Early Arrival?

Four-star running back Denzel Mitchell already had his mind made up when he visited Ole Miss unofficially for its meeting with then-No. 1 Alabama last October.

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“I was going to commit that night, win or lose,” he said.

Ole Miss ultimately won, giving the Rebels their first 5-0 start since 1962. The Rebels snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide, and fans rushed the field in celebration. Not one but two goal posts came down.

The Rebels had arrived on the national stage. Mitchell’s commitment later that night was icing on the proverbial cake.

“When they played Alabama, I liked how (Ole Miss running backs) coach (Derrick) Nix used the running backs in that type of offense,” he said. “It’s home from home. It’s like an hour and 15 minutes from where I’m at in Hamilton, Alabama.”

Four months later, his commitment is stronger than ever. Now the 5-foot-11, 211-pound Mitchell, one of eight Rebel pledges for the recruiting class of 2016, is embracing the role of recruiter.

“I’m trying to,” he said. “I don’t want the kids to just come here because I want them to; football isn’t going to be there all your life. But I’m trying.

Mitchell is rated a four-star prospect and the No. 15 RB in the country by Scout.com.

“I was trying to talk to (five-star 2015 prospect) CeCe (Jefferson), too, to get him down here. I’m just going to talk to the guys who haven’t committed. My friend (three-star tight end) John Tate from Arkansas, I’m trying to get him to commit. It’s just whenever.”

Mitchell made the trip to Ole Miss for its elite junior day Jan. 31. He had his recruiting hat on, and for good reason. North of 20 top-ranked targets were in attendance, including five-star quarterback Shea Patterson, the No. 1 overall quarterback in the country.

“I’m going to try to talk to him, get him to come on down here,” Mitchell said. “We could have a good combination with him.”

Mitchell is rated the No. 15 running back in the country by Scout.com. He rushed for 1,718 yards and 21 touchdowns in leading Hamilton High School to a 7-4 record as a junior.

His offers include Ole Miss, Arkansas and Tennessee. Other schools have maintained interest as well, including Alabama and Auburn.

“I know I had this one dude from Alabama come down (recently) and Auburn came in,” Mitchell said. “But I’m strong with my commit.

“I’ve already talked to the (Ole Miss) coaches and everything. I’m going to try and take a class and try to graduate early next year so I can come on up here and learn all the plays and everything.”

Ole Miss will graduate its leading rusher, Jaylen Walton, after next season. Mitchell, who boasts a 4.53 40-yard dash, sees an opportunity for carries as a true freshman.

Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze has even said as much.

“He told me that a couple left and he’s got Walton and (Jordan) Wilkins back there and he’s getting another (Eric Swinney) this year,” he said. It looks good for me getting touches next year.”

That is, as long as his commitment holds. Can he foresee a scenario where he doesn’t end up at Ole Miss?

“No, sir,” he closed.

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