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Ole Miss football recruiting: Who are the names to know at The Opening Finals?

The fun starts this weekend.


It’s that time of year again. No, not the dead period. Nike’s The Opening Finals are back, hosting 80 of the nation’s top players in the 2020 class. This year, the showcase will be held in the Lone Star State at the Cowboy’s training facility in Frisco.

The Opening Finals is a four day recruiting extravaganza of individual workouts, 1-on-1 drills, 7-on-7 tournament, and the Elite 11 quarterback competition. The Elite 11 competition is already underway but the rest of the festivities start on Sunday.

Who will be in Texas that you need to keep an eye on? No worries, I gotcha.

EDITOR’S NOTE: click on each prospects’ name to see their 247Sports profile

4-star QB Robby Ashford (Ole Miss commit)

The Hoover, Ala. prospect committed to the Rebs on Monday and is arguably the biggest piece to the 2020 class next to Horn Lake four-star Josaih Hayes. He will be competing as a finalist in the Elite 11 contest and subsequently in the 7-on-7 competition once the rest of the skill players arrive in Frisco.

I don’t think you’ll have to worry about Ashford rethinking his commitment or flipping. After his unofficial visit last weekend, he made the decision rather quickly to commit on the spot. I expect him to be in some ears this weekend trying to add more blue-chip stars to this class.

4-star CB De’Arre McDonald

The cornerback from Murfreesboro, Tenn. will be committing on July 2nd at the opening and Ole Miss is the prohibitive favorite. The 6’0, 187-pounder from Oakland High School would be yet another elite defensive back for Mike MacIntyre’s defense, joining fellow four-star Eric Reed, Jr.

Tennessee and Virginia Tech have both been involved but linebackers coach Tyrone Nix has been recruiting McDonald going on two years now and the relationship appears to have sealed the deal with the nation’s No. 28 cornerback.

4-star WDE Reggie Grimes

The Alabama legacy is the highest-ranked prospect to keep an eye on this weekend. The No. 31 overall player in the country from Brentwood, Tenn. visited Oxford with McDonald earlier this month and is set to come back in late July. And despite his father being a former Crimson Tide player, right now it appears that the Rebels and Vols are fighting for Grimes’ services.

July’s upcoming visit will be the outstanding athlete’s third this year and the more he shows up, the better the chances are. One might think that McDonald and Ashford will be talking with him a lot at this weekend’s festivities.

4-star CB Avantae Williams (Oregon commit)

Charles Clark has been working the state of Florida hard in 2020 and Williams is his top target. He committed to the Ducks back in December but no one has stopped recruiting the No. 47 overall player. The No. 1 safety in the nation will be hearing from Florida, Miami, and the Rebels until he signs on the dotted line.

If Clark can get Avantae to Oxford, watch out.

4-star DT McKinnley Jackson

Next to Ashford, Mr. Jackson might be the most important target in the 2020 cycle for Matt Luke. The Lucedale, Miss. native not only the No. 1 player in Mississippi but he’s the No. 10 defensive tackle in the country as well. And as it stands now, the Rebels lead for his services.

The 6’2, 330-pounder is a monster in the middle and would be a tremendous asset for Ole Miss’ new 3-4 defense. This is going to be a big weekend for him to prove that he is worthy of five-star status against the nation’s best.

4-star ATH Dillon Johnson (Mississippi State commit)

The Bulldog pledge committed a week ago but Ole Miss will continue to recruit the Greenville, Miss. product. Johnson is another in-state product who is looking to prove something this weekend against the best the country has to offer. Johnson’s older brother transferred from Navy to Ole Miss this summer and Luke and his staff will continue to chip away at the No. 19 athlete in the country to try and flip him.

3-star OLB Jakivuan Brown (Mississippi State commit)

Another State commit to watch this weekend is the No. 51 outside linebacker out of Horn Lake, Miss. Brown committed to the Bulldogs abruptly earlier this month while in Starkville on an unofficial visit when most believed that Ole Miss was leading for his services after he made three quick trips to Oxford this summer.

Auburn and LSU are also trying to stay in the game for Brown, but if I had to bet I would say Ole Miss will ultimately be able to induce a flip.