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What does the 2019 early signing period mean for Ole Miss?

Lane Kiffin’s commitment warpath begins tomorrow.

Kevin Harrish-USA TODAY Sports

The college football early signing period opens tomorrow.

As the lull between the regular season and bowl season hits, everywhere you turn within the college football world, coaches, analysts and fans alike are heating up over recruiting. In Oxford that means reporters are stalking hotels for high schoolers on visits, writers are beefing over access to information, message boards are being set on fire and people who shouldn’t be tweeting ‘croots are doing just that. (DON’T TWEET ‘CROOTS)

But why is this random Wednesday in December so important?

To explain the longstanding tension over where a high schooler chooses to continue his playing career requires a conversation of region, class and amateurism that is deeply rooted within college football, of which scholars have written books and essays aplenty.

But the bottom line is this, and it’s simple: if your school gets the best players in the nation, it is presumably better than other schools that did not get the best players in the nation.

As a result of this idea, recruiting is at the forefront of a program’s success, and signing day is when all of the in-home meetings, official visit execution, and countless hours on the phone comes to fruition for the coaching staff. It determines whether your program is able to make its facilities, its people, and its vision more enticing than your competitors.

Now in its third iteration, the early signing period adds an interesting wrinkle to the equation. This year, the first early signing day is tomorrow, and it will continue through Friday. During that three-day stretch recruits have the option to sign and send their National Letters of Intent before National Signing Day. As a result, some who sign early will enroll early to the university so he can learn the new system and compete in spring ball. If they elect to hold their NLIs, they will wait until February to sign.

Under new head coach Lane Kiffin, this early period comes with a lot of excitement. It is the first opportunity to make a splash in the new era of Ole Miss football, and get the program back on track after uncertainty amongst recruits clouded the firing of Matt Luke.

From the moment Kiffin landed in Oxford, he has been on the recruiting trail. Hours after being formally introduced as head coach, he was in Horn Lake, and he has been on a handful of trips across the south, even in fellow SEC West towns. Along the way, he has not been shy about his desire to flip players with eyes on other universities.

In addition to his strong Twitter game, Oxford, the Grove, and all of the facilities that Ole Miss has to offer, Kiffin has himself quite a resume on which to sell. If a hesitant recruit is looking for the coach best for his success and development, it certainly doesn’t hurt to let him know that Kiffin has three Heisman Trophy winners and a handful of National Championships under his belt. And if that isn’t enough, Kiffin has begun to assemble a staff of player-minded coaches, many of whom have faced the same decision not too long ago.

Even with all the excitement that is building around the program, it’s important to be realistic. It has been less than 10 days since Kiffin took over as head coach, and relationship building takes time.

Though 77 percent of prospects nationally inked early last year, tomorrow’s class is different for a program in transition like Ole Miss. It will be the meat and potatoes of the class, if you will. Some of the bigger names will hold off until February to sign, while the strong, but not-so-flashy verbal commits and confident three-star/low four-star athletes will join in signing early.

For tomorrow to be considered a good day, Ole Miss needs to retain its current verbal commitments and sway a couple of undecided targets. For it to be considered a great day, Ole Miss will secure each of its undecided targets. For it to be an incredible day, high-profile verbal commits to other schools will flip their decision to Ole Miss. Expectations should not reach toward the extreme, as it will be a good day for Kiffin and company to build on.

Here are some of the targets that Ole Miss will have an eye on tomorrow and into Friday:

4-star ATH Jeremiah Pegues

Deciding between: Ole Miss, Alabama, and Auburn

4-star DT Josaih Hayes

Deciding between: Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Auburn

4-star OG Chris Morris

Verbal: Texas A&M

Also considering: Ole Miss, Alabama, and Tennessee

4-star DT Jah-Marien Latham

Verbal: Alabama

Also considering: Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, and Tennessee

3-star S Derek Bermudez

Deciding between: Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Illinois, and Miami

3-star WR Alante Brown

Deciding between: Ole Miss, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, and Missouri

3-star OT Tobias Braun

Deciding between: Ole Miss and Florida State

3-star CB Lakevias Daniel

Deciding between: Ole Miss and Louisville

3-star OLB Jakivuan Brown

Verbal: Ole Miss

3-star DT DeSanto Rollins

Verbal: Ole Miss

3-star OT Eli Acker

Verbal: Ole Miss

3-star QB Kade Renfro

Verbal: Ole Miss

3-star WR Kris Abrams-Draine

Verbal: Ole Miss

3-star ILB Daylen Gill

Verbal: Ole Miss

3-star ATH An’Darius Coffey

Verbal: Ole Miss

3-star RB Kentrel Bullock

Verbal: Ole Miss