Timing is everything

It is interesting looking at the different mindsets of the fans between the three state universities.

If you looked in the eyes of most Rebel fans on Wednesday, you would see someone who looked like they just lost their best friend. Ninety miles Southeast of Oxford in a town called Starkville, you would see most fans from MSU celebrating like they had won the ever-elusive Sugar Bowl title. As you travel another 100 or so miles Southwest to the "Hub" city, Eagle fans would look like they always do on signing day. You know, that look like, "well, we might be near the bottom of the recruiting rankings, but we are there every year and look at what we keep doing. And Rick Cleveland keeps telling us about how nobody wanted Brett Farve, Reggie Collier.etc..so why can't QB Darin Farris be next in line?"

It is funny how the attitudes from the fans of the three colleges are polar opposites.

Let's look at it a step closer, Ole Miss finishes #26 (Rivals) and #32 (Scout) in the two major recruiting polls and MSU finishes #41 (Rivals) and #27 (Scout). USM finished in the 60's in both Scout and Rivals.

You take the average of the two major services and Ole Miss finished #29, while MSU finished #34.

But again, the Rebel nation is still mourning after they failed to ink Joe McKnight (USC), Kevin Bryant (N.C.), Maurice Harris (FSU), Johnathan Frink (Stanford), Rashad Mason (NC), Jerry Franklin (Arkansas), while also losing RB Robert Elliott and DT LaMarcus Williams to their bitter rivals in the last week of the recruiting season.

That is a hard pill to swallow for Rebel fans, but let's think about this.

What if these players committed to Ole Miss in the last week, instead of months before signing day?

Ole Miss receives commitments from Texas transfer Jevan Snead, Mississippi's top prospect Chris Strong, Scout.com #1 juco player A.J. Jackson, Louisiana's top offensive lineman in Rishaw Johnson, the top WR in the Bayou state in Lionel Breaux, #36 nationally ranked juco player in Ashlee Palmer, the top defensive tackle in the state of Georgia commits (Ted Laurent), and the Clarion Ledger's #6 Most Wanted Prospect, Jamariey Atterberry, decommits from MSU and announces for Ole Miss on signing day.

The Rebel fans would be jumping for joy. MSU fans would be in a funk on the heels of losing Atterberry to their bitter rival on the 12th hour. And USM, well, they could care less, for the most part, because ole Rick Cleveland just wrote his 26th straight signing day analysis where he keeps reminding everybody that rankings are useless.

Oh, but that word "closing strong" always keeps coming up. On the message boards, it reads, "close strong" every day until their names appear on the dotted line.

But what is really more important? Closing strong, starting off fast, or having a fast middle to the recruiting season?

To me, they are all equally important. This is not a ball game where you keep score in each quarter but the only score that matter is the ending score. You gain players in "each quarter".

Is Chris Strong any less of a player because he committed over a year ago? Will that mean we can expect less from any of these signees because they were not committed at the last hour of the recruiting season?

Why no, but like I posted on Wednesday, people are always looking for new "toys". It is like that brand new shiny car. You drive it home, and you are so happy. The first few weeks, you take it through the car wash daily, drive through the gas station and make sure the inside is vacuumed, so you can keep it looking all "pretty". But then that newness wears off, and before you know it, a few months have passed since the last time it has been washed.

The same thing goes with recruiting. The Chris Strongs are real fun and exciting for a while, but then the fans want a new "Chris Strong".

Did losing McKnight, Elliott, Williams..etc.. hurt the '07 recruiting class?

There is no question it did, but did the Rebels fast start and middle of the recruiting season help just as much? You bet it did.

The object to recruiting is improving your team. And there is no doubt that Ole Miss has helped itself at defensive tackle with the soon to be signature of Jerrell Powe and signees Ted Laurent, Lawon Scott, Justin Sanders, and maybe even a Chris Strong ends up there if he keeps growing at his current pace. Think about those players for a minute. Let that sink in. Pretty high cotton if you ask me.

The linebacker corp will receive immediate help from Top 50 juco prospect, Tony Fein and Washington State reverse transfer, Lamar Brumfield. The future will look bright at linebacker with the additions of Scottie Williams, LaDerrick Vaughn, and Isaiah Smith.

Safety, which was also in dire need to be upgraded before the recruiting season started, will have an immediate impact player in Ashlee Palmer, who will also have the luxury of going through Spring practice before Fall camp starts. Then you look at players like Jamison Hughes, Fonterrian Ingram, who Orgeron is already comparing to Jamarca Sanford, and Colby Arceneaux.

