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Whiskey Wednesday’s Thursday Recruiting Hangover: Ole Miss picks itself up off the Mat.

Not the best luck the past couple of weeks, but Lane Kiffin and co. are rallying.

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2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

In each of the past two “portal seasons,” there have been times when Lane Kiffin and his staff go red hot on the recruiting trail, and times where it seems like the whole program is asleep at the wheel. This offseason got off to an absolute red-hot start, with Ole Miss landing the likes of Chris Paul, Princely Umanmielen, Juice Wells, Walter Nolan, Tyler Baron, Key Lawrence, and Decamarion Richardson. It was (and may still be) the best portal class in the country, rankings be damned. The number of blue chip transfers is absolutely remarkable.

In the last couple of weeks though, things have gotten a bit more difficult, and Ole Miss has lost a few key members of its prized portal class. Tennessee safety Tamarion McDonald was the first casualty, reversing course and enrolling at Louisville after previously committing to Ole Miss. Some Ole Miss message board posters were quick to point out that fellow UT transfer and Ole Miss commit Tyler Baron was actually McDonald’s brother; while McDonald was pretty replaceable as a safety, Baron is one of the top EDGE/defensive ends in the portal. “Nothing to worry about,” the Rebel crootin’ experts insisted, stupidly. Baron, of course, would flip to Louisville just a few days later.

In other shit news, Mississippi State transfer cornerback Decamarion Richardson, who would’ve been a day-one starter in the Rebel secondary, decided to declare for the NFL draft. And yesterday, it emerged that the Rebs’ other cornerback commit, Illinois starter Tahveon Nicholson, will likely be hopping out of the Rebels’ transfer portal class.

Over the same time span, Alabama linebacker Kendrick Blackshire, on the heels of a visit to Oxford, went to Austin and committed to Texas. The inside scuttlebutt was that Blackshire had committed to Pete Golding, with the Ole Miss DC posting one of his little shark emojis on Twitter/X following the linebacker’s visit. And while Pete is clearly the expert here, you gotta scratch your head when the staff thinks a recruit has “committed,” but plans to immediately go on another visit. I texted someone that I’d bet my house Blackshire would commit to UT; now I wish I had.

At this point, you’re probably thinking that I’m writing this article in the foulest of moods, but I’m actually feeling pretty good about how things are shaping up. Ole Miss took several blows in a short period, but Kiffin and co. have always been great at backup plans; sometimes, their plan B turns out better than their plan A.

So with our two cornerback commits and one safety commit now out of the boat, the staff called on South Alabama corner/safety Yam Banks, who visited last weekend and committed shortly thereafter. While McDonald played for a bigger program, obviously, Banks was a star in the South Alabama secondary, while McDonald was a rotational player for UT. We’ll call that a wash for now.

Then, Michigan cornerback Amorion Walker snuck into Oxford on a visit, also committing just a couple of days later. Walker was recruited as a wide receiver, but the 6’3 super athlete was converted to defense, and was at one point expected to play a major role in the Wolverines’ rotation. Injuries and inexperience sank Walker’s second year at Michigan, but in the pre-season, Bruce Feldman included Walker in his annual list of “freak” athletes in college football. His combination of height and length, quickness, straight line speed, and vertical leap is just about unmatched in college football. Walker’s lack of experience makes it tough to count on him as a starter, but he is a hell of a lottery pick, should he manage to get his head around the cornerback position.

So there’s one corner settled. Now, Kiffin and Golding are zeroing in on Alabama’s Trey Amos, who recently entered the portal amid the ongoing implosion of the Tide’s roster. Amos was third on the Alabama roster in passes defended this year, with five, and was reportedly in line to start for the Tide in 2024. Things appear to be setting up well for the Rebs to land Amos, because given how late it is, 1. We are getting a little desperate, and 2. So is he. Ole Miss, with some NIL funds recently freed up by the recent spate of defections, gives Amos a place where he’s a shoo-in starter, can command a very respectable NIL sum, and also compete for a playoff spot. Amos is set to visit this weekend; Ole Miss On3 recruiting analyst Zach Berry and 247 Ole Miss reporter David Johnson have both cast their magic RPM-ball thingies in favor of the Rebs landing Amos. Given that Berry and Johnson have different networks of sources, and often don’t move in lockstep on these predictions, I like our odds. It’s worth nothing that while there have been about fifteen Alabama portal entries with supposed interest in Ole Miss since Pete Golding left for Oxford, Ole Miss has landed exactly zero of them. Does Amos break the streak?

Ole Miss is also trying to get into the game with Washington starting offensive guard Parker Brailsford, a redshirt freshman who started mostly at center, but also at right guard for the Huskies, earning second-team All-Pac12 honors, also earning a nod on several publications’ freshman all-American teams. Brailsford has already set up a visit to Tuscaloosa, where of course his old head coach now resides. So it’ll be an uphill battle here, but Alabama has a LOT more work left to do in the portal than does Ole Miss, so maybe the Rebs get lucky here?

I’m sure that the Rebs will continue to make last-minute moves as the deadline to add new players for the Spring semester quickly approaches. We’ll check back in a couple of days with the latest.