Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU...Ole Miss?
Are the Ole Miss Rebels the next power in the SEC West?
Judging from the way that second-year head coach Hugh Freeze is recruiting, it is certainly more of a realistic possibility now than it was six months ago.
The Rebels got good news on Thursday with the commitment of 5-star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
The 6'3", 195-pounder from Crete, Ill., is rated as the top wide receiver in the country, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings. He boasts 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, runs crisp routes and has everything needed to become a star in the SEC sooner rather than later.
He celebrated with his Twitter followers after his announcement ceremony at Crete-Monee High School.
Hotty Toddy Babyyyyyyyyy 💙❤💙❤ Im Part Of The RebelNation !!— Laquon Treadwell (@SuccessfulQuon) January 18, 2013
Treadwell will join rising junior Donte Moncrief in that high-octane Ole Miss offense, which should give opposing defensive coordinators plenty of headaches over the next few years.
He joins a recruiting class that is already loaded with talent, including 4-star defensive tackle Lavon Hooks, 4-star running back Kalio Moore and former Rebel and junior college transfer Nickolas Brassell.
But the best may be yet to come in Oxford.
The Rebels are the unquestioned leader for Robert Nkemdiche, the nation's consensus No. 1 overall prospect. At 6'4", 285 pounds, Nkemdiche has the size and speed to be a force at defensive end in the SEC from the moment he steps foot on campus.
If he signs on the dotted line with the Rebels, he will join former linebacker C.J. Johnson on that defensive line, which could be one of the best in the SEC.
At the back end of that defense, 5-star safety Tony Conner could be headed to Oxford as well. The 6'1", 203-pounder from Batesville, Miss., is also considering Alabama and Auburn; but the Rebels are his favorite.
If both of those players sign on the dotted line on Feb. 6 with Freeze and the Rebs, we'll be looking at Ole Miss in the Top 10 of the 2013 team rankings.
Talk about keeping the momentum going.
The Rebels shocked everyone this season, finishing the regular season with six wins and then dominating Pitt in a 38-17 win in the BBVA Compass Bowl. They took Texas A&M and LSU to the wire and finished the season averaging 423.8 yards per game—143 yards per game more than they averaged in 2011.
In addition to the offensive turnaround, they swung in-state momentum back in their direction with their 41-24 win over Mississippi State to close out the regular season—their first win over the Bulldogs since 2008.
Is Ole Miss a championship-caliber team in 2013? No, probably not.
But, it will be a competitive team that is no longer a pushover, even if Nkemdiche and Conner don't come to Ole Miss.
If they do, there's nothing to suggest the momentum in Oxford will slow down anytime soon. That momentum could lead the Rebels into division title contention in 2014.