Oxford, Miss. (TLV)—It is well-documented that in order to compete against college football’s best, you have to recruit the best.
That’s why National Signing Day 2013 can be viewed, in many ways, as a turning point for the Ole Miss football program. Hugh Freeze accumulated one of the best recruiting classes in the country that year, snagging the nation’s top-rated receiver (Laquon Treadwell), offensive tackle (Laremy Tunsil), and defensive lineman (Robert Nkemdiche). This heralded trio laid waste to SEC competition during their three-year stint in the Red and Blue and helped turn Ole Miss into a contender.
Turns out, it was no fluke.
On Wednesday morning, some of the best high school football talent in the country faxed in letters of intent to play for the Rebels. The 2016 signing class is ranked in the top ten by every major recruiting service and is littered with 4-and-5-star talent looking to make an immediate impact on the field.
Highlighting the class are three 5-star studs that will immediately compete for starting time. Shreveport, LA’s Shea Patterson, widely thought of as the nation’s top quarterback, stayed firm in his commitment to Hugh Freeze’s Rebs and will likely back up gunslinger Chad Kelly for one year before taking the reins of the offense. Joining him on that side of the ball is the nation’s top offensive tackle prospect, the deceptively-named Greg Little from Allen, TX. Little will look to shore up an offensive line that is losing Laremy Tunsil, who is widely expected to go in the top five of the NFL draft this year.
On defense, the Rebs were able to secure a commitment from defensive tackle Benito Jones of Wayne County, MS. Jones was originally committed to Alabama, but has since changed his tune and will be looking to replace Nkemdiche’s role on a disruptive and athletic defensive line.
In what has become a trend of late, Ole Miss was also able to bring in some top-shelf talent at wide receiver. Two of Mississippi’s best, Starkville’s A.J. Brown and Oxford’s own D.K. Metcalf, will be joined by Florida 7A all-star Tre Nixon on campus. The recent influx of talent at wideout will hopefully compensate for Laquon Treadwell’s departure to the NFL.
In addition, Ole Miss added two 4-star tight ends, Gabe Angel and Octavious Cooley, to take over Evan Engram’s dynamic offensive role in the coming years. 4-star running back D’Vaughn Pennamon chose the Rebs over Alabama, and will look to be the feature back that has thus far eluded Hugh Freeze in his tenure.
Ole Miss did miss out on a couple of key players, namely 5-star LB Mique Juarez and 5-star DE Jeffrey Simmons (who committed to Mississippi State over Ole Miss and Alabama).
Overall, the class features twenty-four commitments with an average rating of 3.58 stars (according to rivals.com). It seems that everybody wants to play for the Rebels these days, a request Hugh Freeze and co. are happy to accommodate.