Back in 2016, there was no other wide receiver wanted more than Savannah, Ga. five-star Demetris Robertson. The No. 1 wide receiver in the country and No. 13 player overall had his choice of suitors ranging from the hometown Georgia Bulldogs to the Alabama Crimson Tide to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
But, he shocked everyone when he chose to sign with the Cal Golden Bears of the Pac 12 extemely late in the recruiting cycle (May 1st), thanks in large part to the recruiting job done by then-wide receiver coach Jacob Peeler...who is now at Ole Miss.
Barring a waiver from the always-understanding National Collegiate Athletics Association, Robertson will need to choose a destination and sit out a year before being able to compete. But, that is literally a perfect set-up if he were to pick the University of Mississippi Rebels and re-up with Coach Peeler and the nWo.
Now that he has made it public via Twitter that he is leaving Berkeley, Calif. for personal reasons, one could surmise that Ole Miss has a damn good shot at landing the former Savannah Christian Prep standout with Peeler in Oxford coaching up the nWo. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman seems to think the Rebels and West Virginia are out in front due to the ties with Peeler and Jack Spavital, Robertson’s old offensive coordinator at Cal.
And yes, you did read that correctly, Demetris did not sign until May, three months after National Signing Day in 2016. But, have no fear, SB Nation’s Alex Kirshner is heat to remind us just how wacky Robertson’s recruitment was:
Georgia was widely considered the favorite to land him under then-new head coach Kirby Smart, who was on the Alabama staff that had recruited Robertson when he committed there. Robertson signed financial-aid paperwork with multiple schools, which made his recruitment an unusual public spectacle even by five-star standards. Coaches, like Smart at UGA, were able to publicly woo Robertson without violating NCAA regulations.
Despite his five-star status, Robertson didn’t see his goals of playing for three-to-four years in the blue and gold and lighting it up. Sonny Dykes was fired and replaced by a defensive-minded coach, and the pass-happy OC Spavital left for WVU. And after missing most of 2017 with a lower-body injury, Robertson found himself at a crossroads. But, despite all that, he still turned in a freshman season that saw him haul in 50 catches for 767 yards and seven touchdowns, earning him Freshman All-American honors from USA Today.
Oh, and did I mention he broke freshman records set by NFL receivers DeSean Jackson and Keenan Allen? Yeah, he did that, too.
With all that said, does Ole Miss have a shot? You’re damn right. Peeler is coaching at Ole Miss now and Robertson turned down overtures from Alabama, Georgia, and Notre Dame to go 2,713 miles away from home.
One reason: Jacob Peeler.
Peeler obviously hit it off with Robertson and was able to pry him away from the SEC and other college football blue bloods, but it wasn’t just the talent that Peeler saw in the former U.S. Army All-American, his work ethic played a huge role as well.
This is what Peeler told me once a long time ago about the kind of kid Demetris Robertson is: "The most humble kid I’ve ever coached. People joke about kids being the last off the field—no joke, he was the last off every single day..he was always staying after to work on stuff." https://t.co/0q3aO3ELqs— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) June 21, 2018
Ole Miss is losing DaMarkus Lodge after this season and almost certainly going to be looking to replace the duo of A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf, assuming they bolt for the NFL. Robertson would not only replace the star power, but his play-making ability would be a unique addition to Phil Longo’s offense.
At 6’0, 175-pounds, he isn’t going to be the big, physical specimen on the outside like Brown or Metcalf, but he can move around inside and outside or even the backfield. In high school, 71 percent of his yards were on the ground as a running back. the U.S. Army All-American was recruited by almost everyone as a reciever, though, and did not disappoint in his only full season at Cal.
Looking at his former top schools list and the proximity to home, you have to think that Kirby Smart and Georgia are going to be in the thick of this race, as well as Alabama. The Dawgs will lose Terry Godwin after 2018 but still have Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley will still have eligibility left. And the Tide will have virtually everyone back in the fold. So as it stands right now, Ole Miss will have possibly three gaping holes in its offense that will need filling.
If Robertson were to pick the Rebels, that would mean that Ole Miss signed the No. 1, 4, and 16 receivers in the 2016 class (No. 35 Tre Nixon transferred to UCF). Not a bad sales pitch to make to prospective recruits, huh? In fact, right now, the Rebels can point at a treasure trove of current NFL talent at the receiver position:
- Donte Moncrief
- Laquon Treadwell
- Cody Core
- Evan Engram (yeah, we’ll count him, too)
I’m not going to count out Peeler, are you?
And I’m certainly not going to discount A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf because they can apparently do anything. Especially when all three became very close on the recruiting trail when they all almost went to Berkeley together two years ago.