Hello, it is September, the month where them boys start playing football!
So last week, we recapped a huge commitment announcement from Ayden Williams, then zoomed out and took a look at the Rebels’ recruiting class so far, and where they may look next on the offensive side of the ball. Now, let’s have a look at the defense!
So far, Ole Miss has collected two great commits along the defensive line in Neeo Avery and Jamarious Brown, both 4-star prospects that fill two different needs. Avery is a rangy, hybrid edge rusher, while Brown is built more like a typical 3-4 defensive end at 6’3 and 270lbs.
Senior Tavius Robinson is out of eligibility after 2022; KD Hill is also a senior, but with an extra year of COVID eligibility; juniors Cedric Johnson and JJ Pegues are both big risks to declare for the draft, and it’s not totally out of the question for fellow juniors Isaiah Iton and/or Jamond Gordon to declare. Getting back all five of those potential returners is a pipe dream, IMO, so the Rebs had better be prepared to add 3-5 defensive linemen (which is a pretty good idea every year regardless).
Unfortunately, it’s not totally clear who’s most likely to fill those spots. Within state lines, Vicksburg DL Caleb Bryant appears to be on Ole Miss’ radar to some extent, and vice versa, but it neither seems like Byrant is begging for an offer, nor is the OM staff beating his door down. There is also Holmes County edge rusher Joseph Head, who is committed to Mississippi State, and seems like one of those unheralded guys who ends up gaining 60 pounds of muscle in Starkville, then playing in the NFL for twelve years.
There are several flip targets of various likelihoods, including LSU commit and top-100 player Dashawn Womack, from Ole Miss-friendly St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, where Demon Clowney played and former Rebel defensive end Wayne Dorsey currently coaches. For what it is worth (not a ton, frankly), Ole Miss is the On3 “RPM” prediction for both Tennessee commit Nathan Robinson and uncommitted New Orleans product Kyran Bourda (cool name alert!). We’ll let you know which linemen actually hit campus once official visits get crankin’.
One odd roster note that may have slipped through the cracks: 2021 signee Taleeq Robbins, a highly sought-after DT from Philadelphia (PA)...is not so much on the Ole Miss roster anymore. He appears to be playing for Northeast MS CC this fall. Could he make his way back to Oxford?
Last November, Ole Miss snagged an absolutely crucial commit from Suntarine Perkins, a near 5-star defender who projects at linebacker. But, wouldn’t you know it, Ole Miss is still kinda low on linebackers, and could use a couple more. Central Michigan transfer Troy Brown has just one year of eligibility, and senior Ashanti Cistrunk would have to use his extra COVID year. Otherwise, the Rebs should return juniors Khari Coleman and Reginald Hughes, sophomore Austin Keys, and freshmen Jaron Willis, Tyler Banks, and Jaylon “Trip” White.
Peach County (GA) linebacker prospect Skielar Mann will take an official visit this weekend when the Rebs take on Troy; barring any latecomers, Mann will be the only visitor. He is not currently ranked by On3, but claims offers from Florida State and Georgia Tech, in addition to Ole Miss. Aside from Mann… I got nothing. Oxford (MS) High School linebacker Alex Sanford is committed to Arkansas, and I don’t think Ole Miss ever really offered. While guys can always emerge late in the process (see: Jaron Willis last year), linebacker seems like a position where Ole Miss could attack the portal.
Two defensive backs are currently committed to Ole Miss – Crisp County (GA) prospect Ahmad Brown, listed as a 4-star “ATH,” and Daniel Demery, a 3-star safety from the Dallas area. The Rebs lose senior starting corners Deantre Prince and Miles Battle (barring a very unexpected decision to claim their COVID bonus years), and senior safeties Otis Reese, AJ Finley, and Vandy transfer Dashaun Jerkins. Ole Miss should return, by my count, 15 scholarship defensive backs, but with the 3-2-6 defense, Chris Partridge and co. are probably still looking for a few more guys.
Itawamba Agricultural safety Isaac Smith at one time seemed like as good of a bet as there was to sign with Ole Miss, but… something happened to sour the relationship a bit. If I understand correctly, coaches are trying hard to get back in the game with Smith, who is ranked the #186 player in the country according to On3’s consensus, and the #4 player in Mississippi. He also claims offers from Texas A&M, Georgia, Miss. State, and Vanderbilt, among others.
Another intriguing DB prospect is Braxton Myers of Coppell, Texas. Myers is committed to Southern Cal, but attended the big “Juice Fest” weekend in Oxford a few weekends ago, after which there were suggestions that Myers was on the verge of switching his commitment to the Rebs. Things seemed to cool off a bit Myers (On3’s #199 ranked player) returned to Texas, but he still may be the most likely defensive back to jump in the boat next.
Another big pickup would be Marvin Burks of St. Louis, MO., who also could commit to Ole Miss sooner rather than later. The 4-star safety, On3’s #327 player, carries a 92.7% likelihood of committing to the Rebs, according to the recruiting site’s RPM metric (I’d say it’s more like 91.8%, tbh).