When many fans glazed at the 2008 signee list on February 6, the response was mostly positive with regard to how Ole Miss had been able to manage a top 25 recruiting class on signing day. All considering the head coach was fired and a new staff was coming in while losing several commitments.
Now, the question remains. Who will be the "impact" freshman that arrives and takes everyone by storm? Will it be a favorite? Will it be a dark horse no one predicted?
Here's a quick look at some freshmen who could impact Ole Miss's 2008 team very early:
Enrique Davis (RB), 6'0" 212 lbs., Hargrave Military, VA (Lynn Haven, FL)
The discussion of the Ole Miss signing class begins and ends with five star running back Enrique Davis. Enrique initially signed with Auburn in 2007 but failed to qualify academically and enrolled in prep school at Hargrave.
He maintained commitment to the Tigers until Head Coach Tommy Tubberville hired Tony Franklin from Troy University as his new offensive coordinator, who implemented the spread offense (not quite the preferred offense for a top-notch RB).
Enrique already has the speed, elusiveness, and skills necessary to compete on the SEC level. He was the No. 4 ranked RB in his 2007 class (under Joe McKnight, Noel Devine, and Marc Tyler) and the No. 1 ranked prep school recruit in the 2008 class.
Phil Steele has already named Enrique second team All-SEC, an honor very rare for a freshman. Enrique Davis is necessary for the success of Ole Miss this upcoming season.
Patrick Trahan (LB), 6'2" 230 lbs., Northwest CC, MS (New Orleans, LA)
Another signee with a Tommy Tubberville saga.
Featured in ESPN The Magazine, Trahan explained that Auburn advisors had not done their job and his mother asked him to leave. He transferred to Northwest Community College in Senatobia, MS and was the No. 1 Junior College prospect in the country according to Scout.com.
Tubberville commented a couple of seasons ago coming out of the spring that Patrick Trahan came out as the best linebacker he had. With that being said, Ole Miss linebackers are average at best with Allen Walker, Tony Fein, and Jonathan Cornell. Patrick Trahan could easily fit into the equation.
The biggest question thus far is whether or not he can qualify to get in. He currently is taking summer courses at Northwest and is unlikely to be on campus until early August.
If he can get his grades together and qualify, it looks as though Patrick can come in immediately and provide some support for the Ole Miss defense which struggled tremendously last season.
Devin Thomas (RB), 5'10" 185 lbs., Madison High School (San Antonio, TX)
Selected for the Army All-American Bowl this past season, Devin Thomas really seems to be a diamond in the rough. Playing only six games his senior season after suffering an ankle injury, Thomas racked up 1,477 yards on 128 carries (11.1 yards per carry) and 17 TDs. In four of those games, Thomas didn't even play the second half.
Thomas' 15-minute highlight reel is evident of two things. He has very impressive breakaway speed and is very explosive. In today's current state of football, it seems most teams are going away from the one RB workhorse and turning to multiple RBs to carry the workload.
Considering Thomas comes into fall practice healthy from his ankle injury, I could see Thomas coming in and being a huge surprise for 2008.
DeMareo Marr (6'2" 190 lbs.)—Northwest CC (Senatobia, MS): He comes into a suffering secondary that is in desperate need for help
Melvin Harris (6'7" 200 lbs.)—Buford HS (Buford, GA): After losing out on DeAndre Brown, Houston Nutt found a gem in Melvin Harris.
Emmanuel Stephens (6'3" 225 lbs.)—Blinn CC (Brenham, TX): He only strengthens quite possibly the best defensive line that Ole Miss has ever had.
Andrew Harris (6'4" 200 lbs.)—Hargrave Military (Chatham, VA): Another Hargrave signee that claims to beat others out with his hard work and determination.