By Parrish Alford and Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Today is national signing day, the first day on which high school recruits can sign binding scholarship papers with NCAA universities.
For Ole Miss, it’s the first signing day for the Rebels under new coach Hugh Freeze. For Mississippi State, it’s the fourth under Dan Mullen.
For MSU, this is shaping up as the strongest class yet under Mullen, who enters today with 26 commitments. Five of them are already on campus, with three junior college players having signed in December during the juco signing period.
Defensive end Denico Autry and defensive tackle Quay Evans are two of those five, and they’re the stars of this MSU class, which is heavy on defensive players. State is expected to add a pair of linebackers today, Beniquez Brown and Richie Brown (no relation).
Of the 26 current commitments to the Bulldogs, 16 come from Mississippi high schools and junior colleges. According to Scout.com, MSU has commitments from the top four players in the state and five of the top eight, and that stat will be even better if one – or both – of the Browns sign.
Winning the in-state recruiting battle has been a big point of emphasis for Mullen, who by most accounts fell short last year to Freeze’s predecessor, Houston Nutt.The Rebels arrive at this day with 16 announced verbal commitments. Verbal commitments are non-binding, and changes can occur at the final minute.
Among the stars of the Rebels’ class is Aberdeen All-American defensive end Channing Ward.
There is also great anticipation for quarterback Bo Wallace, a transfer from East Mississippi Community College, who set records last season in leading the Lions to the community college national championship.
One of the most highly sought prospects in the area, Lafayette quarterback Jeremy Liggins, considered both Ole Miss and Mississippi State before finally settling on LSU, a choice he announced in a public ceremony Monday evening in Oxford.
Undecided area players who could sign today include quarterback Forest Williams of Amory.