By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt celebrated a landslide of Mississippi talent Wednesday and thanked the mothers who helped make it happen.
But it was an out-of-state mother whose actions put a bizarre twist on the day’s events and made the Rebels 0 for 2 on two coveted high school cornerbacks.
On the home front, the Rebels signed the state’s top five prospects as rated by Rivals.com – Philadelphia linebacker C.J. Johnson, South Panola receiver Nick Brassell, Raleigh receiver Donte Moncrief, Jackson Callaway offensive lineman Aaron Morris and Madison Central receiver Tobias Singleton.
“The mothers of Mississippi are the MVPs. They believe in us,” Nutt said. “That should be in the headlines tomorrow.”
Instead the headlines will have to be shared by the mother of four-star cornerback Floyd Raven of Reserve, La. She wanted him to attend Ole Miss; she signed his papers and sent them in. Raven, who had been listed as an Ole Miss verbal commit, signed with Texas A&M.
“His mom really wanted him here,” Nutt said. “The bottom line is, when they told us that we said, ‘Hey look, I want you to do what’s in your heart, and I think at the time he wanted to go elsewhere.'”
That news came on the heels of the decision of Jermaine Whitehead – a four-star cornerback from Greenwood – to sign with Auburn.
While Nutt swung and missed with two highly sought cornerbacks, he feels he hit a home run with the class a whole, even in the secondary, which still includes high school corner Senquez Golson of Pascagoula and junior college transfer Wesley Pendleton, who is already on campus and will compete in spring drills.
“First and foremost we wanted to hit our secondary with taller, faster, stronger guys,” Nutt said. “We met those needs, our safeties and corners. We also got one of the best groups of receivers to ever come out of Mississippi.”
Nutt credited defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix for his work with Johnson, who is rated the No. 1 player in Mississippi, the No. 2 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 21 recruit overall.
Nutt said Nix learned at the U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio that Johnson, who had pledged to Mississippi State, was considering re-opening his recruitment.
Soon after he visited and committed to Ole Miss and became a leader and “ambassador” for Ole Miss recruiting, Nutt said.
“The more we got into living rooms, more feedback from mothers, the conversations of trust. They felt like they knew where we are going,” Nutt said.
The class includes 22 Wednesday signees and is ranked No. 18 by Rivals.com. Ole Miss signed five mid-year junior college transfers. Quarterback Barry Brunetti, a transfer from West Virginia, is also enrolled.
Nutt praised a group of five wide receivers, particularly Mississippians Brassell, Singleton and Moncrief.
“Singleton looks like a sophomore in college right now,” he said.
Two of Wednesday’s signees celebrated the day with the unpleasant backdrop of unresolved legal issues.
Singleton, a four-star prospect, faces a Feb. 28 court date over charges brought against him for domestic violence.
An arrest warrant was issued in January in Payne County, Okla., for Northwest Community College tight end Jamal Mosley for failing to make a court appearance for a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession in 2009 while a member of the Oklahoma State team.
“Some things have to play out in the courts, but from our research on both of them, we think we’re OK,” Nutt said.
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600