Tight End: C+
The Rebels headed into the recruiting season with a depleted tight end core as Robert Lane and Robert Hough graduated. They were left with a converted offensive tackle (Sr David Traxler) and a player who played nose guard (So Cecil Frison) as a freshman as their lone returnees.
To say that the tight end position was in dire need of an influx of talent and depth is an understatement.
We give Ole Miss a C+, not because we were not impressed with who they signed, but rather by the numbers. It was a goal of theirs to sign at least three tight ends, preferably four, and they inked two unless they convert Ferbia Allen to tight end.
But that is where it gets tricky, E.J. Epperson looks mighty good on film at defensive end, so what if he ends up at end? You are left with one tight end in juco transfer Gerald Harris.
They could end up putting both E.J. and Ferbia at tight end out of necessity, due to the lack of numbers. We shall see. Going by the position they were recruited to play, we will leave Epperson at tight end and Allen at defensive end when going over our analysis with each position.
**E.J. Epperson was one of the more athletic and explosive tight ends prospects we saw on film this year. He was a huge get over Arkansas as the Rebels were able to get him to decommit from the Hawgs and ink with the University of Mississippi.
The one thing you notice when you watch Epperson on film is that he has separation speed for a tight end and uses his hands like a wide receiver. He never catches it with his body. Once Epperson adds some weight to his frame (6' 4", 230), he has "stardom" written all over his forehead.
**Ole Miss badly needed to get someone in with experience and preferable a recruit who could contribute in Spring drills. Check mark for that aspect as Gerald Harris is a juco transfer that is already enrolled.
Gerald is going to give Ole Miss a big tight end (6' 5", 250) who is very physical at the line of scrimmage but also has great hands, according to Ole Miss' very own, Jevan Snead.
From early word in the Rebel camp, Harris looks to be everything they were hoping for.
**When you break it down, the Rebels signed two quality tight ends. One that can give you immediate help in Gerald Harris and one that you can build for in the future in E.J. Epperson.
If it were not for the fact that Ole Miss needed to ink more than two TE's, this grade would have been much higher.
We would give it a solid B+ on quality but an overall C+ due to numbers.
Epperson (TE, Humboldt, TN) - Earned 2A All-State honors
from the Tennessee Football Coaches Association and the Tennessee Sports
Writers Association as a senior ... A finalist for the 2007 Tennessee
Mr. Football Award ... Rated the No. 25 player in Tennessee and the No. 57 TE
in the nation by Scout.com ... Rushed for 130 yards and one touchdown,
and caught 17 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns as a senior ... On defense
posted 55 tackles and returned two INTs for TDs ... Participated in the East vs.
West Tennessee High School All-Star Football Classic ... Named All-Region
8-2A as a senior ... Earned 2007 All-West Tennessee honors from the Jackson
Sun ... As a junior recorded 24 catches for 613 yards and five TDs ... Credited
with 53 tackles and eight sacks on defense ... Also plays basketball where he
earned All-State honors from the Tennessee Sports Writers Association as
a junior ... Coached in high school by Carey Craig.
Houston Nutt Quote:
excited about him. E.J. Epperson is from right up the road in Tennessee. He is
very athletic. Every time I think of E.J., I think of going through storms on
a plane and Chyna was scared to death because the wind was making the plane go
everywhere. He is like that. When you watch him play basketball, he is everywhere,
looking inside the rim. He is just so athletic and Im glad he is on our
Harris(TE , Navarro CC, TX) - JUNIOR COLLEGE: A 2007 1st Team Academic
All-America selection by JC Grid-Wire at Navarro College in Corsicana,
Texas ... Played in six games for the Bulldogs in 2007 ... Primarily a blocking
tight end, he caught five passes for 36 yards and one TD ... Rated the No. 78
JUCO player in the nation by SuperPrep ... Earned honorable mention All-Southwest
Conference honors ... Helped lead team to a 9-3 record in 2007 and a fourth-place
finish in the national junior college poll ... Coached at Navarro by head coach
Ray Woodard and offensive coordinator Nick Bobeck ... Rated a three-star prospect
by Scout.com ... HIGH SCHOOL: Earned two letters in baseball and football
at Terrell High School ... Coached in football by Todd York ... Played offensive
tackle and defensive end during his season senior and earned honorable mention
All-District honors ... PERSONAL: Son of Charlie Harris and Jamie Running
.... Full name is Gerald Louis Harris ... Born: April 16, 1988.
Houston Nutt Quote
Recruiting is not easy. Its hard work. The thing that we really wanted to address first was we really wanted to get some tight ends in our system. I really felt that a young man by the name of Gerald Harris will help us. We got him in early. He is in the program right now, going to school. If you see him walking, you say that is what an SEC tight end looks like. He is 6-7, probably a little shy of 250 pounds. And coach (Don) Decker has already got him going. He has already gained about eight pounds since hes been here. Things like that excite you.
The ones who got away:
The Rebels committed Memphis' Jamal Mosley early in the recruiting process but the change of staffs, specifically Hugh Freeze, was just too much to overcome for Ole Miss as Jamal ended up inking with Oklahoma State in the 11th hour.
An academic casualty reared its ugly head again when the Rebels had to let go Dudley LaPorte, who has NFL skills. The loss of Dudley could be big as the Rebels badly needed someone with his skills and experience on next year's team.