The most exciting moment of an otherwise bland signing day ended in disappointment for Ole Miss fans. After a brief ESPN technical problem prolonged the suspense for an extra 48 seconds, five-star linebacker Nakobe Dean, the top inside linebacker in the country, lifted the top of a Nike shoebox to reveal a Georgia Bulldogs tee shirt.
Two years after missing out on generational running back talent Cam Akers, Ole Miss has once again missed on the top recruit in the state of Mississippi.
Not that it’s particularly surprising at a time when the program is reeling from NCAA sanctions, a 5-7 record and the firing of its defensive coordinator. The bigger surprise might be that Matt Luke still has Ole Miss ranked in the top 20 recruiting classes this late in the game.
But Dean’s decision, which came moments after Horn Lake teammate Raydarious Jones spurned Ole Miss and donned an LSU cap, still stings. Rebel fans had reason for optimism: his brother plays for Ole Miss and he’s made more unofficial visits to Oxford than anywhere else. An Ole Miss commitment would have been surprising but not altogether shocking.
It’s hard to understate the potential magnitude how significantly Deans’ commitment would have impacted Ole Miss. Luke’s program is in dire need of momentum and even more desperate for defensive playmakers. Dean would have delivered both.