Very Little Drama

With every signing day there are ups and downs, peaks and valleys.

It's going to happen.

Every coaching staff in America is in scramble mode late in the game for two or three players who simply have not made up their minds fully and coaches – as they are paid to do – turn on the charm and pressure to get their late signatures.

It's a win-some-lose-some proposition because these are usually – not always, but usually – kids where strong and long relationships have not been developed and it's more a Hail Mary than the ideal recruitment situation where the seed was planted and the tree has grown over the course of a year or more.

Hugh Freeze and his staff faced this many times in the last two-three weeks of the 2014 recruiting year – teams coming after a number of their commitments hard and fast. And not just any teams, big-time teams.

The list is too long to rehash, but the likes of Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Florida State, Georgia, Auburn and a few more all tried a late raid of the Rebs' cupboard. There were many, many sleepless nights spent solidifying recruits who had cast their lots with the Rebels a long time ago, but were suddenly being bombarded by staffs from several directions.

In the end, however, it was the relationships the Rebel coaches had carefully crafted over the last year, or more, that enabled them to keep the talent they had previously secured and eventually sign Wednesday.


Garrald McDowell
File Photo

While many fans were wanting signing day surprises and late gets, the Reb coaches were more focused on keeping who they had already committed, no small feat in this cutthroat world of football recruiting.

In the end, it paid off.

Studs like Breeland Speaks, Kendarius Webster, Markell Pack, Garrald McDowell and Sammie Epps – all chased by others late – held firm. Imagine this class had they not? A 13th slipped into oblivion.

And there were more faced with the temptation and allure of other schools, but you get the drift.

That's not to say the Reb coaches signed everyone they wanted or felt they had until the last minute. There were a couple of those too, and even Hugh Freeze admitted they "hurt," but for the most part, Ole Miss held serve with their main targets and came away with another stellar class, one Freeze said, "doesn't have the national star power of last year's class but could very well be better from top to bottom."

The Rebs also pulled off a late "surprise" in Tee Shepard, arguably Mississippi State's top recruit in a last-second coup.

OL Jordan Sims, although rejected by home schools Bama and Auburn, was an Army All-American who came on board late. Good get for a team that needs as many big eaters as it can get.

Also notable are the mid-year players. I've been stump-preaching about these guys for weeks because I do not want anyone taking them for granted even though they were already signed, sealed and delivered.

C.J. Hampton, Jeremy Liggins, Christian Morris, Christian Russell, Kendrick Doss and Marquis Haynes will give this team a different (better) look this spring. They are very athletic guys with versatility and a high- level skill set who should, with the benefit of a spring training, help this team quickly.

And all that is with barely a mention of Parade All-American OL Rod Taylor, the dynamic Moore twins from Bassfield, TB Akeem Judd, Texas sack king Victor Evans, speed merchant D.K. Buford and others.

Some can lament the lack of "drama" at the end. Some can lament the "ones who got away." Some can even lament the drop in rankings from last year to this year.

But I'll take this type of class, quality and quantity, every year and forget the drama and the losses. I'll not cry in my milk over this class. To the contrary, I will celebrate it. There's no legitimate reason not to be upbeat about the results.

Kudos to the Rebel staff for a signing class that adds a lot of positive things to the existing roster.


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