Here’s video of the opening comments from Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze:
Some highlights from the Q-and-A session:
On LeBron James tweeting about Ole Miss
“I don’t think you could go out and purchase the exposure we got today. As I sat there this morning early, from 6:30 to 10, it seemed like Ole Miss was popping up on the screen quite a lot. Then to take to the Twitter world and see people like LeBron James recognize that fact was pretty nice. It got re-tweeted a few times. Hopefully Ross (Bjork) is already under way to get him to give us an ‘Are you ready’ next year for one of the games.”
On commits recruiting other players
“Obviously McGriff is the coach on record, but Quincy Adeboyejo out of Texas, Laquon (Treadwell) did a great job of recruiting him also.”
On landing Robert Nkemdiche
“Robert and Denzel’s mom told me from the very get-go that we had a chance to get them together if we could create some excitement and win some football games, show improvement. That’s the way it started with me in the recruitment of Robert. We were fortunate that we were able to create a lot of momentum and buzz at the end of the year. We were very competitive in some big games with Texas A&M, Alabama and LSU and so on. We want to be more than just competitive, but there was no question in their mind there was improvement, and Denzel had such a phenomenal year. Then you win the Egg Bowl, the Compass Bowl, that momentum helped us go into recruiting.
“Then to land Laquon early, a national guy that gave us some validation maybe, for him to help us recruit others. I don’t think there’s any question that was a big part of this process.”
Responds to accusations of improper recruiting
“I have to be very candid. I was really shocked. I know people have their own opinions and feel the freedom now in the social media to voice that very freely. I was shocked at how much it was, I really was. I think if people knew the whole story of the natural tie-ins with the mom of the No. 1 recruit wanting their sons together, and the tie between Anthony Standifer and Laquon Treadwell, then coach McGriff and his high school coach, those natural ins, and Tony Conner’s right down the road. The people we get criticized for are Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell, Tony Conner, Laremy Tunsil, maybe Austin Golson … Those seem to be the ones that get pointed out, and three of those kids we have great tie-ins with that helped us get way ahead of the competition.
“I’m a head-on guy. I don’t like to see people randomly feel the freedom to take shots. We had a plan. We executed our plan. Obviously we had some luck to have some ins. I readily admit that, but we did it with integrity within our coaching staff. My whole point in saying that is that if there’s something that’s out there that has some factual basis, we would like to know.
“I said that, and after about 4,000 re-tweets and national media picking up on it, I decided to take it down, because of some of the cruel shots I was taking, and my daughter follows me, the coaching staff’s kids follow me. Then I got criticized for that too. I don’t know that you can win when you engage in the social media, but I still stand by, if there’s something going on that is wrong, that’s not the way Ross wants the program run, the chancellor wants it run or I want it run. That’s all I was meaning by that statement.
“I know the way our staff’s doing it. If everyone understood, there’s more to getting these guys than just us walking out there. We had some natural ins that proved to be very advantageous.”
Do you have to follow this up with another top 10 class next year and beyond to rise in the SEC West?
“I don’t know if it has to be top 10, but certainly, you’ve got to be adequate evaluators of talent. I think that last year, I don’t know even if were ranked last year, but we found some pretty good hidden gems in that class, and I think you’ll see the same in this.
“Everybody wants to focus on those top guys, but I think one of the strengths of our class are those four star and high three stars that we got … the Jordan Wilkins, the Mark Dodsons, the guys like Derrick Jones, Davion Johnson, Daronte Bouldin, and hey, how about Kailo Moore? Those guys are not getting talked about a whole lot, and we think they’re superstars.
“I don’t know that next year’s class has to be as top heavy as this one appears to be, but it certainly has to be at middle area like the ones I’m mentioning there … the Ryan Buchanans, the Devante Kincades. We need to land another solid class of those high-three and four-star guys for sure. The only way you’re ever going to compete at the level we want to, I think, is to put two or three of those classes together. That’s what the other schools are doing.
“But no question, this class, and the exposure we have received today, is already helping us in 2014. It gives us some momentum, it gives us some validity, and now we can use it to start building relationships with a few national guys. We can’t go after an enormous amount, but we can go after some. They definitely have heard about Ole Miss and probably are intrigued about what’s going on there. Hopefully they will come and get to know us. When they get to know our staff it kind of becomes contagious. People want to play for these coaches.”