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Ole Miss Eyes Trio Of High School Defensive Linemen On Eve Of Late Signing Day

Pete Golding looks to stock up on front-seven players to rebuild the Rebel defense

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After Ole Miss signed 12 high school players in the December 2022 signing period, it was assumed by most that the Rebels might be done with prep recruiting for the 2023 class, turning their attention instead on the transfer portal. And while Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss did find 14 more players in the portal, they whiffed mightily on several defensive line and linebacker prospects that the coaching staff seemingly felt good about landing.

The Rebels lost defensive tackle KD Hill, defensive end Tavius Robinson, and linebacker Troy Brown to graduation. They also lost linemen Isaiah Iton, Brandon Mack, and Demon Clowney, along with linebackers Austin Keys and Jaron Willis, to the portal. That’s eight scholarship players departing. Ole Miss signed defensive end Jamarious Brown, linebacker Suntarine Perkins, and linebacker Skielar Mann from the high school ranks, and added NC State defensive tackle Joshua Harris, Louisville linebacker Monty Montgomery, and UCF linebacker Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste from the portal.

For those counting at home, that’s a net loss of two scholarship players among defensive linemen and linebackers, which isn’t ideal considering incoming Rebel defensive coordinator Pete Golding is likely to implement a defensive scheme that uses more players at these positions than the 3-2-6 alignment Ole Miss has favored the last three years.

Fortunately, Golding and co. were able to bring in three high school defensive line prospects last weekend that plan to sign in the February 2023 signing period tomorrow. Let’s take a look:

Chamberlain Campbell: an edge rusher from St. Petersburg, Florida, Campbell is listed at 6’7, 215 lbs, and slots in as the #661 player in the country, according to On3’s consensus rankings. In his highlight tape, Campbell certainly looks as lanky as his measurements suggest, but shows good speed in pursuit, and uses his length to bat down passes and to wrap up ball carriers. Campbell claims offers from Miami, Florida State, Auburn, Michigan State, Louisville, Mizzou, USF, and others. His On3 Recruiting Prediction Thingy says he has a 98.1% chance to sign with Ole Miss following his visit last weekend.

DeeJay Holmes: another Florida edge rusher, Holmes has a very different body type, built more like a Mike linebacker at 6’2, 235 lbs. And while the tall and lanky Campbell could be considered more of a project as he grows into his frame, Holmes is pretty much ready to go; he only led the entire country in sacks his senior season, notching 32.5 (again: THIRTY TWO POINT FIVE SACKS) for Pahokee High School. Despite the mid-boggling production, Holmes ranks as the #999 player in the country; I couldn’t really tell you why. His highlight tape doesn’t look like that of a five-star, but it does look like that of a guy who sacks the quarterback all the time, even though opposing offenses know exactly where he’s coming from. His On3 Recruiting Crystal Algorithm Machine (I’m gonna keep this bit going, you can’t stop me) also reads heavily in favor of Ole Miss.

Jonathan Davis: probably the last recruit to pop up on the Rebels’ radar this offseason, Davis is the 2023 version of the classic small-town Mississippi under-the-radar story. Currently listed at 6’5, 300 lbs, Davis reportedly had a huge late growth spurt, and also battled injuries prior to his senior year. After his senior highlights started circulating, the Lawrence County defensive tackle went from having no presence at all on any of the major recruiting services, to being ranked the #443 player in the country, the #49 defensive lineman, and the #8 player in Mississippi according to the On3 consensus. The aforementioned highlight tape unsurprisingly shows a very big kid who is way too quick for his size and is very hard to block. Davis visited Ole Miss last weekend before taking a final visit to Mississippi State. And while On3’s Wild Wacky Crootin’ Thingamajig says there is a 94.9% chance he signs with the Bulldogs, David Johnson of 247Sports disagrees, waving his Recruiting Magic Wand towards Davis signing with Ole Miss.

Those are the only three signings to watch for on National Signing Day tomorrow, to the best of my knowledge. Ole Miss has a commitment in hand from JUCO offensive tackle Mana Taimani, and the only other late signee Ole Miss has hosted recently is Dundalk, Maryland offensive tackle Chimdy Onoh, who appears to be bound for Penn State.

After all the dust clears, we’ll start picking through the Ole Miss roster to evaluate where the Rebels stand heading into Spring practices.