By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
Depending on how his official visit finishes up today, Ole Miss could land another top-ranked junior college player in linebacker Davon Durant.
Durant (6-foot-2, 240 pounds) arrived in Oxford Friday for his official visit. The one-time South Carolina commitment made 46 tackles in five games playing for Butler Community College this past season. He also garnered three sacks, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.
Durant is considered a “soft verbal commit” to Arizona State, meaning he is committed, but taking visits. He chose the Sun Devils back during the season in October, but decided to exhaust all his options, which now have included trips to Oregon and Ole Miss.
Texas A&M was another school that Durant wanted to visit, but that trip didn’t materialize, according to article posted by Derek Young of Scout.com on Dec. 2. The trip to Oregon went well, according to Durant, but his parents needed to sign off on the Ducks.
“I’m still deciding. I’m waiting to hear back from my parents and see what they think about stuff,” Durant said in an interview with Andrew Nemec of Oregonlive Recruiting. “Once the (Oregon) coaches get out to meet my parents, I’ll know for sure. Right now, I’d have to say I’m leaning toward Arizona State. They’ve already met my parents.”
Durant is a native of Greenwood, S.C., and he is rated as the nation’s top JUCO linebacker by ESPN.
Ole Miss currently has commitments from EMCC QB Chad Kelly and Gulf Coast CB Tony Bridges, who is now being re-pursued by Auburn with the hiring of Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator. Another player Ole Miss is pursing that is on that top 10 list is EMCC DT DJ Jones. Jones was profiled in Saturday’s recruit profile.
Monday afternoon update:
I talked with Durant’s position coach at Butler, Dale Vogel, who has been recruiting Durant since he was in high school. Vogel said Durant arrived back in Butler Sunday night following his trip to Oxford and was busy finishing up his school work before heading back home for the holidays.
Vogel said Durant lives in the weight room. And that he makes plays that you can’t coach.
“The stuff he does, when you watch his highlights, he is manhandling Alvin Kamara and treating people like rag dolls,” Vogel said. “He has strength that not a lot of other people are blessed with. He’s special athletically and physically. He was coached and developed really well in high school and then up here at Butler. He’s an amazing player and really good kid. Wherever he decides to go, I wish him well.”
Vogel is also the recruiting coordinator at Butler and up on where kids are headed outside of just trying to land players for the Grizzlies. Vogel recruited DJ Jones, an Ole Miss target at DT for 2015, adding that he and Durant built a relationship back in high school and in the Shrine All-Star game.
Durant and Vogel have talked about the next step, choosing a school, and even though Tom Allen is his direct recruiter and departing for South Florida, he felt like Ole Miss still had a good chance. The Rebels and Durant first started a relationship back in March and it has continued to build gradually over the last nine months.
“I’m not trying to point him one way or the other. I told him he has to do what is best for him. You got to go with the coaching staff you best get along with, but more importantly, you’re a JUCO and you got to go to a place where you can be the guy from day one and make an immediate impact,” Vogel said. “(Oregon coach) Mark Helfrich was here last week. That says a lot to me when his quarterback was in Orlando and he had to fly down for the college football awards and then take a train in for the Heisman Trophy presentation. In that same week, he stopped in El Dorado, Kansas to see Davon Durant. I don’t know which way he’s going to go, but I want him to make the right choice and make sure he graduates from college before he goes on to the NFL.’
As for what Durant told Vogel he specifically likes about Ole Miss, he said Durant likes the defense and the returning players.
“I don’t know who has taken over the direct recruiting for Tom Allen, but I think Ole Miss just as good of a chance as anybody else and I know he likes Ole Miss,” Vogel said. “I know he likes the fact that he can walk into a defense that has studs in the secondary and obviously some very good guys in front of him on the d-line.”
When it comes to ability, Vogel didn’t think there was any doubt that Durant could be in the NFL, maybe as early as 2016.
“Davon has Sunday written all over him. I think he’s going to come in and be an immediate guy, make somebody very happy,” Vogel said. “The think about him is he always in the weight room, always goes to class. He’s a good kid. He has a goal set, a path to the NFL. That’s what he wants to do and that’s what he’s motivated to do. He came here, did what he had to from day one and he’s going to be out in three semesters and on to whichever school he wants to be at.”