National Signing Day 2018 came and went and it couldn't have gone much better for Ole Miss on the offensive side of things. Matt Luke and his staff had a quick turnaround back in December before reeling in one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Now, with another couple months on the job, they’ve hauled in a top 30 class. All while on double secret probation.
Let’s grade how the staff did offensively with just a few months under their belts.
4-star Matt Corral
Not much more can be said about the California kid. The Rebels ID’d their man and flipped him from Florida just as soon as they could get him on campus. The 6’2, 196-pound signal caller arrived in Oxford for the spring semester and will go through spring practice likely getting snaps with the second string. Getting a quarterback for the future—one who can take over after Jordan Ta’amu leaves—was a major win for Phil Longo and Co.
Running Backs: B-
3-star Scottie Phillips
Ole Miss got its thunder and lightning all in one with juco signee Scottie Phillips. Phillips, a 5’9, 205-pound back out of Jones County Junior College arrived along with Corral in January. He was rated the number two prospect at his position in junior college, amassing over 2,200 yards and 27 touchdowns during his time in Ellisville. Expect the extra practice time to give Phillips a head start on earning the majority of carries this season. Look for Phillips to shoot to the top of the depth chart entering fall camp.
The Rebels really needed to sign a larger running back class this year. The signing day loss of Charles Strong hurt from a pure numbers perspective, whether or not Strong could’ve played in year one remained up for debate. Still, a tough one to swallow on signing day.
Wide Receivers: A+
4-star Elijah Moore
4-star Miles Battle
3-star Demarcus Gregory
Whether the nWo would bring in a huge signing day haul was never in doubt. Jacob Peeler adds size with Battle and Gregory and speed with Elijah Moore in the slot position. Miles Battle is 6’4, 190-pounds and chose Ole Miss over Oregon. His final list included a who’s who of pass heavy teams. That he chose the good guys shows what recruits thing of Jacob Peeler.
Peeler also brought in former Georgia commit Elijah Moore. He hails from football powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas and has already enrolled on campus in Oxford. Again, that extra time with the program should give Moore a head start towards taking some of the receptions Van Jefferson left behind. Fortunately for the Rebs, Moore is known for his good hands and running ability in space.
The Rebels also brought in 6’3, 204-pound Demarcus Gregory. The lowest-rated receiver in the class, DMG’s size and speed will remind folks of Quincy Adeboyejo. He possesses top end speed and measurables nearly identical to the Baltimore Ravens pass catcher. That comparison alone tells you what kind of talent this staff is bringing in to join the nWo.
Offensive Line: C+
3-star Jalen Cunningham
3-star Hamilton Hall
Jack Bicknell Jr. was brought in back in July for his extensive coaching experience which included numerous stops in the NFL. That he hauled in a massive—literally and figuratively—offensive line class is just a bonus.
The Rebels needed a big haul considering Ole Miss will likely lose four of its five starters along the offensive line after the 2018 season. While they got it from a size perspective, the number of signees could hurt down the road. Typically coaches like to sign between three and four lineman a class, but with a mass exodus expected at the end of next season, I’m sure Matt Luke would’ve liked to have gotten those numbers up.
The class is led by tackle Hamilton Hall out of Chamblee Charter in Atlanta, and Jalen Cunningham a 6’6, 345-pound lineman from St. Clair County High in Alabama. Cunningham is rated as a defensive tackle but will likely side with the offense once he arrives in Oxford. He chose the Rebels over the home state Crimson Tide. Cunningham has the size to play on the interior but the frame to cut weight and move to the outside.
Hamilton Hall is a first-guy-off-the-bus type the day he steps foot on campus. Scott Frost came in late for the 6’5, 315-pound tackle but the Rebels held off one of college football’s hottest coaches for his services. Hall possesses a quick first step and incredible upper body strength which along with his frame should translate quickly to the SEC.
Short of landing Charles Strong, I’m really not sure what Peeler, Nix, Bicknell, and Matt Luke could have done to improve at the offensive skill positions. It was a rinse and repeat year for the nWo, signing three high-level receivers who should all contribute next fall. The running back room may not be where Luke would like in year two, so look for that position to be one of desperate need as the recruiting cycle looks towards the 2019 class. Especially since all signs point to 2019 4-star running back commit Jerrion Ealy going pro in baseball.
They struck out on a couple of their top offensive line targets, but still held it together with two high ceiling signees at the guard position. This staff was known for its ability to identify and develop offensive talent and the 2018 class seems to be more of the same.