain his favor, right?
If Jones were to pick the Rebs before Dean decides, could it give Ole Miss a leg up on the others? We unfortunately won’t know until he makes his decision public on December 19th.
So where will Dean end up?
I honestly think the Rebels will need to make a splash defensive coordinator hire to make this a real thing. If not, you could see Nakobe end up in the SEC East with Georgia or SHOCKER in Tuscaloosa with the rest of the five-stars playing for Nick Saban, just because.
I’m not so sure that if McGriff was retained that Dean would want to risk that as a final destination. I’m sure he likes Crime Dog just fine, but the defense has been downright awful this season and more times than not terrible units don’t just get better without changing anything.
So as of this writing, I personally think Ole Miss is on the outside looking in at Dean. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is ZERO chance he ends up in Luke’s 2019 class. If you remember, we wrote about No. 1 players in the Magnolia State and how they rarely leave the state’s borders. If Luke and his staff were to convince Dean to stay and rep the ‘ssip, be the leader in the locker room who would be remembered for turning things around, and to sign with them, it would be the story of the 2019 recruiting cycle.
Buckle up for the homestretch.