After a dismal 2018 season on defense, there’s no question that Ole Miss’ recruiting emphasis has been placed on fixing that side of the ball. That continued in the early morning of National Signing Day when Matt Luke flipped a big-time interior D-lineman from the Gulf Coast.
That three-star defensive tackle LeDarrius Cox flipped his verbal commitment from Tennessee isn’t a surprise. But most thought that flip would be Auburn. Instead, the 6’4, 305-pound behemoth picked Ole Miss during his announcement ceremony on Wednesday.
The No. 42 defensive tackle in the country committed to Jeremy Pruitt and the Vols in April, but the heat was turned up by the Rebels and it eventually paid off.
To this point, three-star Patrick Lucas was the only interior defensive linemen in the 2019 class. The addition of Cox is a huge for new defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre, who inherits a defense that ranked 116th nationally in rushing efficiency last season and badly needs interior playmakers who can disrupt rushing lanes.
How does he fit in?
Cox is your prototypical run-stopper in the A-gap between the guards. He’s extremely strong at the point of attack and keeps his feet moving and eyes up when pursuing the football. His initial punch is a good one and he’s surprisingly light on his feet for someone pushing more than three bills.
Cox will to get pressure on the quarterback and collect tackles for loss, something that came quite seldom for Ole Miss in 2018—the Rebels ranked 119th in adjusted sack rate and 108th in the rate of tackles made at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Ole Miss’ defensive tackle group could be a stout one in 2019. 2018 signees K.D. Hill, Jalen Cunningham and Quentin Bivens are all going to need to push the upperclassmen for playing time. If Cox and the aforementioned Lucas can get to campus, hit the weight room and impress in spring and fall camp, they could potentially find themselves on the field competing for snaps.