Matt Luke and his staff have quite the task ahead of them this season, the year of our Lord, 2018. Not only will they need to continue to prove to fans, alumni, and the administration that they can win, but recruits are paying very close attention to the progress they have made since going 6-6 and defeating Mississippi State to close out the 2017 campaign.
Luke’s first signing class finished 31st in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, which is quite the miracle all things considered. Phil Longo got Jordan Ta’amu’s successor in four-star Matt Corral, Wesley McGriff began the rebuilding process for his duct tape defense, signing five linebackers, and Jacob Peeler got him some more nWo candidates with the signing of not one, but two four-star receiverds.
But, now, the attention turns to the 2019 class and the STACKED state of Mississippi.
Ole Miss has been extremely busy hosting dozens and dozens of prospects the past few weeks so let’s take a look at who stopped by, who impressed, and who got an offer.
Four-star Ole Miss commit Grant Tisdale made the trip for his official visit and brought a special guest with him (we’ll get into that in a minute). The Allen, Tex. native chose the Rebs over Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies and Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, two incredible coaches when it comes to molding quarterbacks, thus further proving Longo’s worth on the recruiting trail in year two. And not only is he a fantastic coup in the class, but he is staying busy recruiting for the Rebs and Luke and Co.
There were also a few 2020 targets who showed up in Oxford. Brandon, Miss. target Will Rogers camped with his teammates and dominated the 7v7 tournament. The 6’2, 183-pounder doesn’t hold an offer yet from either in-state school, but he certainly has their attention after winning some hardware.
The rising junior tossed for 2,476 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Bulldogs who are looking to turn in a much better performance in 2018 after going just 7-6 last season.
Four-star Jacolby Criswell also made the trip over across the river from Morrilton, Ark. and impressed enough to earn an offer from Longo. The 6’1, 203-pounder is the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 class and holds early notable offers from Georgia and Oklahoma State. As a sophomore, he tallied 3,074 total yards and 34 total touchdowns.
Lastly and probably the most important prospect on campus at the position, 2021 quarterback Aaron McLaughlin made it back to Oxford. Again. He visited unofficially earlier this spring and was back to take in the camp sessions and meet with Longo and the rest of the staff once more. The Buford, Ga. signal caller will be one of the most sought-after recruits in the country in the coming years, but as we all know, quarterbacks like to end things early and begin building a class around them.
The rising sophomore already holds big-time offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Michigan, Penn State, Southern Cal, and UCLA, yet oddly enough doesn’t have an offer from in-state Georgia. Despite Kirby Smart and company slow-playing the Wolves’ starter under center, he will continue to be the most coveted prospect in the 2021 class by most everyone. He’s already 6’4, 225-pounds and judging by the frequent trips to the 662, seems fascinated by Longo’s system. So this should be fun.
Derrick Nix already has his No. 1 target in the fold in Jerrion Ealy, but as we all know, he will most likely be a first-rounder in the 2019 MLB Draft so his status is unknown to say the least. But, there are plenty of other options at the position outside of the Jackson Prep four-star.
Arguably the No. 1 target for Nix and Ole Miss behind Ealy is Lausanne’s four-star, Eric Gray. The Memphis, Tenn. native briefly transferred to IMG Academy in Florida before returning to the Bluff City and now the Rebs find themselves in the thick of it with Arkansas, Michigan, and Penn State. But, despite the tough competition, Gray told Rebel Grove’s Russell Johnson that he has newfound interest in the Rebs and proved that was no joke by making the quick trip down I-55 to Oxford.
He has unofficially visited already this Spring and seems to like the thought of playing in Longo’s system, giving him the freedom to line up in the backfield and also the slot where he also does plenty of damage for the Lynx.
Class of 2019 RB Eric Gray (@ericdgray1) from here at Lausanne Collegiate showing off the footwork in the slot this morning against fellow 2019 Lausanne DB Erek Campbell (@ea_sy_e_23) pic.twitter.com/JdaBOsrJZX— Russell Johnson (@RivalsJohnson) May 15, 2018
The 5’10, 191-pounder was just named the Commercial Appeal’s Offensive Football Player of the Year after leading Lausanne to another state title, running for 3,151(!) yards and 45 touchdowns.
