National Signing Day

3:48 p.m.

Here’s the official Ole Miss announcement on Jefferson:

At this point I would say that’s a wrap on this signing day thread, but it’s signing day, and you just never know.

3:20 p.m.

Some video here from the Hugh Freeze presser. This is his opening statement. He talks a lot about getting the kids that were the “right fit” for Ole Miss:

Today is a day that everyone wants to celebrate the recruits, mostly high school, that sign today. I get that. But in considering the totality of the Ole Miss class — the impact — you have to go back to December.

It’s likely the starting quarterback, Chad Kelly, will come from that signing day. That day also includes a five-star freshman offensive lineman, Javon Patterson, who is already enrolled in school.

Freeze hadn’t commented much on those guys, especially Kelly, but he does here. The Kelly comments are near the end. He takes full ownership of the idea that this might not work out, that Kelly could do something that gets him kicked out of the program, something that might “embarrass” the program and Freeze himself.

2:57 p.m.

I’m over at the coliseum now about to try and make sense of the day’s events.

Within the last five minutes four-star wide receiver Van Jefferson announced he will sign with Ole Miss.

A couple of thoughts here:

It’s a huge pick-up for Ole Miss. When you combine the quality of wide receivers in this class it maintains some polish that might have been lost when Drew Richmond bolted. Leo Lewis too, but as Lewis is headed to Co-Lin he wouldn’t have helped much next year anyway.

Why, though, all the drama for Jefferson, who had verbally committed to Ole Miss? I’d love to have heard some conversations around the Jefferson camp today.

1:36 p.m.

Jason Pellerin is intriguing. He’s not rated particularly highly with three stars and as the No. 21 dual threat quarterback.

Obviously he was evaluated as a guy that can help the program. In Ryan Buchanan the Rebels have a solid pocket passer. Chad Kelly and DeVante Kincade are running threats, both of them sub-6-2.

Those three will compete for the starter’s job in the spring. My guess is Kelly comes out the winner.

Pellerin won’t need to play next year but when he does he’s a 6-4 guy who can sit in the pocket with the athleticism to get to the edge and make plays.

Standing 6-4 means you can see the field. It doesn’t automatically mean you can make reads, come off your primary receiver and still release the ball in time. That’s a gift that is enhanced by height not guaranteed by height.

Bo Wallace wasn’t a stiff. Mobility was a big part of his game but it was more about elusiveness, feeling pressure and getting away from it, than outright running to the corner and making a play.

If Pellerin can make reads and make good decisions he has some very important physical tools in his corner.

It’s also interesting to not the Rebels, right now, appear to be making a good connection with Shreveport, La.’s, Shea Patterson, the No. 1 quarterback in the Class of 16 and another dual threat guy. Patterson is listed at 6-2.

It’s hard to get excited about recruits a year out. A lot can happen in a year. As today reminds us annually, a lot can happen in a morning.

1:21 p.m.

I am interested to see what Eric Swinney can do when he gets to campus. He was an early commit, and there was no drama. Rivals rates him the No. 10 running back in the country and the No. 115 overall player.

Last summer we talked about the number of Ole Miss running backs, good players. It was the position most likely to have attrition, and now Mark Dodson and I’Tavius Mathers have transferred.

Listed at 5-10, 185 Swinney looks at first glance like a lot of other backs in the program.

While the offensive line is often the first position mentioned in trying to build a consistent running game it takes a special back too, and it’s not always bout size and strength.

Dexter McCluster was a great back because in addition to his speed he could stop on a dime and change directions. Ask the Vols.

Jaylen Walton has some of that but with a little less quickness. Maybe Swinney brings that to the table too.

Running back will be an interesting position to watch in the spring. Swinney won’t be here, but Akeem Judd will get meaningful reps for the first time. He has the size. If he has the strength for yards after contact he could get a lot done next year.

Going into 2015 the running backs will look a lot like 2014 — a lot of potential.

1:12 p.m.

Cece Jefferson to Florida.

1 p.m.

Getting settled into the team meeting room for the 2 p.m. presser. Van Jefferson is supposed to announce at 1:30. I doubt it will be good. Seems to me, just speculating, that maybe his dad wasn’t enamored with Ole Miss. Maybe he surprises and sticks with his commitment.

Cece Jefferson’s announcement is still out there. It’s not expected to be Ole Miss.

This class is about done. It has some really good players at some need spots. It has some project guys who can be good players in time.

The good news for Ole Miss is that the program has reached a state where that’s OK. All freshmen don’t need to play right away.

11:38 a.m.

Still no word on Van Jefferson. I don’t view the silence as a positive development. We’ll see.

11:27 a.m.

Head to Head radio is reporting that New York DL Austrian Robinson will pick Ole Miss over Maryland. I’m hearing now that Van Jefferson was to have an 11 a.m. announcement.

11:17 a.m.

JD and Lance Tolbert on the air. Ole Miss co-OC and QB coach Dan Werner is stopping by around 11:30.

JD and Lance

11:11 a.m.

DaMarkus Lodge announces for Ole Miss on ESPNU. He actually said University of Mississippi and not Ole Miss. That’s always dangerous territory on signing day and Lodge deserves credit for navigating that path without saying “University of Ole Miss.”

10:56 a.m.

Just finished a segment with JD on the air. Awaiting the Lodge announcement shortly. Still waiting on the Jeffersons, Van and Cece. Van, the four-star WR from Brentwood, has been an Ole Miss commit for about two weeks. He visited Michigan last weekend. Could be something to keep an eye on. I never heard a ceremony time for him.

10:11 a.m.

