CATEGORY: FOC College Football
TURNOUTS MATCHES REBELS’ BIG DAY
By Chris Burrows
OXFORD More than 200 avid Ole Miss fans gathered Wednesday in the lobby and outer offices of the school’s Athletic Building, home base for the football program.
“This is something else, isn’t it?” asked head coach Tommy Tuberville. “I don’t know which group is happier, the fans or us.”
Ole Miss lists 36 players as signees, although the school has only 13 scholarships because of NCAA penalties. The school’s policy is not to distinguish the scholarship signees from the walk-ons.
“Obviously they aren’t all on scholarship, but we found players that would rather come here and earn a scholarship than sign one from another school,” Tuberville said. “That’s a tribute to them and the assistant coaches that recruited them.”
Tuberville, who listed recruiting as “priority one” when he got the job, passed the recruiting praise to the assistant coaches.
“We had nine guys (assistant coaches) that worked their butts off for this program,” Tuberville said. “They’ve done a great job over the past 364 days. They went everywhere and had a great school to sell. The proof is today.”
Among the signees is a strong Northeast Mississippi flavor, a total of eight players, including Parade All-American Rufus French of Amory.
“One of our goals in recruiting was to dig a hole around this state and keep the top recruits here,” Tuberville said. “Most accounts will say we signed at least half of the state’s top dozen recruits and I think we did better than that.
“That’s what you have to do to be successful. That’s something we want to do every year. Nobody can get all of the best players, but if we sign at least half, you’ll see an immediate difference on the field.”
Another visible difference on the field will be a taller Ole Miss team. Tuberville’s list of recruits show 21 players at 6-foot-2 or taller. The tallest signee is a junior college offensive lineman, 6-5 Britton Smith.
“I never want to sign a player that has to come in here and lose weight,” Tuberville said. “But I learned a long time ago that you sign those tall guys that can play.
“They’ll almost always get taller, gain more weight and they look good when they get here. I’ve also learned the better they look, the better they play. We were able to sign a few last year and we got more this time.”
Tuberville said the Rebels might add an additional few players over the next week – pending the signing results throughout the country.
“But the main focus is today. Our people are excited, our coaches are excited and I know the players we got today are excited, too.