Anybody that knows about college football knows that recruiting never stops. National Signing Day may still be over nine months away, but the spring is vital for gaining traction with recruits. And not just for the 2015 crop, but players in the 2016 and 2017 classes too.
Ole Miss is expected to sign 20 prospects for the upcoming class. Numbers include one quarterback, one, or two, running backs, a tight end and two wide receivers. A big portion of the class will be offensive lineman, where four are the target. Four defensive linemen have been targeted as a signing amount on that side of the ball.
Maurice Harris, the Rebels’ tight end coach, is in charge of recruiting offensive players to Ole Miss, as well as position players from North Mississippi, Tennessee and parts of Georgia.
“Our biggest needs are going to probably be offensive and defensive line, creating more depth at both of those spots. I think we’re going to sign maybe four offensive linemen and four defensive linemen as well,” Harris said. “It’s not going to be as big of a signing class because of numbers. We’re not losing as many seniors. With that being said, we have to be very selective of who we’re going after. Our goal is to sign about 20. It could be less, but definitely not more, unless something crazy happens.”
Harris, or any Ole Miss coach, can’t talk about an unsigned prospect on the record. They can comment on current players and the development of former Aberdeen tight end Channing Ward depends on how many tight ends are ultimately added to the roster. Ole Miss has a verbal pledge from North Panola’s Willie Hibbler (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) currently. Ward becoming an even more productive tight end this summer and during the season will keep that commit at one.
“It all depends on how Channing does. I thought he had a really great spring for us. He brought an element that we didn’t have last season, just a physical, on-the-ball tight end that can widen the line of scrimmage. It’s all depending on what Channing does and hopefully he continues to progress. There may not be another need to sign another tight end,” Harris said. “Channing has been a pleasant surprise. I knew he had the skill set, he just has to learn what we’re doing offensively and be able to translate that to on the field.”
Ole Miss has a verbal pledge from one running back currently, Dallas-based product Rawleigh Williams (5-10, 205). A top target is Georgia speedster Eric Swinney (5-10, 185) who is rated as the No. 6 overall prospect for the 2015 class in the state by Rivals.com.
On the defensive side of the ball, the goal is to garner two linebackers. Olive Branch’s Fred Walls (6-1, 210) is already on board in that department. Two corners are wanted for the class. Harris said the corner signings are tied in with guys who could be safeties, which means taller prospects rather than shorter.
For more on Harris’ interview, check back in the coming days and visit the Oxford Citizen.
By John Davis
Special to the Journal