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Ole Miss has the No. 22 recruiting class in the country after a strong finish

Matt Luke had a big National Signing Day, nabbing a five- and four-star to close the day.

Josh McCoy-Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss might have had a bland early signing period, but it finished the 2019 recruiting cycle with a big National Signing Day. Matt Luke and his staff collected signatures from the country’s No. 3 running back prospect and the best inside linebacker in junior college on Wednesday, climbing to No. 22 in the national recruiting per the 247 Sports Composite.

This class is going to be a huge depth piece for the coming years. The Rebels are ninth but are no longer last in the West Division, thanks in large part to the signatures from five-star Jerrion Ealy and four-stars Jonathan Mingo and Lakia Henry, all of which were tightly contested battles with national powers that came down to signing day. And even though the likes of Byron Young, Jaren Handy, Charles Moore and Jamond Gordon aren’t coming to Oxford, there are some defensive playmakers in this class.

In case you’re curious, the Rebels are currently ahead of Power 5 programs like Mississippi State, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Arizona State and Oklahoma State. Programs like Tennessee, Southern Cal, Washington and Stanford are mere points ahead.

Perhaps the most important thing about the 2019 class is that it gets Ole Miss back to 85 scholarships after years of NCAA sanctions.,

As Luke alluded to in his press conference:

“Really excited about this class. Important for us to get back to 85 scholarships and this is a big, deep class. Most was done in December but we had a great day today. Our staff with Siskey and our coaches are relationships years in the making with prospects. Had needs at defensive line and linebacker and keeping Mississippi kids at home and we accomplished that. This is the foundation class to get back on track to where we’re going.”

Shoring up the front seven was also an important accomplishment. The Rebels signed a legit pass rusher in December, then another today in Brandon Mack, and then added a playmaking linebacker in Henry and a hulking interior disruptor in three-star LeDarrius Cox.

“Going into this second signing period it was important to get a pass rusher, a defensive tackle and a linebacker and we hit on all those with Mack, Cox and obviously the No. 1 JUCO LB with Henry,” Luke said. “We’ve struggled at linebacker and getting immediate help is a big deal.”

The pass rusher, four-star strong-side defensive end Sam Williams, and Henry will be the cornerstones for a defense tasked with rejuvenating the Landshark brand. On offense, the four-star quarterback duo of Grant Tisdale and John Rhys Plumlee will have plenty around them. If Ealy doesn’t end up going to the MLB, he’ll be an electrifying running back who can score from anywhere on the field. Mingo, Dannis Jackson and JUCO receiver Dontario Drummond add three legit pieces to the nWo, and the offensive line class is stacked with tons and tons of BEEF.

Fourteen of the 31 signees are on defense and there are a few that aren’t highly-touted that could be making an impact sooner rather than later. Three-star defensive tackles LeDarrius Cox and Patrick Lucas are going to be counted on in the middle for Mike MacIntyre’s 3-4 defense and three-star weak-side defensive end Brandon Mack is a jumbo-sized Marquis Haynes. Fair warning, I think three-star cornerback Jalen Jordan is going to be a name to remember.

The frustration from the in-state whiffs back in December is certainly warranted, especially since Luke built this campaign around the mantra of #MississippiMade. But just a year removed from postseason suspension, this class should be something to build on for 2020.