Orgeron has taken OM to unchartered waters

Wait a second, the Rebels have more football commitments than the rest of the SEC, combined? How? Read about it inside.

Ed Orgeron was named the 2004 National Recruiter of the Year by Sporting News. Many of us did not really know what to think about this award. At the time, many of us didn't know who Ed Orgeron was.

I mean, let's get serious, how hard is it to recruit to USC? Isn't that what you were thinking when you heard about this award? That is certainly the perception in these parts.

But now we are beginning to see why he was awarded that honor.

It all started when Coach Orgeron was hired at Ole Miss. He took over a 4-7 team that was in limbo. There was no more "Eli Manning" to recruit off of Ole Miss. The Cotton Bowl seemed like a distant memory.

The Rebels had seven commitments when Coach O arrived on campus with a month to go in 2005 recruiting. They were sitting 83rd nationally in the so called "recruiting rankings". Then bam, the new recruiting era began to take shape. Coach O broke into the national scene when he garner commitments from two of the nation's best in Michael Oher and Jerrell Powe. The final tally saw the Rebels place 29th nationally in the recruiting rankings. And folks, this was a "patch" job at best, but this class was still ranked the highest by since the '02 class saw them place 26th.

Last year the Rebels really began to turn some heads when they finished 15th nationally in the recruiting rankings and signed 10 players that were 4 Star prospects or better. To put this in perspective, if you took the previous three classes combined, the previous staff had only signed a total of six 4 or 5 Star prospects.

We all began to see why Coach Orgeron was named the National Recruiter of the Year by Sporting News.

And then the recognition started getting more wide-spread.

Here are some quotes from various recruiting experts about the '06 Class.

The Sporting news had the following to say,

"Ed Orgeron could sell a raincoat to a duck. He could sell a flashlight to a firefly. He could sell lifts to Shaquille O'Neal. Heck, he could even sell a treadmill to Mark Mangino. You get the point.

Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron has a career in sales if he ever decides to leave college football. It's one thing to recruit top players to Southern Cal when you're winning game after game and your home base is sunny L.A. Despite this, we named Orgeron the Recruiter of the Year two years ago for selling recruits on the Trojans when surely some coach from the MAC or Mountain West likely had a bit tougher time luring players, but we saw something in Orgeron. Some call it intensity while others call it insanity, but whatever it is, it worked.

But how would Orgeron do when he took the head coaching job at Ole Miss? Sure, he was born in SEC country and had recruited effectively in the Southeast at Miami, but this is different. This is Oxford, Miss., and a team that, aside from the Eli Manning years, has struggled to compete consistently in the SEC. This is a program that has to recruit against the likes of LSU, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn each and every year without the same national recognition or tradition. If Ed Orgeron was a car salesman, he'd be selling Saturns while his fellow salesmen were pushing Cadillacs."

Todd Harmonson of The Orange County Register (CA) had the following to say,

"Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron solidified his reputation as one of elite recruiters in the nation when he was a USC assistant, but his philosophy and the Trojans' aren't exact replicas. Orgeron and Carroll, who relies heavily on recruiting coordinator Lane Kiffin, both think their advantage comes in their evaluation."

"The evaluation process and being able to recognize talent on film is key," Orgeron said.

But part of his focus is on finding a prospect others might ignore, a player who has something special that can't be taught but needs a lot of work. At USC, defensive linemen Kenechi Udeze and Mike Patterson were his gems. When he was at Miami, Cortez Kennedy caught his attention.

"I think every class has to have a guy like that," Orgeron said. "You have to be able to find a diamond in the rough."

Sports Illustrated ranked Ole Miss' '06 class 15 nationally and ranked Coach Orgeron as one of the Top 10 recruiters in the country.

"Ole Miss in the top 15? Believe it. Coach Ed Orgeron is the Recruiter of the Year after putting together the Rebels' top class in a very long time, despite coming off of a 3-8 season."

CBS ranked Ole Miss' '06 class, 9th nationally, and also labeled Coach Orgeron as one of the Top 10 recruiters in the country. Here is what they had to say,

"Mississippi's head coach was a recruiting savant while at USC, where Carroll turned him loose on all of the Trojans' big-time recruits. Orgeron's expertise didn't show up last year because he got a late start in his first season. With this class, Mississippi has announced it is a future SEC contender."

Tom Lemming of USA Today,

"Ole Miss had a great year because of Ed Orgeron. His power of persuasion, aggressive approach and optimistic vision of Ole Miss all help lure some of the big prospects of the south."

The '06 class proved that Coach Orgeron was one of the top recruiters in the country, regardless of which school he was recruiting for.

Where does this leave Ole Miss for the '07 class? has come out with its Top 100 prospects in the country.

Here is a list of the SEC schools and how many of the Top 100 prospects are looking at their school (favorites come off of the scout network)

- 28 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Vols as one of their favorites.

Florida - 27 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Gators as one of their favorites.

Ole Miss - 26 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Rebels as one of their favorites.

- 17 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Dawgs as one of their favorites.

Alabama - 13 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Tide as one of their favorites.

- 11 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Bengals as one of their favorites.

Auburn - 10 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Tigers as one of their favorites.

South Carolina - 8 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Cocks as one of their favorites.

MSU - 5 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Dogs as one of their favorites.

Arkansas - 4 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Hawgs as one of their favorites.

Kentucky - 1 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Wildcats as one of their favorites.

Vandy - 0 National Top 100 prospects have listed the Dores as one of their favorites.

Ole Miss is now 3rd in the SEC in having the top prospects look their way. Last year, they finished 5th in the SEC. The year before, they finished 8th in the SEC.

See the trend here?

Let's take it a step further.

Ole Miss ranks 6th nationally in the number of Top 100 recruits who list the Rebels as one of their favorites.

OK, this must be a Mississippi thing. There must be a large number of Mississippians on this list. Right? Wrong.

Only two Mississippians made the National 100 list.

The 26 national top 100 prospects come from 12 different states. They come from as far away as Pennsylvania, California, NC, ILL, NY, NJ, and Va. States that Ole Miss is not known to make much of a presence, pre-Coach O days.

What about commitments. Where does Ole Miss stand?

Good question, the Rebels currently stand at 12 commitments. If you added up the current commitment list for the rest of the SEC schools, it equals 11.

If this current trend continues, look for Ole Miss to stay in the "national recruiting scene" as long as Coach Orgeron is at the helm.

Coaches like to say recruiting is the lifeblood of a program. Coach O not only believes that, he lives it.

How does he get it done in such convincing, far-reaching fashion?

First, he's passionate and relentless about recruiting. It's on his mind when he wakes up early in the morning and on his mind when he goes to bed in the wee hours of the night.

Second, his organizational skills take a back seat to nobody in the business. Every minute detail of recruiting is covered.

Third, he instills in his coaching staff the same passion for recruiting that he has. After all, there is strength in numbers.

Four, his early-to-evaluate, early-to-offer, early-to-develop-relationships philosophy keeps Ole Miss' name on the front burner with prospects.

Five, he's not bashful about presenting and selling his product - Ole Miss - against anyone in the nation. No prospect in the country has a "we can't get him" tag, as has been the case a little bit in the past. He does this by truly believing in his product and projecting that to potential recruits.

Six, recruiting is hard work. Coach O isn't afraid of rolling his sleeves up.

The bottom line is results. Look for that trend to continue. 2007 is already shaping up to being better than 2006.

You can lay all of that at the feet of one Ed Orgeron.

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