West Orange (Fla.) sports editor Steven Ryzewski is reporting that Orlando athlete Jalen Julius has picked Ole Miss. The school has not yet announced Julius. He was set to choose from between Notre Dame and Louisville. Miami also made a late push. Julius (5-11, 173) will likely play slot receiver and help on special teams. He also played cornerback in high school, but the Rebels have added a lot of DBs.

Given Julius’ name and high school (West Orange High School, Winter Garden, Fla.) doesn’t his nickname have to be Orange Julius? Of course it does. And if you shopped at any mall in the 80s you know what that is.

10:01 a.m.

I’ve moved my base of operations to The Rib Cage. JD and others will be on the air talking signing day from 10-12 on WQLJ-FM 93.7. Most of the hay’s in the barn as far as announcing signees. Drew Richmond is past tense. He has officially signed with Tennessee. A couple of key announcements are left in DaMarkus Lodge, who most think will sign with Ole Miss, and Cece Jefferson, who many think will not. In the lag time Ole Miss has started putting out Twitter art and announcements of its December signees, freshman OL Javon Patterson and the juco group.

It’s been kind of a “soft” announcement of Chad Kelly, if you will. From the time Hugh Freeze said Kelly, after his late December arrest, had some work to do and things to accomplish before being welcomed into the program, Freeze never did publicly announce Kelly.

Kelly’s name made it to the roster on the website at some point, and Freeze confirmed to me at the Senior Bowl hotel in Mobile that he would accept Kelly.

That’s no big shock. When he reached the “work to do” stage it was pretty much a done deal. That would have changed, of course, had Kelly gotten into trouble again or balked at the plan. It appears he has done all that’s been required so far.

As I mentioned below he’ll be part of that mission trip to Haiti. Maybe he’ll get some real benefit himself from helping others.

9:20 a.m.

The signing of Louisiana four-star DE Joe Anderson has been announced. Grades are an issue. Prep school, juco candidate.

9:19 a.m.

Here at the QB club gathering Yancy Porter of The Ole Miss Spirit just said Alex Givens true weight is up to 295.

9:00 a.m.

I’d heard that troubled QB signee Chad Kelly will be part of the football program’s mission trip to Haiti over spring break, and there’s some talk about that here.

This won’t count toward his community service, I’m told.

The Haiti experience may not be life-changing for Kelly, but these trips can yield that type of change. Going and helping people who are far less wealthy than you — even before a natural disaster — can be a humbling experience and cause you to reevaluate things.

8:55 a.m.

Georgia DB Montrell Custis has become official.

8:47 a.m.

Alex Givens and Michael Howard are suddenly interesting case studies in this class. With the loss of Drew Richmond a lot of focus will suddenly be on Givens and Howard when the question “Did you meet needs” is asked.

Offensive line is a tremendous need area. With the signing of Javon Patterson, who is already enrolled, Ole Miss has the more significant pick-up between Patterson and Richmond. That’s because there’s greater immediate need on the OL interior among the guards, and that’s where Patterson, rated the No. 6 guard in the country by Rivals, fits in.

Givens and Howard are both tackles, both with very tall — and right now somewhat lean — frames. They’re unlikely candidates for playing time next year. Rivals lists Givens at 6-6 276 and Howard at 6-6 245.

At 245 — and remember signing day heights and weights are often questionable — Howard is lighter than new linebacker pick-up Shawn Curtis.

I know our John Davis spoke with Givens’ high school coach. He really praised his player’s footwork. That’s the deal with these guys. Footwork is just as important as brute strength at tackle. If Givens and Howard have the athleticism they can gain the weight and strength and be important contributors … over time.

8:36 a.m.

I am hunkered down at the Oxford Conference Center now, site of the QB Club’s annual signing day event.

I’ll be mobile again in about an hour and will ride over to the Rib Cage where JD will host a signing day radio show from 10-12.

In the meantime, RB Eric Swinney and OL Alex Givens are now official.

8:32 a.m.

What had been a very positive vibe on five-star defensive Cece Jefferson has turned south. He announces at 1 p.m. on ESPNU.

While Jefferson may be a long shot, JD tells me the Curtis kid Ole Miss picked up this morning is a “diamond in the rough.” JD has a lot of ties in South Florida, having grown up there. Larry Blustein of the Miami Herald is a guy JD has a long friendship with. He says Curtis is an NFL talent that kind of fell through the cracks because of the abundance of talent in South Florida.

Much more on Curtis in JD’s post.

Curtis definitely comes in at a need position at linebacker. If MLB is where he truly ends up he’s already the biggest on the Rebels’ roster at 6-3 247.

The flipping of the long-time Pitt commit pretty much confirms the ship has sailed on Leo Lewis.

8:26 a.m.

Paper work has come in on cornerback Cameron Ordway. He’s official.

8:15 a.m.

OL Michael Howard, QB Jason Pellerin, DL Rasool Clemons, DB Armani Linton, DL Ross Donelly and ATH Willie Hibbler have been announced as official signees.

7 a.m.

Coming to you from the eastern time zone DB Zedrick Woods and LB Shawn Curtis have already signed and been announced. I am on the road to Oxford. Updates to follow here.

This is the scene at the Oxford Conference Center this morning:


Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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  • Lee814

    Parrish, one of the comments from Freeze mentioned academic issues on three signed players. Do you happen to know which three to which he was referring? Given Lewis will probably go the JUCO route, that probably was not a big loss. Richmond was always the one who was most important, so losing him hurts. The O Line could have really used him.

    • Parrish Alford

      I am thinking Hibbler, Anderson and not sure on the third.

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