By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – National signing day arrives today with a very different feel for Ole Miss.
A year ago, the Rebels’ class included the nation’s No. 1 recruit, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche.
There were more five-star recruits in the fold, with the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver in Laquon Treadwell and the No. 1 offensive tackle in Laremy Tunsil.
In what became a consensus top 10-rated signing class Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze talked about the “natural ins” he had building relationships with those high school prospects.
Nkemdiche had a brother, Denzel Nkemdiche, on the roster. Treadwell had a good friend, and a former Ole Miss assistant, Wesley McGriff, had a relationship with Treadwell’s high school coach.
While Freeze and his staff welcomed ESPN cameras to campus, the Ole Miss head coach would later say that a top 10 class, while great when you get it, was not necessary to build the program he wants to build at Ole Miss.
“I think one of the strengths of our class are the four-star and high-three stars we got,” Freeze said at his signing day news conference. “Those guys are not getting talked about a lot, and we think they’re superstars.”
This year the Rebels appear headed for a Top 15 class. On Signing Day Eve, the Ole Miss commits are ranked No. 13 by 247Sports and No. 15 by Rivals, Scout and ESPN.
Rod Taylor’s stock peaks at the No. 47-ranked player according to 247Sports. ESPN has him at 56, Scout at 58 and Rivals at 106.
Are you into height and weight listings?
Taylor goes as small at 305 with 247Sports and as big as 323 with ESPN.
Offensive line is a position of need, but less so after Tunsil won the starting job midway through the season. Had he not, the Rebels would be looking at openings at both tackles and center. As it is, junior college transfer Fahn Cooper will compete for the starting job at right tackle. Center will remain a question mark.
Though he’s not made a public announcement, the Rebels have a shot at another guard, Jordan Sims, rated the top Class 5A lineman in Alabama.
Other uncommitted prospects the Rebels could reel in today include New Orleans cornerback Terrence Alexander and wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie and running back Dacorious Law, both from Florida.
The class includes 11 players from Mississippi, including Taylor and his Jackson Callaway teammate defensive end Breeland Speaks, the No. 1 and 3 players in the state according to Rivals.