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Whiskey Wednesday’s recruiting hangover heats up as high school football kicks off

Wake up and grind.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Mississippi at Baylor Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Mid-August isn’t the busiest time of year for college football recruiting, but as any good coach would tell you, recruiting is a year-round process. We’re still trying to get a feel for which high school targets Lane Kiffin and co. are really honing in on, and we’ll keep you in the loop as we learn more.

The start of football season will give us some indicators, as prospects line up official visits, and as college coaches are spotted on the sidelines of high school games scouting their top prospects.

And while it may be a little quiet overall, the biggest news in Ole Miss recruiting this week is… still pretty big news. Ridgeland High School wide receiver prospect Ayden Williams has revealed plans for a commitment announcement this Sunday, August 21. Williams said on Twitter that the announcement will be covered “live on 247 sports at Ridgeland high school gym at 2pm central time.”

At 6’3, 190lbs, Williams is almost undoubtedly the top wideout prospect on Ole Miss’ board at this point in the season. He is the No. 118 overall player in the country according to On3’s consensus rankings, the No. 18 wide receiver, and the No. 2 player from Mississippi.

His recruiting ranking has trended upward over the last few months as he’s been more thoroughly scouted, and his stock may well continue to rise. His Hudl highlights show him physically dominating defenses in Mississippi’s 5A classification; he outruns secondaries, easily shrugs off arm tackles, and generally shows a lot of skill after the catch.

Ayden Williams seems widely expected to commit to Ole Miss on Sunday. On3’s Recruiting Prediction Machine projects the Rebels as the 93.8% favorite to land his commitment, and the only two “Crystal Ball” picks for Williams on 247 Sports’ recruiting site both have the talented receiver picking Ole Miss. The Cup’s “sources” have also heard overwhelmingly positive (but not definitive) talk about Williams committing to Ole Miss. Tennessee, LSU, and Georgia are also in the picture, in case you were wondering if Williams is indeed a hot commodity.

If Kiffin does land Williams’ commitment, the Rebs will have the inside track to sign both of the top two players in the Mississippi high school ranks, as LB/S Suntarine Perkins has already cast his lot with Ole Miss. He would also be Kiffin’s first wide receiver commitment for the 2023 class.

Recruiting the receiver position has been an odd point of struggle under Lane Kiffin. Ole Miss signed the No. 37 and No. 96 wide receivers in the 2022 class, in Mississippi natives Jeremiah Dillon and Larry Simmons. In 2021, the No. 34, No. 67, and No. 83 receivers chose the Rebs (Bralon Brown, JJ Henry, and Brandon Buckhaulter). And in 2020, the only WR signee was Marc Britt, who no longer appears on the Ole Miss roster.

While all of these guys individually may be SEC players, and some will surely outperform their high school ranking, the WR room appears to lack star power, an unexpected situation given Kiffin’s reputation as an offensive savant. Ayden Williams just might possess that level of talent, and landing his commitment would be an important step towards addressing a major need.