The Rebels were able to land the top CB in the state of Mississippi in Jamariey Atterberry, and they have Johnny Brown there if needed.

On defense, when was the last time the Rebels signed players of the caliber of Jerrell Powe, Ted Laurent, Chris Strong, Tony Fein, Scottie Williams, Ashlee Palmer, Fonterrian Ingram, Jamariey Atteberry, Johnny Brown, et al? There have been individual players signed of this caliber, but not a group as a whole, at least not in a long/long time.

On offense, the Rebels solidified their future with a "franchise" QB in Jevan Snead. Folks, the Rebels have signed two QB's in the last 25 years who were as highly regarded as Jevan coming out of high school in Eli Manning and Chris Osgood. Unfortunately for Ole Miss, the Rebels did not know that Chris only had one good eye because of a fishing accident. And Eli, well, we all know the rest of that story.

It does not matter which level you watch in football, if you do not have a stud at QB, you have to be superior at almost every other position to win championships. And right now, the Rebels are not superior at every other position, so realistically, they are going to need that bigtime QB to get them to where they need to get.

Needless to say, getting Jevan on campus with 4 1/2 to play 3 was HUGE for the Ole Miss program.

You might say, well, Snead needs some targets to throw to.

Can you find a better WR trio than A.J. Jackson, Lionel Breaux, and Roderick Davis? You need a burner, welcome Lionel Breaux, who finished 4th nationally in the 400 meter race. You need that tall possission receiver to go up and get the ball, say hello to A.J. Jackson. And how about somebody who has speed and the body strength to fight off the defenders, look no further than Roderick Davis.

Another future target will be TE David Rue, who stands at 6' 5", 260. Rue has the size and athleticism to become a bigtime player on the SEC level. Let's be honest with ourselves, who besides Lawrence Lilly (who rarely lived up to his billings for some reason) have the Rebels signed at TE with the combo that David has since the good ole days when Ole Miss was called TE U with the likes of Rufus French, Wesley Walls, and Chris Mangum?

Not many, if any.

At running back, there is no question the Rebels were wiped out with the defection of Robert Elliott and the last minute commitment to Southern Cal of Joe McKnight. But that guy named Johnny Brown, who was #5 on the Most Wanted List, is still around if needed.

And isn't RB where Ole Miss could probably most afford taking a hit? Do people forget the name of Cordera Eason, who was more highly regarded than Elliott coming out of high school last year? Remember him, the 2005 Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Mississippi? Remember Mico McSwain, who could have rushed for a 1,000 yards as a freshman if it were not for a season ending injury and he was still running behind a patched up offensive line (that is saying it nicely)? How about Derrick Davis? Remember that guy that started in front of Cordera as a junior and rushed for over 2,000 yards before hurting his knee and having to sit out his senior season? He took a redshirt his freshman season at Ole Miss to make sure the knee was completely healthy before going through the SEC rigors. All of these RB's we pointed out are there for the future, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bruce Hall certainly will provide plenty of talent at RB for next year's team.

You are always looking for immediate help and future help for the men in the trenches and the Rebels got both. Mark Jean-Louis is looking to fill the vacated left guard position, as he will have spring practice to go through and will have 3 to play 3, which is almost as good as a true freshman. Rishaw Johnson looked as good or better than any lineman I saw at the All-American All-Star game. This kid has all the tools you are looking for and has "big time" written all over his forehead. Alex Washington is a player that the Ole Miss staff was drooling to get as soon as he left their football camp. Hey, aren't they the ones who the Rebels pay to make the decisions? And Bradley Sowell is a guy that only stands 6' 8 3/4", 338 and is mean as a snake on the field. Upside is unlimited with this kid.

Again, a recruiting class is about improving the talent on your team, and I can honestly say that Ole Miss did just that with the '07 class.

Could it have been better if McKnight, Elliott, Bryant, Mason, Williams, Harris, and Frink would have been added to this group? Certainly, but any team in the country could sit here and point out the ones they missed on and said it would have been better if they would have signed them.

The bottom line is that the ending to this class was a big disappointment, but when you get past that and take your emotions out of the equation, you will realize the Rebels helped themselves this past Wednesday.

Of course, all of this hinges on the key players passing their needed classes and ACT/SAT test, but that is the same story for every class throughout the country.

Now go get that 6 month old BMW out of garage and give it a good ole wax. I bet she looks almost as pretty as she did when you bought her, and she certainly will run just as good.

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