By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
There was a time when you could look at an Ole Miss recruiting class, see two four-star quarterbacks and think, “Wow.”
Ryan Buchanan, the pocket passer, and Devante Kincade, Mr. Mobility, are certainly important components.
Both were early commits who stuck with Ole Miss, so their headlines were a bit distant during the recent days of the real drama surrounding Chris Jones and the show drama around Robert Nkemdiche.
Had the Rebels successfully flipped Jones, they would have had arguably the two best defensive end signees in the country. Without Jones, and with the late loss of Elijah Daniel, Nkemdiche was the only defensive end to sign.
It’s nit-picking an excellent class, a top 10 class, to say there’s only one defensive end. You can’t win them all, and Hugh Freeze won more of them than any previous Ole Miss coach en route to a top 10 ranking.
The next step for the Rebels’ high-profile signees? The courtship is over, and it will be time to see who will play up to their internet evaluations.
Nkemdiche can be an early impact guy, so can wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who could be a big and physical target opposite Donte Moncrief.
The intriguing part of the class are the offensive line signees. Laremy Tunsil is rated the No. 1 offensive tackle prospect by everybody, Golson the No. 3 offensive tackle by ESPN.
It’s typically more difficult for offensive linemen to play early, and Ole Miss returns to senior starters at the tackles.
With Tunsil and Golson, plus Mississippi signees Daronte Bouldin and Davion Johnson and redshirted linemen from last year’s class, it’s going to be a fun August for offensive line coach Matt Luke.
The starter lost is A.J. Hawkins at right guard. Senior Patrick Junen will step into that spot in the spring, but Luke will have more parts and pieces to work with in camp. It’s possible there could be some shuffling in the effort to get the best five players on the field.
There was too much pressure on the quarterbacks in 2012, and short-yardage situations were sometimes problematic.
Freeze said when he was hired the offensive line would be the last group to fully understand and become accustomed to the tempo offense. Now two classes of linemen on the college level will be exposed only to his system.
That’s an example of growth.
As highly ranked as this class is, it will take growth and time to realize how good it can be.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@ journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at InsideOleMissSports.com.