Thunder & Lightning
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Thunder & Lightning

When you are in a state with an outstanding junior college system, why not tap into it for talent? That's excatly what Hugh Freeze has done with mid-year signees/enrollees DL Lavon Hooks and WR Quadarias Mireles.

Ole Miss roommates Lavon Hooks, a four-star defensive lineman from Northeast CC, and Q. Mireles, a wideout from Hinds CC, have the look.

Hooks, at 6-4, 300 pounds, is all about power. Mireles, at 5-11, 180, is all about speed.

Now, the dynamic duo are teammates and preparing for spring training and their transition into major college football.

Mireles' story is well-documented, but a refresher course is probably appropriate.

He signed with Ole Miss and Houston Nutt's staff in 2010 out of Delray Beach, Fla., where he was a dynamic and electric skill player.

He didn't make it academically and opted to sign with Hinds Community College. In the meantime, there was a coaching change at Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze and his staff took over.

Mireles kept grinding and kept his dream to play at Ole Miss alive.

"I'm so excited to finally get here," he said. "I had to cross a bridge to get where I wanted to be. I just put it in God's hands and let Him work. At the end of the day, I'm here where I want to be."

It didn't matter - much - to Mireles that he would be playing under a different coach than he originally signed with.

"At first, when the change was made, I was concerned, but when I realized Coach Freeze wanted me too, everything was fine. He's a great guy and someone I knew I could play for," Mireles noted. "I really wanted to come to Ole Miss because of the fans and I wanted the fans to know I was loyal to the program. I feel at home when I'm here, and that means everything to me."

Once that hurdle was cleared and a decision was made, Mireles went about the job of starring for Hinds and getting prepared for major college ball.


Lavon Hooks
File Photo

"Hinds is a very good program. I grew up and matured at Hinds. The weight program and conditioning program got me stronger and in great shape and prepared me for the next level," he said.

Mireles depends on speed as his main weapon.

"I'm fast, elusive and quick. I seem to have a knack for getting in the end zone when I get the ball in my hands," he assessed.

Mireles caught 38 balls for 385 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 47 times for 249 yards and two TDs out of the tailback slot his sophomore year at Hinds.

Mireles' goals as a Rebel are team oriented and simple.

"I want to help Ole Miss win the national title," he closed.

The massive Hooks had a different journey to Ole Miss.

The four-star signee had a good freshman year at NECC, but he really burst on the scene during his sophomore year.

"I really didn't expect the volume of offers I ended up getting, and they were all great schools," he said. "At one point, recruiting got real confusing and everyone started sounding the same.

"Everyone sounded good and every location was really good. I didn't know what to do."

Finally, he decided to make his choice based on his family's feelings and needs.

"I just put it in the hands of my family. Wherever they were happy, I would be happy. I knew if they were comfortable, I would be comfortable," he noted. "They're a little over six hours away and can get here any time. My Dad's a truck driver so six hours is nothing to him.

"They wanted me here, I liked it here and now I'm happy and they're happy."

Hooks spent one year at Marion Military School after high school. He played basketball, but not football, at Marion.

His freshman year at NECC was spent getting used to football again.


Darryan Ragsdale
File Photo

"I'd never played defense before. I was a receiver in high school, so it took me some time to adjust to everything," he explains.

Hooks was 230 out of high school, 270 out of Marion and now 300 out of NECC.

"I feel I'm a playmaker on the defensive front. I believe I'm equal at shutting down the run or disrupting the passing game," he added. "I believe I can help the Ole Miss defensive line become dominant in the SEC. That's my goal - to help our defensive line be the best in the country."

He had 58 tackles, 22 for loss, and 10 quarterback sacks his sophomore season at NECC. For his efforts, he was named the Mississippi JUCO DL of the Year.

The Rebels also got a recent "bonus" out of the JUCO ranks - walk-on RB Darryan Ragsdale from Hinds CC via Pelahatchie, Miss.

"I qualified late, after signing day, in high school, so I signed with Hinds after graduation. I was hurt my freshman year at Hinds, but Coach (Derrick) Nix stuck with me and told me he wanted me to come as a preferred walk-on," said Ragsdale, a 6-0 195-pounder.

Ragsdale considers himself a combo back, capable of speed and power. Mireles agreed.

"He's fast, he can move," said Mireles, who can move a little bit himself.

"I just want to come in here and prove myself in spring," said Ragsdale. "I'll do anything to help the team win and I'll show that to the coaches in spring."

As a sophomore, Ragsdale had 108 carries for 740 yards at Hinds.