By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – A previous relationship with the new offensive line coach helped Ole Miss pick up an offensive line commit this week to offset the loss of OL commit Jake Meador, who had long been in place.
Robert Conyers of Miami had been recruited to Duke by new Ole Miss assistant Matt Luke, but it didn’t take him long to push the Rebels to the top of his list.
He said he was caught off guard by the appearance of the Ole Miss campus and community. He expected less.
“It was kind of like a shock at how nice it was, the red brick buildings and all that,” he said. “I was impressed with the coaching staff and how nice the campus was when I got there.”
Conyers can play guard or tackle and is listed at 6-foot-5, 277 pounds and is a three-star prospect by Rivals.com.
Amid high expectations for the 2011 season, the Ole Miss offensive line was ranked No. 2 in the nation last preseason by analyst Phil Steele.
But the Rebels finished 10th in the SEC in rushing offense, 11th in passing offense, total offense and scoring offense.
The Rebels will return their regular-season finale starters in guard Patrick Junen, center Evan Swindall and guard Matt Hall, a former tackle. Starting tackles Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie – the latter having declared for the NFL draft – will not return.
Conyers said he was aware of problems along last year’s offensive line. “I know they struggled, but I think that was more coaching than anything else,” he said.
Luke, the co-offensive coordinator, told Conyers of a plan for dramatic changes to the offense under new coach Hugh Freeze.
“He talked to me a lot about the change of offensive scheme. They’re going to run a different system now, an up-tempo, hurry-up offense. I think I fit into that great,” Conyers said.
He described his high school’s offense as up-tempo with emphasis on running the football.
As many as 20 prospects are expected for visits this weekend.
The news Monday that the nation’s No. 1 quarterback prospect, Gunner Kiel, had de-committed from LSU could have a trickle down effect with regard to the Ole Miss recruitment of Lafayette County quarterback Jeremy Liggins.
Liggins, who visited Mississippi State over the weekend, has said he’ll announce on Jan. 30 on the Square in Oxford.
In spite of the lack of depth at running back, the Rebels do not appear to be searching for a junior college signee at the position, a sign perhaps that Freeze likes his standing with a class that currently lists three running back commits including four-star prospect I’Tavius Mathers.