Talking Signees

Hugh Freeze and his staff didn't win all the battles. But nobody expected them to. They did, however, make up a lot of ground and are already looking toward next year.

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"We're obviously excited to have this day come and to get it over," said the first-year head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels. "And get our guys in the boat and move toward spring ball and who we're going to become here."

"I'm very excited about our class," he continued. "I'll never stand before you any years and say it's a great class. I think that's proven in time. But I do think it's a very good class and a solid class in the time that we had to try to develop the relationships in the tough recruiting battles you face in this conference.

"So we're thrilled with a lot of the outcomes we had. Obviously we want to compete for every kid we go after and get all of them. We did not have but 13 slots for today to get to our 85. So we were somewhat choosy about the battles we chose down the road."

Freeze broke down the class position by position.

"Starting with the quarterback position, getting the junior college player of the year in Bo Wallace we think was a big hit for us, and just doing that in a week and a half or two weeks times was great," he said.

"We had to address the need at running back. Kenno Loyal, who is a huge, physical back we needed in this conference, was a guy we held on to at the end. Getting I'tavius Mathers, player of the year in Tennessee, was probably the most physical back in the class. He has some physical size to him and also great speed. Thrilled with him back on board with us. Good job by particularly Coach (Derrick) Nix and Coach (Maurice) Harris getting him back. Then Jaylen Walton, a speed back, a scat back, out of Memphis.

"So we had a great mixture there (at running back), and those young kids are going to have to come in and play right away with the depth issues we have at tailback."

Freeze continued through the offense.

"Offensive line-wise, we think we hit a home run with Pierce Burton, who was the MVP of the national championship game in junior college ball. He's already here on campus along with Darone Bailey. Today we pulled in Ben Still out of Memphis, which is a place we need to do well in, and Robert Conyers is a young kid at 17. But he wrestles alligators so he's gotta be tough. I think our fans will loves him."

Wide receiver was a position that is fairly loaded, so few newcomers got look from the Rebel staff.

"Wide receiver is not a position that was of need due to the numbers we have here with young kids. We're fortunate to get Cody Core out of Auburn, who is a big 6-3 that can play a lot of places and has a huge upside to him.

"Athletically we've got some swing guys in Quintavius Burdette and Mike Hilton. Mike is a guy a lot of schools came on late and we were able to hold on out of Atlanta. Burdette is one of my favorites of the class, probably because he's from Mississippi, No. 1, and from my hometown. I think he's just going to be a phenomenal player. I know he loves this place with a lot of passion."

Bo Wallace

The other side of the ball got some help as well.

Defensive line is probably where we hit the biggest home run. Obviously in this conference, you've gotta win on the defensive line. To land Channing Ward and Issac Gross, two UnderArmour All-American guys, and to get those guys to come in as freshmen and get ready to play is a huge get for us. Both being Mississippi guys means a lot to us also. Certainly it's well documented how good they are.

"We're thrilled with those two, and Kameron Wood who was signed with the previous staff, a very explosive pass rusher. Looking forward to seeing him in spring ball.

"Then we went late on a guy named John Youngblood, which we had in camp twice at our previous school. We think he's going to be a great, great addition to our football team, not only as a player but a tremendous leader with great passion for the game. We think he's going to be big kid before it's all over. We project him to be another rush end. Plays standup outside linebacker right now in high school. But he is a 6-4, 230 frame, from a great family.

"Defensive backs we got Dehendret Collins at midyear, who led the Mississippi junior college ranks with 13 interceptions in his career there. Then of course, the latest news coming out today was when Trae Elston announced on national TV on ESPN, another UnderArmour All-American, that he was going to choose us over LSU and Oklahoma State, which was a huge get for us. Our whole staff took part in recruiting him. Just thrilled with the outcome of that."

Numbers were a factor for the staff this year, so that completed the class.

"That brought our signing class to a total of 19, which put us at 85," Freeze said.

Again, we had three UnderArmour All-American guys. We had the National junior College Player of the Year in Bo Wallace. We had the MVP of the National Junior College Championship Game in Pierce Burton. Six Mississippi players. Hopefully that will increase. That will be our goal. ESPN has us ranked pretty decent for the SEC after just having three weeks on the road with our staff.

All in all, we addressed some needs," he continued. "Most proud of our staff with the effort and energy and passion they put into it to develop some relationships and make some inroads in a lot of areas and hold onto some commitments that obviously loved Ole Miss. That's important to us that the families that choose to come here care and love this place. And I think it will show on the field when we get there with the passion they have for here. We're thrilled with this."

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