Ole Miss Football Recruiting: Rebels' Stacked Class Signals Bright Future in SEC
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The Ole Miss Rebels got a shot of adrenaline to the heart of their program on Wednesday's national signing day spectacle.
Thanks to the commitments of No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche, top offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and 5-star safety Tony Conner, the Rebels suddenly have an extremely bright future under second-year head coach Hugh Freeze.
With the competitiveness that characterizes the SEC, it is truly remarkable that a program whose record was 7-6 in 2012 managed to land so many big-name prospects.
It was so outrageous that it prompted many wild accusations on Twitter about the program paying all these athletes ridiculous sums of money. That prompted this tweet from ESPN College GameDay's Kirk Herbstreit:
With Ole Miss having such a HUGE day--here comes all the cynics, haters, and conspiracy theorists attacking the grove!— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) February 6, 2013
Of the four 5-star recruits the Rebels snagged for this stacked class, only Conner hails from Mississippi.
Prior to Wednesday, the Rebels already had the nation's top receiver in Laquon Treadwell in the bag as an explosive target for dual-threat QB Bo Wallace to work with. Pairing him opposite Donte Moncrief should create one of the more exciting receiver duos in the SEC this coming season.
Tunsil can provide an upgrade to the offensive line even as a true freshman, and should be a four-year anchor protecting the quarterback's blindside. He is also athletic enough to get to the second level and be an effective downfield blocker, which will help on outside zone runs and screens.
As exciting as those two prospects are for the offense, the Rebels have enhanced their defense possibly even more significantly thanks to the addition of Nkemdiche and Conner, both of whom should start immediately.
Ole Miss sported a top-25 rush defense last year but was just 80th against the pass (h/t NCAA.com).
The combination of Nkemdiche's explosiveness and ability to get to the quarterback as well as Conner's willingness to step up in run support and play exceptional coverage should instantly improve the Rebels.
Will Ole Miss contend for the SEC title in 2013?
Composite rankings on 247Sports.com have Conner listed as the No. 32 overall prospect in the country. At over 6'1" and 205 pounds, he already has the size to play right away in the physically demanding test the SEC provides on a week to week basis.
Conner turned aside the reigning national champion Alabama Crimson Tide in favor of the Rebels, and Nkemdiche spurned fellow SEC rivals Florida, LSU and others to take his talents to Oxford.
Nkemdiche simply gives the Rebels so much flexibility on the defensive side. He is physically imposing with a massive 6'4", 285-pound frame—and runs a 4.6 40-yard dash.
That unique blend of size and speed allows Nkemdiche to frequently overpower blockers while having enough speed to both recover and get out on the perimeter to make plays. Such a concoction is a coach's dream, and that's why he is the consensus No. 1 prospect of this class.
Along with those four aforementioned standouts is a slew of 4-star commitments, headlined by two-way threat Nickolas Brassell. This will be the JUCO transfer's second stint with the Rebels after being academically ineligible last year (h/t CBS Sports), and he will only add to the potency of the Ole Miss offense.
Speculation will continue to stir as to how this class came together. It will be fun to not only hear how it all unfolded, but to witness how this exciting bunch shapes out on the field in the coming years.
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