By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – When Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt welcomed his newcomers on Thursday he made no effort to shield them from what lies ahead.
“This is a very important class,” he said, stressing the importance for the group to remain intact. “There may be some that we redshirt, but they know we’re counting on them. If they stay together here the next four or five years, this could be the group that makes this place special … real special.”
Retention is something Nutt wants to improve within the program, one reason the 2011 class will be needed to add depth quickly particularly at linebacker and in the secondary.
“Linebacker is real thin, then defensive backs and receivers, and you can’t ever get enough linemen. Each year you want to sign four or five on each side of the ball,” Nutt said.
Building depth isn’t a one-year mission. Looking ahead to the 2012 class, one of the Rebels top early commits is Whiteland, Ind., offensive tackle Jake Meador (6-7, 312) who is rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com.
Defensively the Rebels picked up early commits from two South Panola standouts, tackle Isaac Gross (6-3, 270) and stand-up rush end Temario Strong (6-2, 210).
Gross is rated the state’s No. 4 prospect by Rivals.
With running backs Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis both seniors, the 2012 class will need to provide some help in the backfield.
The group of eight commits currently lists one running back, Jaylen Walton (5-8, 164) of Memphis.
Behind Bolden and Davis the Ole Miss roster also includes speedy sophomore Jeff Scott, fourth-year junior Devin Thomas – who ran for 92 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the spring game – and Nick Parker (5-11, 243), a redshirt freshman from South Panola.