Peeler might have his best group yet in 2018. Future first-rounder A.J. Brown is almost certainly gone after this season and DaMarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf will more than likely join him and be taken in the NFL Draft as well. But, there are plenty of options out there in this cycle to help restock the proverbial cupboard.
Four-star Sumrall, Miss. native Dannis Jackson traveled north to The Velvet Ditch and is arguably one of the Rebs’ top targets at the position. The Under Armour All-American finished his junior season with 1,157 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns while also chipping in four interceptions on defense.
The 6’1, 180-pounder reminds me of Shay Hodge on film, unassuming on the scale but just a playmaker who gets open and utilizes strong hands to make play after play. He is a phenomenal athlete who also plays baseball for the Bobcats and would be a humongous get in-state.
Speaking of in-state targets, Brandon, Miss. three-star Jonathan Mingo also made it up to Oxford for the camp and took home the 7v7 trophy with teammate and QB, Will Rogers. The 6’2, 200-pound two-way player will play receiver at the next level and already holds offers from the likes of Auburn, Georgia, and Notre Dame. Peeler wants him in the worst way and as of now, things look good.
Another position group that needs a big haul in this class is the big fellas up front. Jack Bicknell really needs a big cycle and he had plenty of top targets on campus these last few weeks to choose from. The aforementioned secret visitor thanks to quarterback commit Tisdale was none other than four-star Oklahoma commit E.J. Ndoma-Ogar.
Now, can the Rebs complete the flip? Who knows? But, despite a verbal pledge to Lincoln Riley, the 6’4, 322-pounder still made the flight over with his high school teammates to check out Oxford.
As you can see in the picture above, three other big-time targets made the trip as well. Four-star Darius Thomas (far right) and three-stars Nick Broeker and Carter Colquitt (two on the left) all visited The Magnolia State for the second time this year respectively.
Thomas, a 6’7, 320-pounder from Jonesboro, Ark. made his return trip and it was an official one as well. He has already been to Memphis officially and plans on visiting Georgia officially as well. Someone needs to step up and replace Greg Little and I think Thomas knows that.
The two three-stars, Broeker and Colquitt, are viable candidates to replace Javon Patterson and Jordan Sims at the guard position. Broeker appears to be down to Illinois, Michigan State, and the Rebs per his Crystal Ball. And Colquitt, a Buford, Ga. native, seems the most likely, as of now, to join the 2019 class. And he would be quite the get if he did.
Not only would it be nice to make an inroad with a top target in one of the hottest states in the Southeast, but he has a few teammates that the Rebs would like to get while they’re at it. Fellow lineman and three-star Reece McIntyre made a trip to Oxford for the camp and then immediately released a top five, Ole Miss included.
Both Buford trench-men stand 6’6, 290-pounds and would be welcomed additions to Matt Luke’s second class in Oxford.
The top target who made it to Oxford on the other side of the line was four-star Byron Young who is apparently starting to look at Ole Miss more and more. The big man from Laurel, Miss. might favor Alabama per his 247 profile, but his Crystal Ball has the Rebs out front. The 6’4, 279-pounder is a can’t miss prospect who Freddie Roach and McGriff must have to rebuild the Landshark brand.
Joining him in Oxford could be Mississippi State commit, De’Monte Russell. The Bulldogs’ commit joined Joe Moorhead’s class earlier this Spring, but he has certainly been also listening to Roach and Luke when they make their sales pitch to him. The 6’4, 216-pounder is thin for a defensive end but his athleticism and speed is what sets him apart and is something that can’t be overlooked.
Also, former Ole Miss great Shay Hodge is now the offensive coordinator at Russell’s Provine High School so that is another thing to keep an eye on.
Looking at out-of-state targets at the position, Zion Logue might be one that Roach and Co. would like to lock up now before he blows up anymore than he already has. The Tennessee native camped and wrecked everyone. And that’s putting it lightly.
At 6’6 and 287-pounds added an Ole Miss offer back in May and has since added offers from Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. It will be a tall task now that other SEC titans are involved, but maybe that early offer will be enough.
