Ole Miss Football Signing Day 2012: Breaking Down the Newest Class of Rebels
When Hugh Freeze took over the Ole Miss Rebels on Dec. 5, time wasn't necessarily on his side in terms of shaping his first recruiting class.
With the shortage of scholarships available, Freeze had to be really selective with the players he sought. By the end of signing day, Freeze welcomed 13 high schoolers and four junior college transfers to Oxford.
The biggest surprise of this small class came with the Rebels' last signature: safety Trae Elston from Oxford, Ala. Elston, 6'0" and 183 pounds, announced his decision on ESPNU, choosing Ole Miss over LSU and Oklahoma State.
Elston participated in the Under Armour All-American game and was rated the No. 10 safety in the country by ESPN.com and No. 28 by Rivals.com. He earned first team All-State honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association as a junior and senior.
Elston finished his senior year out strong, totaling 94 tackles and eight interceptions on defense, while catching 34 passes for 656 yards and eight touchdowns on the opposite side of the ball.
Freeze commented via OleMissSports.com: "Our whole staff watched it. That was the last name we were waiting on. To get Elston at the end was a big pick-me-up for our staff."
Ole Miss also added a nice addition of running backs. The Rebels landed three—a speedster in Ridgeway's Jaylen Walton; a power running back in 5'10", 234 pound Kenno Loyal of Decatur, Ga.; and a combination of the two in Tennessee Class AAA Mr. Football I'Tavius Mathers of Blackmon High School in Murfreesboro, TN.
Mathers will probably see most of the carries of the three. He was the Tennessean's Player of the Year as a junior and senior and was also named to the publication's Dream Team in 2011. He was ranked No. 20 among running backs in the nation and No. 7 player in Tennessee according to Rivals.com.
Mathers is the real deal and will look to make an impact immediately.
How Many Games Will Ole Miss Win in 2012?
Junior college transfers Pierce Burton and Darone Bailey are already on campus as mid-year signees and should participate in spring practice in the upcoming weeks. Burton and Bailey will be nice additions to a depleted offensive line.
Bailey, a transfer from Coahoma Community College, earned second team All‐State honors from the Mississippi Association of Junior College Coaches as a freshman. However, he sustained a season-ending ACL injury during his sophomore season, which ended his career in junior college.
If he can get back to 100 percent, Bailey would be a contributor to anchor the Rebels offensive line.
At 6'7" and 290 pounds, Burton helped lead City College of San Francisco to a 12-0 record and a California Junior College state championship. He earned first-team All-Conference Honors, and was also named Team Offensive MVP.
Other than Elston, many think that Burton may be the biggest pickup of the class.
The player I like most of this class is junior college transfer Bo Wallace. Wallace led East Mississippi Community College to the NJCAA National Championship with a 12-0 record. He set NJCAA single-season records with 4,604 passing yards, 4,810 total yards and 53 touchdown passes.
Wallace, named the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year, gives the Rebels six scholarship quarterbacks. Look for Wallace to come in and compete for the starting job at quarterback in 2012. Freeze is really high on this kid and believes he has all the intangibles to do great things in Oxford.
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