Freeze defends recruitment of Houston DE

OleMissLogoBy Parrish Alford
Daily Journal

OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze says he stands behind his staff’s recruitment of former Houston star Chris Jones.

The pursuit of the five-star defensive end reached a fever pitch between Ole Miss and Mississippi State right up until National Signing Day when Jones chose the Bulldogs.

Late Sunday, Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com posted a report citing a source that said the NCAA has interviewed Jones about his recruitment byOle Miss.

After the Rebels’ morning practice on Monday, Freeze defended himself and his staff.

“I’m very confident in the way we’re going about business here, the way want to do it,” Freeze said. “I’ve said that from Day 1.”

So confident was Freeze in his staff’s recruiting approach that shortly after national signing day he challenged Twitter users who alleged improper tactics to contact the Ole Miss athletics department with proof of their accusations.

There were many responses to Freeze’s challenge, but most were baseless, athletics director Ross Bjork told the Daily Journal in mid-February.

There was follow-up on some accusations that Bjork felt could have merit, but nothing has yet come from those allegations.

Much of the discontent then stemmed from the recruiting of Lake City, Fla., offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, not Jones.

It’s the second time in two weeks that Freeze has answered questions about an NCAA recruiting matter. Last week it was about Rebels defensive end C.J. Johnson, who was recruited and signed by the former staff, another head-to-head battle between MSU and Ole Miss.

On the field
Freeze was pleased to see his offense bounce back and spoke in softer tones about that group’s performance in Saturday’s scrimmage than he did immediately afterward.

After struggling in the wet conditions at the scrimmage, the offense responded with a turnover- free day and numerous scoring plays.

“It’s never as bad as it seems and probably never as good as it seems,” Freeze said.

The Rebels also practiced Monday evening in a closed session and will return to work today.

Sophomore defensive lineman Issac Gross went through a full practice for the first time, and freshman tight end Evan Engram, who was being groomed for playing was back after a lengthy stay on the injured list.

Projected starting cornerbacks Charles Sawyer – who is recovering from two off-season surgeries – and Senquez Golson (hamstring) remain out.

Sophomore running back I’Tavius Mathers, in the running to be Jeff Scott’s primary back-up, missed practice with an ankle injury.

There’s no word on when he might return.

parrish.alford@journalinc.com