The dead period ends Jan. 16, and while Lane Kiffin is finalizing his staff, he is also starting to put the finishing touches on a game plan for who will be signing in February to round out his first class as the head coach in Oxford.
Kiffin and the Rebels signed 12 In the early signing period and are seemingly going to have plenty of flexibility moving forward and will focus on “best available,” per sources. Below, you will find the names that we think you need to know moving forward before National Signing Day on Feb. 5.
4-star Avantae Williams
Overall rank: 54
Safety rank: 1
Hometown: Deland, Fla.
The Under Armour All-American has finalized an official visit to Ole Miss for the January 31st weekend and, if he shows, things could get interesting. But, for now, Williams is keeping people guessing and not saying much.
Rob Cassidy and Chad Simmons of Rivals.com were in Orlando for the all-star event and they seem to think things could go a number of ways.
”Florida is thought to lead, recent mentions of Ole Miss, Georgia and Miami make things a bit less clear. A former Oregon commit, Williams does not intend to announce his plans until February’s signing day and has visits set to both Ole Miss and UGA. This story could have a twist or two left before it ends.”
This is uncommitted safety Avantae Williams in coverage. He’s looking at Ole Miss, Miami and Florida. The Adam Sandler film “The Waterboy” was partially filmed in Williams’ hometown of DeLand Fla. pic.twitter.com/y3yNvNOlI4— Rob Cassidy (@Cassidy_Rob) December 30, 2019
4-star Demon Clowney
Overall rank: 78
Weak-side defensive end rank: 5
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
Clowney is one of the most popular names around these parts as of late and for good reason. The former LSU commit is a skilled defensive end with quickness and strength, giving him plenty of flexibility to be either a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive end.
New co-defensive coordinator Chris Partridge Is familiar with recruiting the DMV area and was already doing so with the St. Frances product when he was at Michigan. Now, the cousin of the former Rivals No. 1 overall player and current Seahawks defensive end, will be visiting Oxford in two weeks for the Jan. 17 weekend.
Clowney has done a nice job of keeping folks guessing but with the addition of Partridge, I think Ole Miss is in a good spot here.
4-star McKinnley Jackson
Overall rank: 83
Defensive tackle rank: 8
Hometown: Lucedale, Miss.
Rivals’ Sam Spiegelman was in San Antonio for the U.S. All-American Bowl and caught up with the big fella from Mississippi. As expected, Jackson was diplomatic In his responses about his recruiting, but he did lay out his thoughts on each of his finalists.
”Ole Miss is Ole Miss and it’s love, it’s family. Just because it’s in-state doesn’t mean I’ll go there. I don’t know the (new) staff there, but I know (defensive line coach) Freddie Roach. It’s a big brother, little brother relationship. He’s a funny guy, he knows what he’s doing and he can develop talent.”
Rivals100 DT McKinnley Jackson pic.twitter.com/OBimA9IU4s— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) January 1, 2020
Obviously things were shaken up a bit when Ole Miss fired Matt Luke. But, Freddie Roach is still the defensive line coach on staff and I expect Kiffin and Partridge to continue to pursue the top-rated Magnolia State product and to compete with LSU and Texas A&M for his signature in February.
They will have their shot when he officially visits Jan. 24.
4-star Henry Parrish
Overall rank: 155
Running back rank: 11
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Gators Territory publisher Corey Bender spoke about Parrish’s recruitment a few weeks ago and where it stands after his decommitment from Pittsburgh and he seems to think, as of now, Ole Miss and Oregon have surged ahead of the rest. Rebels’ new running backs coach Kevin Smith was recruiting Parrish while at FAU and that relationship has seamlessly transitioned over with him to Oxford.
Henry Parrish. Holy sh*t what a run. pic.twitter.com/3wIGLRkf3r— Andrew Ivins (@Andrew_Ivins) August 22, 2019
There is still time for things to change, but as of this writing I think Kiffin and Ole Miss are in the lead for Columbus High School’s all-time leading rusher.
Spiegelman seems to share Bender’s sentiments about the Rebels’ chances due to the bond that was built while in Boca Raton.
4-star Donovan Kaufman
Overall rank: 189
Safety rank: 13
Hometown: Metairie, La.
