By NEMS Daily Journal
We asked Parrish Alford and Brad Locke to guess which less-talked-about signee might be a difference-maker for the Rebels and Bulldogs this fall.
Rebels: Derrick Jones, WR, Eupora
Oxford – If Derrick Jones was truly flying under the radar in Ole Miss’ top 10 recruiting class, it may be hard for him to do that much longer.
Jones saw his profile raised when Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze raved about him at the Wednesday press conference.
“Derrick Jones may be one of the hidden games in this class,” Freeze told reporters.
At Eupora, Jones as been named all-district in basketball as well as football. Freeze, who has basketball in his blood after winning championships as the girls coach at Briarcrest Christian School, made note of Jones’ athleticism and his play above the rim.
Jones is listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, a frame that can grow.
That may make Jones a candidate to redshirt this fall, considering there are five wide receivers in the class – including the nation’s No. 1-ranked wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell, and a four-star prospect from the Dallas metro area, Quincy Adeboyejo, for whom Ole Miss trumped Texas Tech, Baylor, Nebraska and others.
Jones narrowly missed 1,000 yards on 44 catches as a Eupora senior. He was named all-state and listed as the No. 9 player in Mississippi.
A redshirt year could be in his future, but if basketball play above the rim translates to leaping grabs next August, Jones will make that a difficult decision for Freeze.
Bulldogs: Jake Thomas, OT, Columbus
Starkville – National signing day has a natural focus on the present, but the ramifications are long-term. For Mississippi State, one of the best long-term benefits of Wednesday’s class could be in the form of Jake Thomas.
The offensive tackle from Columbus hasn’t received near as much hype as some of his fellow signees. But the Bulldogs have struggled to find solid tackle play the last couple of seasons, and Thomas could become part of the answer there.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder played left tackle at Columbus.
MSU head coach Dan Mullen, who’s been watching Thomas since eighth grade, said “one thing that helps him is he’s been big for a long time, so he know how to move his body. He’s adjusted to being a big man and can move his feet.”
Thomas said he was 6-4, 270 in ninth grade, when he played tight end.
He’s not locked in as a tackle at State; in fact, Thomas played guard in Tuesday’s International Bowl, a high school All-Star game.
Thomas said that “we kind of agreed that I have the ability to move along the line. I’m not really set at any specific place.”