Four-star defensive back C.J. Avery has had a lot of contact with Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze recently

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Ole Miss is 10 days into its search for a new defensive coordinator to replace now-retired Dave Wommack.

Hugh Freeze might soon name Wommack’s successor, if what the Rebel head coach is telling four-star defensive back C.J. Avery is to be believed.

Avery, who reported today for the Alabama - Mississippi All-Star Game, is set choose from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Louisville and Auburn Dec. 14. The Rebels have a bit of momentum currently. Freeze called Avery before he left for the game Monday morning, and Avery said he’s planning to visit campus this weekend.

But arguably atop his list of concerns regarding Ole Miss is who the next defensive coordinator will be. Freeze has all but cleared that hurdle, however.

“Me and coach Freeze, we talked about it a little bit,” he said. “He’ll eventually have an answer for the public soon. He told me, he just doesn’t want me to mention it right now.”

C.J. Avery (Photo by Chad Simmons)

Avery said he could, theoretically, commit to Ole Miss without knowing, officially, its Wommack replacement. But it would certainly make things more difficult.

“I could, but at the same time it would be hard to do because you don’t know what type of defensive scheme that person would come in and have,” he said. “It’ll be a hard decision.”

Regardless, Ole Miss is making a push.

Freeze has ramped up his recruitment of Avery lately, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Grenada product. The 6-foot-1, 196-pound Avery, ranked the No. 227 prospect overall and the No. 22 safety in the country by Scout.com, said Freeze has pitched the opportunity for Avery to help turn around a Rebel defense that struggled mightily in 2016.

“He just wants his defense to get better,” Avery said. “He feels like I could be a vital part of that. I think I’d fit well at Ole Miss. There’s some great people at Ole Miss and it’s a young defense, so the people that would be around me, they’d be experienced at playing early.”

Auburn and Louisville have longed been considered his front-runners. Avery admitted, though, it wouldn’t take much for Ole Miss or Mississippi State to leapfrog the Tigers and Cardinals for his signature.

Chad Simmons

“I don’t think it’ll be that hard, man, because it is my home state,” Avery said. “I just feel like if they’re talking to me right and I see myself in that program then, yeah, they can make a move.

“They’ve been talking to me a lot. Coach Freeze, he called me before I came up here. We talked. (Mississippi State head) Coach (Dan) Mullen, I just came off an official visit at Mississippi State. I’ve been talking really good with the coaches.”

Avery said he doesn’t have a “true, true leader right now.” There are positives for all of his finalists. For example, Auburn defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff is a favorite of Avery’s, which helps explain the Tigers’ position in landing him.

“Just coach McGriff, man, the DB coach,” Avery said. “He coached my dad. It’s some of the best fans in the nation there, and the program is doing really good right now,” Avery said. “Louisville, they develop their players really well and getting a lot of people in the NFL. They have numbers to speak for that.”

In the end, Avery is looking for the school that best helps him reach the NFL.

“I think just the school that develops me the best and gets me to the next level,” he said. “That’s my main goal, to get to the next level. That’s what I’m trying to do.”


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