When it comes to the Egg Bowl, they say you can “throw out the records;” it’s as unpredictable of a football game as you can find anywhere. But in between each installment of the Thanksgiving Day rivalry, a quieter, more drawn-out version of the Egg Bowl plays out each year when it comes to recruiting. Every December (formerly February), Ole Miss and Mississippi State look to secure the best of the best inside the Magnolia State. Under Lane Kiffin, the Ole Miss brand has rarely looked better, but the Rebs’ in-state recruiting efforts have not always reflected that shift under Kiffin. For the 2023 class, Ole Miss secured the top two players in the state in Suntarine Perkins and Ayden Williams, as well as the #5 player in Jamarious Brown. This marked the first time under Kiffin that the Rebs signed more than one of the top five players in-state.
For the class of 2024, Ole Miss has pulled out all the stops; call it a combination of adding Pete Golding, the sustained success the Rebs have shown under Kiffin, and a bumper crop of Mississippi athletes. Whatever the reason, Ole Miss has ramped up its Mississippi recruiting efforts this year.
As always though, State has made moves with some of the top players in the state, even with the instability surrounding now-former MSU head coach Zach Arnett, who essentially served as an interim after the untimely passing of Mike Leach.
Let’s take a look at how Ole Miss and State have stacked up against one another within the Magnolia state this year.
Like last year, the Ole Miss class will be headlined by a star defender from within state boundaries. Kamarion Franklin has been essentially the consensus top player in MS for his class since he was in 9th or 10th grade. Barring any last-minute drama, the dominant pass rusher could make an impact as soon as next year for Pete Golding’s defense.
Neither Ole Miss nor State appeared to ever have much of a chance for the nos. 2 and 4 players in the state; Jamonta Waller pledged his commitment to Florida before recently switching to Auburn, while Tupelo’s Daniel Hill appears to be between Alabama and South Carolina. Weirdly, I don’t think either staff considers missing out on Hill to be a big loss.
The last two top-5 players in our home state were an Egg Bowl split. Defensive lineman Kamron Beavers was an early Ole Miss commit, while star wide receiver JJ Harrell flirted with Ole Miss before committing to Tennessee, decommitting, flirting with Ole Miss some more, then eventually committing to the Bulldogs.
Further down the list of top MS players, things start looking pretty good for the Rebs. According to On3, Ole Miss owns commitments from the #6, #7, and #8 players in state, and lead heavily for #9. Star defensive end Jeffery Rush, defensive tackle William Echoles, and versatile wide receiver Noreel White are all in the Rebels’ commit column, while wide receiver Braylon Burnside recently backed off his commitment to Mississippi State, and appears lined up to be the highest-rated Egg Bowl flip candidate of this cycle.
A bit further down the list of top MS players, Ole Miss has commitments from Patrick Broomfield (cornerback, #25 in MS), SanFrisco Magee (wide receiver, #27), Jeremy Scott (wide receiver, #28), and Shamaar Darden (safety, #32).
Meanwhile, State owns commits from Jimothy Lewis (offensive line, #12), Terrence Hibbler (defensive line, #13), Xavier Gayten (running back/athlete, #15), Tyler Carter (EDGE, #22), TJ Lockhart (offensive line, #26), and Fred Clark (linebacker, #29).
Overall, I think it’s clear that you’d take the Rebs’ haul of in-state players over that of MSU, but like the Ole Miss class as a whole, it has some weak spots, notably on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield. And in the portal/NIL era, there’s always the matter of keeping your class on-campus long enough for them to develop, and also seeing which players from each class might initially escape your grasp, only to come back from the transfer portal a year or two later (Jamonta Waller could easily follow in JJ Pegues’ footsteps by leaving Auburn for Ole Miss, for example).
We’ll keep you updated on the latest in Ole Miss recruiting as the early signing period and portal recruiting windows both approach. I expect some down-to-the-wire drama, but also am impressed with Kiffin’s ability to get the bulk of his recruiting class locked down early. Stay tuned!