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Whiskey Wednesday’s Thursday Recruiting Hangover: Welcome To 2023!

Ole Miss hosts multiple key portal targets this weekend

NCAA Football: Texas Bowl-Texas Tech at Mississippi
Heading into 2023 like:
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a good while since my last weekly recruiting update; for that, I’ll partially blame the holidays, but also Lane Kiffin and his staff. While some programs have been busy raiding the transfer portal, Kiffin seems pretty content to take the staff and roster responsible for the Rebels’ increasingly inexcusable four game skid and go pretty deep into the offseason with only minimal changes. So far, portal pickups Tre Harris and Chris Marshall are the only guys that move the needle for Ole Miss in 2023 (though to be fair, they potentially move the needle a ton).

But, in fairness to Lane, he’s typically moved very…deliberately in the offseason, and has typically done pretty well for himself. There is time yet for Kiffin to cook, but not much. This weekend, Ole Miss has four major portal visitors on tap, and will hopefully add more. Let’s take a look:

Rebels host key portal targets this weekend

  • Vanderbilt QB Mike Wright: Wright was Vanderbilt’s primary starter in 2021, and split time about 50/50 with AJ Swann this year, though Swann was generally considered to be Vandy’s QB of the future even before Wright entered the portal. Wright will be a senior with two years of eligibility remaining in 2023. This season, he passed for 974 yards with a 57.4 completion percentage and 11.5 yards per completion, throwing for 12 TDs and 4 INTs. Those numbers are actually not much worse than Swann’s, who passed for 1,274 yards (58.1% completion, 11 yards per completion, 10TD/2INT). BUT, Wright looks even better when you consider that he rushed for 7.3 ypc for the year with 5 scores, while Swann averaged -3.6 per carry. Anyways, Wright potentially provides Ole Miss with a perfect solution as a backup QB, bringing SEC experience and enough skill as a runner to perhaps even draw some looks as a red zone weapon.
  • Purdue QB Brady Allen: News of Allen’s visit popped up not long after Wright’s visit was cemented, and provides Ole Miss with another intriguing option to fill out the QB room. Allen is a vastly different QB though; not much of a runner at all, Allen is a prototypical pocket passer, standing 6’6 with a lot of arm talent. The Indiana native was rated the #116 player in the 2022 class, according to the On3 consensus, and the #7 quarterback. He also has four years of eligibility remaining, having retained his redshirt status this year. It’s unclear if Ole Miss is trying to grab both Allen and Wright, but either one would be a great backup option for Jaxson Dart.
  • Memphis TE Caden Prieskorn: At the top of this article, I mentioned how Lane Kiffin moves agonizingly slowly at times, and recruiting the tight end position this offseason is definitely an example of that. In the blink of an eye, top portal tight ends Jaheim Bell, CJ Dippre, Seydou Traore, and Kyle Morlock were all snapped up. But maybe Kiffin had a plan all along in Caden Prieskorn… Ideally sized at 6’6, 255 lbs, Prieskorn was a quarterback prospect before injuries derailed his recruitment out of high school. He decided to walk on at Memphis as a tight end, and after two years with seven combined receptions, exploded on the scene as a junior with 48 catches for 602 yards and 7 scores. We don’t yet know how many other suitors Prieskorn will have, but the good news is that he’ll be on the Ole Miss campus this weekend, and the first transfer portal window closes in less than two weeks, on January 18. Only so much time for other teams to get involved.
  • Arkansas S Jalen Catalon: Catalon’s name has been tossed around as an option for Ole Miss for weeks now, but no solid information has surfaced regarding mutual interest between the Arkansas safety and Ole Miss until now. Catalon had 99 tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2020, following that incredible effort with two injury-shortened seasons that left Arkansas wondering what could have been. The 5’10, 200 lb safety was named a preseason All-American second-teamer by the AP, and was also named to the Jim Thorpe award watch list. There is some concern over whether Catalon can bounce back after two major shoulder injuries, but his upside is clearly off the charts.

Ole Miss finds its QB for 2024

In other recruiting news, Ole Miss earned a commitment from perhaps its QB of the future last week in class of 2024 passer Demond Williams, jr. Williams comes from Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona. A bit undersized at 6’0 and 180 lbs, Williams nevertheless has a big arm, great wheels, and a top-tier offer list, including Oregon, UCLA, Cal, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Arkansas, Michigan State, and others. According to On3’s consensus rankings, Williams is the #251 player in the 2024 class, and the #19 QB. However, other services rate him higher; 247Sports ranks him #182 and the #14 QB, Rivals ranks him #173 and the #5 QB, and ESPN rates Williams #136 and the #7 QB. His Hudl highlights show nice footwork, the ability to push the ball aggressively downfield, great escapability in the pocket, and the ability to keep his eyes downfield when plays break down. Expect Ole Miss to also keep recruiting Little Rock Christian Academy QB Walker White.

Rebel DB Kyndrich Breedlove withdraws from portal

An underrated element of Lane Kiffin’s success with recruiting the transfer portal has been his ability to keep his best players *out* of it. While Kyndrich Breedlove may not have made much of a stir when he entered his name into the portal on December 7, the sophomore cornerback from Nashville was making waves in spring and fall camps, battling Markevious Brown for the #4 cornerback spot behind Deantre Prince, Davison Igbinosun, and Miles Battle. His season was marked by nagging injuries that kept him out of the main defensive back rotation, but clearly Ole Miss made efforts to convince Breedlove to stay for a reason.