JUCO All-American defensive lineman will enroll in January

Markel Winters out of Jones CC had a lot of fans on their edge of their seat when he signed his letter of intent at 1:00 p.m. The race came down to the two instate SEC programs in Ole Miss and MSU but the Rebels were able to come out victorious in the end.

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The message boards have been running ramp the last 24 hours about where Markel Winters would end up but the decision had already been made well beforehand.

"I already told Ole Miss I was signing with them last weekend," Winters said. "I signed my papers at 7:30 a.m. this morning."

The Rebels were obviously happy about the decision.

"(Ole Miss head) Coach (Hugh) Freeze and (defensive line) coach (Chris) Kiffin were really happy when they got my papers in this morning. They told me to sign them at 7:30 a.m. I sent the papers into them right at 7:30 this morning like they asked me to do. They were just really happy to have me as a part of their family. They think I can give them the ability to get more pressure on the quarterback next season."

Getting to the quarterback is exactly what Winters did last season. He led the MACJC league with 16.5 sacks and five tackles for loss this season. He was named first team All-MACJC and All-Region 23 along with NJCAA All-American honors.

"They like my high motor for a guy my size. They feel like I have the ability to make tackles in space. I have a lot of experience coming from the junior college ranks. They believe me and Marquis Haynes will be the best defensive end tandem in college football next fall."

Haynes, an All-SEC performer, made his decision Wednesday morning to return for his senior season at Ole Miss.

"I knew he was coming back. We talked about it on my visit. He was my host. We talked all weekend about our role on the team next fall. We are going to be able to bring pressure on both ends. We have a lot of great players coming back on the defensive line next fall. You have guys like Josiah Coatney, Qaadir Sheppard and Charles Wiley who haven't even played yet along with guys like Benito Jones, Breeland Speaks, Victor Evans, Gerrald McDowell and Marquis Haynes, We got a bunch of ballers coming back next fall. We feel like we're going to have one of the best defensive lines in the country next fall."

The decision came down to more than just the defensive line.

"Ole Miss is where I've always felt the most comfortable. It just feels like home away from home in Oxford. I've always had Ole Miss in my heart. It really was a pretty easy decision for me and my family. My family loves it up there, too. They know I'm in good hands."

This spring will be vital for Winters' chances to make an impact this season.

"I'll report Jan. 3 and hit the weights hard. I'm going to develop my body and get in better shape. I want to get stronger, faster and multiply what I did this year."

Yancy Porter is the recruiting analyst for the Ole Miss Spirit and he can be reached at yporter@scout.com

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