The Ole Miss Rebels really laid down a major marker in the SEC by signing Robert Nkemdiche.
Nkemdiche, a 5-star defensive end, is almost universally regarded as the top prospect in the country. National signing day as a whole was a major coup for the Rebels, as they finished with the sixth-best recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.
It's been a little while since Ole Miss was a nationally relevant school when it came to the gridiron. With Nkemdiche, that can all change.
Rebels fans know full well that good recruiting classes don't mean automatic success. Ed Orgeron was able to bring in solid players, but the results never came on the field.
With Hugh Freeze, the school has a coach who's managed to be successful at every place he's been.
Although the coach has only been at the school for a year, finishing 7-6 is a major turnaround from where Houston Nutt left the program. You get the feeling that once Freeze has the players, success will come.
2013 was a great way to start building toward that success.
On the field, Ole Miss got the kind of recruit in Nkemdiche who can immediately upgrade its defense.
He is much like Jadeveon Clowney in that he can change the game from the defensive end position. Clowney will rightfully be getting some Heisman hype next year for what he did last year for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Of course, he won't be there just yet, but there's no doubt Nkemdiche can reach that level.
In the SEC, you need great athletes to keep up with the LSU Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators. Nkemdiche is that kind of player.
At 6'4" and 285 lbs., Nkemdiche is an absolute athletic freak. Even the best coaches can't give a player athletic ability. Some players are simply lucky, and Nkemdiche is one of them.
He's strong enough to bully opposing offensive linemen and fast enough to get around them as well. Nkemdiche has all the tools to become an elite pass-rusher. More importantly, he has the speed to help track down dual-threat quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel.
Aside from his on-field attributes, you have to also look at what making this kind of recruiting splash can do for the future recruiting classes.
Nkemdiche can help to entice those players who may be on the fence, wondering whether Ole Miss is a serious player in the SEC.
With his imminent arrival, recruits may now see Ole Miss as a major destination. Not everybody can play at the biggest schools in the country. The Rebels can offer the shot to get major playing time at one of the more up-and-coming programs in the country.
The SEC should be on notice because there's big things happening down in Oxford, Miss.
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