Ole Miss’ recruiting haul during the Early Signing Period was underwhelming. Not bad per se—the Rebels held on to all their commits and came out the other side ranked 22nd in the country—but certainly not exciting. Ole Miss hats were on the table for only a couple of the nationally-televised announcement ceremonies and neither of those hats were picked up.
The climax of Wednesday’s action came when five-star Nakobe Dean, who lives 45 minutes from Oxford and has a brother playing for Ole Miss, lifted a red Georgia Bulldogs shirt out of a Nike shoe box. The 48-second delay caused by ESPN technical difficulties was the most suspense Rebel fans experienced all day.
If 2016 was the climactic episode of Breaking Bad, Wednesday was a daytime rerun of Mike and Molly.
But recruiting season isn’t over. With mid-December’s Early Signing Period in the rearview, Matt Luke’s program, fresh off the high-profile hiring of offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez, has its sights set on Feb. 6, the traditional National Signing Day. While most of the country’s talent inked during the early period, there are still key Ole Miss targets out there.
Four of them—two of which are committed to the Rebs—will take the field Friday night for the Under Armour All-America Game.
How to watch
When: Thursday, Jan. 3
Time: 5 p.m. CT
Recruits to watch
5-star DT Ishmael Sopsher
The deciding factor in the 6’4, 335-pounder’s decision will be whether a school has room to offer his brother, a two-star JUCO player.
“If a school does not offer us both, then I am not even going to consider signing with them in February,” Sopsher recently told Chad Simmons of Rivals.
It sounds like the Rebels are trying to free up a spot (“I know Ole Miss is looking into it,” Sopsher told Rivals), but the only school that’s extended a formal offer to both brothers is LSU. Ed O is the clear frontrunner here, though Luke’s hiring of defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre could provide a spark. Sopsher will get the opportunity to meet Ole Miss’ new DC in person during his official visit to Oxford the last week of January (CROOTAPALOOZA).
There’s no doubt that Sopsher, a hulking prototypical 3-4 nose tackle, would go a long way toward’s MacIntyre’s rebuild.
4-star RB Jerrion Ealy (Ole Miss commit)
The country’s No. 4 running back has been committed to the Rebels since last year’s signing day but plans to take some official visits before signing in February. He visited Starkville back in December and heads to Clemson on January 12th before finishing the tour at Ole Miss on January 26th.
Of course, all of that is probably pointless: most think the stud baseball prospect will forgo college football altogether and end up a top-10 pick in this year’s MLB Draft.
Which means Thursday might be your first and only chance to watch the dude play football.
4-star WR Jonathan Mingo (Ole Miss commit)
The only top-250 prospect to sign with the Rebels during the early period was wideout Dannis Jackson. With Ealy likely bound for pro baseball, Luke’s only chance to nab a second could be Mingo.
Ranked the 205th overall recruit in the country, the 6’2, 200-pound pass catcher could team up with Jackson to create the kind of big-bodied duo Ole Miss loses in A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf. Mingo has been committed to the Rebels since July but his decision not to sign early has caused some consternation. In addition to an official to Oxford, he’ll travel to Starkville and Tallahassee this month, though he insists he’s firm with Ole Miss.
Can #HailState signee Jarrian Jones @7reasons1k get #OleMiss commit Jonathan Mingo @Og_Mingo_ to join him in Starkville? Mingo will take visits to #FSU and Miss St in January. @RivalsJohnson @MSUBulldogBlitz @Rivals pic.twitter.com/LtSNizfntk— Chad Simmons (@ChadSimmons_) December 29, 2018
My prediction? It goes all the way to signing day but he sticks with the Rebels.
4-star CB Maurice Hampton (LSU commit)
The Memphis product has been pledged to LSU for over two years but is still exploring his options. He officially visited Auburn in December, has a trip out west to see UCLA and will complete his tour in Oxford on January 25th. Despite his commitment to the Tigers, his 247Sports’ Crystal Ball is 50/50 with Ole Miss.
Like Ealy, Hampton was named an Under Armour All-American in both baseball and football, though he seems much more likely to make it to college to play both sports. The 6’0, 205-pounder played both as a senior but his future seems to be on the defensive side of the ball as a cornerback.
Where does he end up? This one is tough because you do have the outside shot that he gets drafted and plays baseball. But, with his longstanding commitment to Ed Orgeron and defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, I think he sticks with it and signs with LSU over Ole Miss on signing day.