Another new name that has popped up on Ole Miss’ radar over the dead period is Donovan Kaufman. The four-star safety from the Pelican State was offered by Partridge almost immediately after he was hired and he quickly booked an official visit for Jan. 24.
Rummel S Donovan Kaufman is one of the best HS players I've ever seen. He is the reincarnation of The Honey Badger, and that is not something to take lightly. Versatile. Dynamic. Game-changer.— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) November 17, 2019
This is just a tidbit from his mid-season tape pic.twitter.com/IEToAfggXM
He has been committed to the Commodores since last June, but he elected to sign in February which usually alludes to recruits wanting to explore some options to ensure they’re making the right decision. If he makes it to Oxford for his visit, the Rebels will have their shot to sway his decision.
4-star De’Arre McDonald
Overall rank: 211
Cornerback rank: 16
Hometown: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The former Ole Miss commit chose to open things back up after the staff shake-up. And now that he is signing in February, the Rebels could make their case for him to re-up and join their 2020 class.
Your guess is as good as mine here and McDonald has yet to say much nor schedule any official visits. If some other dominoes fall for Partridge and new co-defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, the former Rebel commit could find himself on the outside looking in.
4-star Javier Morton
Overall rank: N/A
Safety rank: 18
Hometown: Stone Mountain, Ga.
The Peach State recruit confirmed with me that he has been in contact with the Rebels and he is listening. The former Alabama commit could be staying close to home and playing for the Yellowjackets but he told me that he thinks the Kiffin hire is “great” and if he were to visit Oxford, things could potentially move in a positive direction.
4-star Jayson Jones
Overall rank: N/A
Defensive tackle rank: 42
Hometown: Calera, Ala.
The Alabama commit told AL.com’s Matt Zenitz that despite his verbal pledge to Nick Saban that he would be exploring other options before February.
“I’m still verbally committed and I’m not decommitted,” Jones said. “But in the past, I feel like I haven’t given everyone a fair chance at recruitment. That’s what I want to do these next two months.”
Jones told Tony Tsoukalas of BamaInsider that he’s planning on taking official visits to Baylor (Jan. 17) and Oregon (Jan. 24) and that Georgia Tech, LSU, and Auburn are also in pursuit.
In my opinion, the No. 42 defensive tackle in the country wants to sign with Alabama, but Saban and Co. may not have room for him in the 2020 class. If that’s the case, Roach and the rest of the Rebels’ staff could jump in the race for the Under Armour All-American with the aforementioned suitors above.
3-star Nick Turner
Overall rank: N/A
Cornerback rank: 48
Hometown: New Orleans, La.
Another Pelican State defensive back to keep an eye on, Turner committed to the Razorbacks a few days ago. But, he could still be officially visiting Oxford. The former Georgia Tech commit will visit Fayetteville (Jan. 17) later this month and then Memphis (Jan. 24).
Turner has quite the offer sheet, sporting offers from Baylor, Penn State, and Tennessee, and he appears to be open to exploring his options before signing day. If the Rebels can get him on campus, things could change before NSD.
3-star Austin Griffin
JUCO overall rank: 33
Tight end rank: N/A
Hometown: Walnut, Calif.
Rebel Grove’s Neal McCready spoke with Griffin and he was quite candid when it comes to his opinion of Ole Miss.
”If I’m being straight up honest with you, I’d probably commit before I visited. That’s one of the top schools in the country and with Lane Kiffin there and the way they use tight ends, that would be a great place to go. If they offered, I’d probably commit on the spot.”
Griffin didn’t pull any punches in his interview with McCready and he could join the 2020 class before Feb. 5. He knows Ole Miss needs a tight end and Harrison Bryant’s Mackey Award-winning season at FAU obviously got his attention.
3-star Ennis Rakestraw
Overall rank: N/A
Cornerback rank: N/A
Hometown: Duncanville, Tex.
Another new name who could potentially join the Ole Miss secondary is Ennis Rakestraw. The All-Name team member and Duncanville product just recently started hearing from the Rebels and new special teams coordinator Blake Gideon, a Lone Star State native himself, has begun the conversation to potentially work towards an offer and a visit.
If the Rebs pull the trigger on an offer, he says he plans on visiting. If the Rebs pull the trigger on an offer, he says he plans on visiting. Alabama and Georgia have offered and, as of now, Rakestraw’s only official visits scheduled are Miami (Jan. 17) and Missouri (Jan. 24).