You hate to call any one player a "must have" for a recruiting class but Cam Akers is one for Ole Miss. Lets not kid ourselves. Cam Akers is arguably the top back in the country and he's out of Mississippi. The Rebels will bring back one of the elite offenses in the country next season. All they are missing is a "Cam Akers". You add Cam to their offense and it looks darn right unstoppable. The national media isn't giving Ole Miss much of a chance, but the locals inside Mississippi know the Rebels are major contender. Ohio State has been trending. Alabama, where he was once committed, is right in the thick of the race, as well as LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Most insiders in Mississippi believe he will stay close to home. That puts Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU as the schools to continue to monitor with Ohio State as the most likely option if he were to leave home.
Isaiah Buggs has been a priority for Ole Miss since he arrived at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC after prepping at Ruston, LA. The 6-foot-5, 290-pounder is the most sought after defensive lineman in the juco ranks. His top four consists of two schools that he will watch play Saturday between Ole Miss and Alabama. Auburn and LSU round out the list. Many believe that LSU is in the lead due to him being from the Bayou state. He's visited Auburn a couple times recently and has yet to visit the Oxford campus. The relationship with the Ole Miss coaches must be strong to keep them in the top four without ever visiting. The Rebels hope this weekend could make them an even bigger contender.
One might ask why a commitment makes the list of top storylines to watch? Well, like Cam Akers, Willie Gay comes at a critical position for the Rebels and he's Mississippi's best at a position the Rebels have basically struck out on in the past three recruiting classes. To say Ole Miss is in desperate mode to bring in some big time linebackers is an understatement. Mix that in with the fact that Willie lives in Starkville were the name Ole Miss is literally a curse word around that community, and Gay becomes a focal point through signing day. Willie announced he will take all of his official visits. He's missed the last two expected visits to Oxford so getting him back in town quickly is important.
Some consider the Jackson, Tenn., product to the top defensive tackle in the class of 2017. Ole Miss made Greg one of their focal points for the 2018 class when he was a sophomore in high school. He recently named Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee as his early leaders with Ole Miss in his top eight. The Rebels have some ground to make up. This weekend will be a good starting point to make that jump into his top list of suitors.
The Rebels have been waiting for the right spot to get the National 150 recruit on campus and why not bring him in for arguably the biggest home game for the Rebels this season? Chuck was going to visit Ole Miss this summer but the Rebels wanted to bring him in for a game. The 6-foot-6, 335-pound offensive tackle moved to Aledo (Texas) from California this summer and that has thrown his recruitment on to the back burner to an extent. Southern Cal is the biggest target from back home with Texas making a strong late push after moving to the Lone Star. Arkansas, Ole Miss, Michigan, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Oklahoma round out his top schools.
Top 150 national recruit LaBryan Ray returns to Oxford after spending time there this past spring for a junior day. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive lineman is ranked a 5-Star by some recruiting services and remains a major target for the Rebels 2017 class. Ray has a top five that consists of Ole Miss, Alabama, Florida, Auburn, and Tennessee. Some believe the Rebels and the Tide have the inside track. Could this weekend's game swing him one way over the other?
In what may be one of the more frustrating recruitments for the Rebels this year belongs to top 100 national recruit Nico Collins. Hugh Freeze recruited and coached his older brother at Lambuth. The inroads have been in place. All except that Nico doesn't look to have as much interest in the Rebels as Ole Miss does in Nico. He was slatted to visit Oxford on several trips in the past and has been a no show for each trip. Michigan and Alabama are his leaders. A starting point for the Rebels would just to get him on campus.
5-Star WR DeVonta Smith had his home state Tigers at the top of his list but announced this week they have fallen out of his top group. That has opened the door for a number of schools including Ole Miss. The Rebels have not hosted him on their campus. This weekend will be a starting point. TCU, Tennessee, Miami and Alabama round out his top group of schools. Will Ole Miss make any headway after this weekend?
Ole Miss has been on Monty Rice from day one. The Alabama resident was a regular on the Ole Miss campus until late spring. He hasn't returned since which has caused some concern. Getting him back on campus sooner than later is vital. The instate schools, Alabama and Auburn, remain very much in the mix. LSU, Georgia, Florida, and Florida State round out his top six. Ole Miss has ground to make up.
Yancy Porter is the recruiting analyst for the Ole Miss Spirit and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org