By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Channing Ward’s wait is over.
The All-American from Aberdeen, an Ole Miss signee, was cleared to join the Rebels by the NCAA on Friday morning.
“Finally cleared,” Ward wrote on his Twitter account.
Ward’s status has become a daily discussion among many Ole Miss fans.
How he will be worked into the on-going camp remains to be seen.
“I’m so excited for Channing and his family,” said Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. “He is a tremendous young man, and it’s great to finally have him here with us. It was a long process, but we were confident throughout that he had done everything necessary to be cleared.
“Obviously he has missed a couple weeks of practice, and our staff is going to work hard to quickly bring him up to speed. We’ll have to wait and see how quickly he gets acclimated, but he certainly has the talent to be a factor this season.”
The Rebels have been practicing since Aug. 5. Their most recent workout was Friday morning.
They will be back on the field this morning at 9:30 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the second major scrimmage of camp, with fan day activities to follow.
The scrimmage is open to the public.
Ward, who achieved a qualifying ACT test score in July, arrives at a position of need, defensive end, where Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and his staff have been searching for increased pass-rushing off the edge.
In the off-season Freeze spoke of Ward as a player who was physically ready to contribute. The delay in his clearance has cost him valuable learning time. Ward is listed at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds.
Recently, E.J. Epperson, who moved from tight end at the start of camp, replaced senior Cameron Whigham with the first team. Whigham is a junior, Epperson a senior. Sophomore C.J. Johnson is the other starter.
Ward had a number of offers from top SEC teams, including LSU and Alabama, along with offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn and more.
During his recruiting process Ward said he liked the idea of playing close to family. His brother, Taurus Ward, is a backup defensive lineman on the team.
Ward was rated the No. 1 player in Mississippi, the No. 51 player nationally and the No. 4 defensive end by Rivals.com.
Over his final two seasons at Aberdeen, Ward posted 235 tackles and 29 sacks. He is a three-time Class 3A defensive player of the year.