The narrative has been in full effect for quite some time now. Ole Miss has struggled mightily to sign big-time linebackers and the position has been one of need for the last several years. Despite signing some impressive three-stars with better than average offer sheets, the second level of the defense has been a weakness that is as glaring as can be.
Well, linebackers coach Jon Sumrall is aiming to fix this conundrum quick, fast, and in a hurry. And his latest addition could be the anchor he is looking for.
Three-star middle linebacker Eric Jeffries from Lafayette High School has verbally committed to the Ole Miss Rebels and I would imagine that Sumrall and the rest of the staff couldn’t be more happier. Despite a season-ending injury while attending Oxford High School in 2015 and being forced to sit out last year at Lafayette after transferring across town, he has burst onto the scene after running roughshod at the Rebels’ Elite Camp this summer.
His performance earned him a camp invite to Texas and an early offer from Louisiana-Lafayette. And yes, I get it, the Cajuns aren’t college football’s elite when it comes to recruiting, but his frame and camp performances have programs like Auburn, Mississippi State, and Texas keeping tabs. And since he has not played a down of football in two years, if and when he begins to tear up 5A football in the Magnolia, I would imagine other programs will come calling.
Jeffries talked with Ole Miss Spirit’s David Johnson about his decision and seems pretty firm with his verbal pledge.
“Ole Miss is just home,” he said. “I’m from here and I’m from Mississippi. I felt like now was good timing. There’s no better time and no better opportunity.
”My family likes Ole Miss and I like it. There is a great family environment there. They made me feel at home. Ole Miss is my home away from home, even though it is home.”
The No. 102 outside linebacker in the country also stated that he has a “great” relationship with new linebackers coach Jon Sumrall and that he played a significant role in his decision.
And no worries about missing a few years of varsity football, Eric tells Johnson that he has been hard at work with a familiar face.
”This makes me feel awesome. I have worked so hard for this. My training with Derrick Burgess, my parents, my coaches...it was a team effort to get me this far,” said Jeffries.
The newest member of the 2019 class will graduate early and enroll in January 2019 for the Spring semester.
How does he fit in?
As mentioned above, there isn’t much footage out there of Jeffries, but the build says it all. At 6’3, 228-pounds, he is a load. And perfect for the middle linebacker spot in the Ole Miss defense. He was in Austin, Tex. earlier this summer and looked to be capable of covering running backs in the open field.
This is something that has been seen in spurts in Oxford but not on a regular basis and at such a high level. Eric is an impact-type athlete who can make a difference as soon as he steps on campus. And his teammate, four-star athlete Brandon Turnage is another impact guy who is looking to return to form post-injury for Lafayette in 2018.
With Jeffries now in the boat, one can only hope that the No. 7 athlete in the country is right behind him. If this happens, other blue-chippers in the Magnolia State could be close behind.
This 2019 linebacker will join the room that now holds quite a few physical specimens despite their lack of production on the field. If Sumrall can get it together there, these dudes will be looking to make a splash with Jeffries.
- Willi Hibbler - 6’3, 227
- Donta Evans - 6’1, 236
- Josh Clarke - 6’2, 217
- Zikerrion Baker - 6’1, 216
- Mohamed Sanogo - 6’2, 228
- Diwun Black - 6’4, 219
- Sam Williams - 6’5, 250
- Ashanti Cistrunk - 6’2, 205
Not a bad crew to work with physically. Here’s to them putting it altogether mentally.