National Signing Day 2012: Freeze Introduces First Recruiting Class at Ole Miss
Hugh Freeze basically had a three-week period to patch together his first recruiting class as head coach at Ole Miss.
Expectations weren't set high for Freeze on national signing day, which may have resulted in a few surprises. The Rebels landed a 4-star recruit in safety Trae Elston, an Under Armour All-American from Oxford, Alabama. Elston chose the Rebels over LSU and Oklahoma State.
Freeze also reeled in a pair of ESPNU 150 prospects, both from Mississippi, signing defensive tackle Issac Gross (Batesville, MS) and defensive end Channing Ward (Aberdeen, MS). Freeze expects the duo to contribute immediately, saying:
In this conference, to win, you've got to be good on the defensive line. You've got to feel like those guys are going to push people for playing time.
The Rebels also added a JUCO QB to the roster as well, signing Bo Wallace of East Mississippi Community College. Wallace is one of four players who enrolled early to participate in spring practice. Wallace is expected to immediately compete for the starting QB position with returning seniors Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt.
The possible breakout player for Freeze's first class could possibly be running back I'Tavius Mathers of Murfreesboro, Tenn. The 3-star running back rushed for more than 4,800 yards and 56 touchdowns the last two seasons at Blackman High School. Mathers chose Ole Miss over Michigan, Kentucky and Notre Dame.
It was an undeniably tough recruiting atmosphere for Freeze. Not only did he have a small window of time to put together a signing class, he had to do it with the backdrop of an awful 2-10 season and a 14-game losing streak in the Southeastern Conference. Coach Houston Nutt was fired late in the season, and Freeze was charged with rebuilding the program.
As expected, none of the major recruiting services rated the Rebels' class particularly high, with the program ranking at or near the bottom of the SEC.
Though it was a small recruiting class, Freeze has to be pleased with the talent that was signed. Expectations won't be set high for the Rebels in 2012, but Freeze can definitely recruit. Signing 17 players in a small time period is positive. It'll be interesting to watch what he will be able to do with a full year under his belt in Oxford.
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