Three Degrees

Two weeks ago yesterday. Two. Weeks. Yes, at long last, Ole Miss is in the final push to National Signing Day. Are the Rebels in for a flip or two? What about possible de-commitments? You have questions, we have answers.

THREE TO TURN

1. Four-star WR Van Jefferson:

Analysis: I know, I know. Jefferson isn’t, by definition, a true candidate to flip. Why? Simple. He’s currently a recruiting free agent. We’re rolling with him anyway because the 6-foot-2 1/2, 172-pound Jefferson was committed to Georgia from August until last Tuesday. Reports have surfaced, including THIS ONE from Scout.com national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons, that Jefferson is likely on his way to Oklahoma, or at least a heavy lean to the Sooners. He visited Norman last weekend. By all accounts the visit was a success. Because, well, official visits are almost always a success. Good news for Ole Miss, the natural “bump” following the trip has apparently worn off with no commitment made. The No. 13 wide receiver in the country confirmed to the Ole Miss Spirit he’s still slated to visit Ole Miss unofficially – meaning he will have to pay his own way – this weekend. Will he make the trip? If he does, the Rebels, who Jefferson has continually shown interest in since November, have to like their chances. He visited officially in December.


Custis is rated a four-star prospect by Scout.com.

2. Four-star DB Montrell Custis

Analysis: Each year, without fail, the final recruiting month yields “mystery” recruits, potential high-profile flips and the like. More often than not, however, the build-up is much ado about nothing. See, recruiting is, at its core, about relationships. Relationships built over multiple years of scouting and face-to-face meetings and phone calls and trust. There are many, many factors in a commitment, I grant you, but comfort level at least matters a little. That said, the closer schools and recruits draw to the first Wednesday in February, the tighter the numbers become. The 25-man scholarship limit. Other highly-ranked recruits at a given commitment’s position. Enter Custis, who popped up on Ole Miss’ radar in recent days. Rumors abound Alabama and the 6-foot, 185-pound safety out of Lovejoy, Ga., are nearing a split, meaning he’s open to all suitors. Once a pledge to Kentucky, the Wildcats are heavily in the mix, as is Florida. But don’t count out Ole Miss. The Rebels were in his home this week, and an official visit is in the works.

3. Three-star DL Tim Bonner

Analysis: Bonner, a three-star defensive end, chose Louisville in the summer. While he wasn’t lacking in in-hand scholarships, he wasn’t rich in them either. That is, until he collected 81 tackles, including 31 – THIRTY ONE – for loss, as a senior for Demopolis (Ala.) High School as a senior. Ole Miss, Missouri and Auburn, to name a few, made a push for Bonner in October and November, but it was Ole Miss that peaked his interest. He’s maintained a final two of Louisville and Ole Miss, but the question, it appears, is if the Rebels will have room even if he wanted to come. Due to scholarship limitations, Ole Miss won’t be able to sign a full class of 25. If the Rebels end up with a spot available, though? Expect a full-court press.



THREE TO HOLD

1. Four-star LB Leo Lewis

Analysis: If nothing else, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Lewis knows recruiting drama. Lewis, who is rated the No. 7 middle linebacker nationally, committed to Alabama in April. However, five months later, he opted for Ole Miss. While the Crimson Tide and, to a lesser extent, LSU remain in the running for his signature, most speculation over the last month has centered on in-state rival Mississippi State making a final play for the talented Brookhaven, Miss., product. The next two weeks will be filled with rumors from every direction, but sources indicate Ole Miss is confident with its position for Lewis and, in the end, will be able to hold onto to him.

2. Four-star OL Drew Richmond

Analysis: Richmond, like Lewis, has had no shortage of news regarding his recruitment. The 6-foot-5 1/2, 320-pound Richmond preceded Lewis in a commitment to Ole Miss in September, though he’s entertained overtures from a number of top-ranked programs from across the country ever since, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State and others.


Richmond committed to Ole Miss in September.

The Crimson Tide, per sources, is currently the biggest threat for a potential Richmond turn. Still, it should be noted, Richmond, who hails from nearby Memphis, Tenn., has remained committed to the Rebels for months. Ole Miss is sitting firmly in the driver’s seat by a fairly comfortable margin, unnerving as the final days of the 2015 recruiting calendar might be.

3. Four-star DB Armani Linton

Analysis: Deep breaths, Ole Miss fans. Linton isn’t going anywhere. Really, Lewis and Richmond stand as the only real (however remote) de-commitment possibilities. But Scout.com required three prospects for story purposes, so Linton makes the list. He entertained Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and company for an in-home visit Wednesday, which would normally make headlines this late in the game considering Linton was once a Bulldog commitment. However, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Linton, who gave his pledge to Ole Miss in June, said he was “100 percent Rebel” in a text message to the Ole Miss Spirit following Mullen’s stay.


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