Finally, Wetumpka, Ala. native Patrick Lucas made his return trip to Mississippi and appears to be quite fond of Roach and the Rebels. The three-star traveled West with his family and seems to have enjoyed himself. The 6’3, 280-pounder has almost certainly noticed the success Roach had in his home state last cycle and might be looking to join the #MississippiMade movement in this one. Auburn, Florida, and Texas A&M have offered among others but right now it appears to be a Bama/Ole Miss fight.
The jokes have been flying for years now. But the past few weeks have silenced said jokes a little. For now.
Five-star Nakobe Dean made it to Oxford for the second session. It was his fifth documented visit to the campus this summer. The Horn Lake, Miss. native is cleary the top target for the 2019 class and he continues to show up constantly. At this point, that is all you can ask for.
I have said it multiple times, but I believe Dean to be far more important than former 2017 target and current Florida State running back, Cam Akers.
Other than Dean, there was quite the West Coast vibe at the Manning Center at the linebacker position with four-star Daniel Heimuli and three-star Miki Ah You making the trip. The Menlo-Atherton (Calif.) inside backer is built like a machine (6’2, 220) and would more than likely start day one. The Rebs face stiff competition from the Trojans and Bruins but the No. 12 inside linebacker unofficially visiting is huge to say the least.
Great unofficial at ole miss !— 5 (@DanielHeimuli) June 11, 2018
❤️ HOTTY TODDY pic.twitter.com/MN4fcOMhnw
Ah You is not only a member of the All-Name team but the dude is a freak on the field. The second unofficial linebacker visitor FROM HAWAII showed up to camp and blew everyone away. And he has been vocal on Twitter about his admiration for the Rebs after they offered a family member.
The point remains, they didn’t receive a commitment, but new linebackers coach Jon Sumrall got a kid from the islands to come to Oxford on his accord. I expect Miki to make a return trip this fall for a game.
And, yes, the 6’1, 220-pounder would play a lot, immediately.
I mean, just look at this.
The other impressive prospect who passed the eye test and then some is Northeast Mississippi Community College linebacker Sam Williams. The 6’5, 250-pounder from Montgomery, Ala. has quickly risen up the crootin boards and holds offers from Auburn, Oregon, and Tennessee among others.
Now, he has released a top five that includes Florida Atlantic, too. The No. 6 overall JUCO player in the country impressed just about everyone in Oxford and would be a big-time commitment if he went forward with it publicly.
Nakobe Dean has visited Oxford quite a few times this year but the leader in that category is Lafayette, Miss. four-star athlete Brandon Turnage. Despite being committed to Alabama since December, the 6’1, 185-pounder has visited the Manning Center seven(!) times this summer. The No. 7 athlete in the country might be recovering from a few leg injuries but the athleticism and play making ability speak for themselves.
Turnage will almost certainly add instant credibility to new defensive backs coach Charles Clark’s reputation on the recruiting trail and would be the most athletic defensive back Ole Miss has signed since Nick Brassell out of South Panola in 2011. And with all that said, myself and most others think Brandon will flip before it’s all said and done and be a Rebel.
Mainly because he continues to show up on campus time and time again.
Another in-state product that is on Clark’s radar is recent hot commodity, Deantre Prince. The three-star from Charleston has received offers from Georgia, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M in the past few months, but still favors the Rebs.
Blessed To Receive A Offer From The University Of Mississippi ..... pic.twitter.com/bAt1ypWFtf— Deantre Prince (@prince_deantre) February 20, 2018
Both Clark and secondaries coach Jason Jones know that replacing Ken Webster and Jaylon Jones is going to be a tall task and Prince has the goods and all-around ability to make plays. The No. 62 athlete in the country does it all for Charleston, running for 401 yards, hauling in 15 receptions for 352 yards, 14 total touchdowns, and collecting 25 tackles as a junior.
These two Magnolia State products are at the top of the #MississippiMade wish list, no doubt, and should be Rebels before it is all said and done.
Now that the camp circuit is over, the attention now turns to senior seasons and official visits during the year. Luke and his staff are well-aware of how important this class is and as long as the camp circuit is any indication of which way this class is going, all signs point to this year’s signing class being better than the 2018 version.
But, as you all know, stranger things have happened.