Rebels Football Future Looks Bright.
Seph Anderson, Sportswriter to The South, focuses his sports writing and photography skills on covering timely Ole Miss & SEC news, among all things sports across the South.
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Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss had a banner national signing day.
Freeze successfully hauled in four 5-star recruits (rivals.com): Laquon Treadwell, Robert Nkemdiche, Tony Conner and Laremy Tunsil. Without question, Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss are the hottest story of national signing day.
Looking beyond the four 5-star commitments for the Ole Miss Rebels, the entire 2013 class is talented from top to bottom. Not only did Freeze ink four 5-star recruits, but he also signed eight 4-star recruits (rivals.com).
In total, 12 of the 23 commitments on national signing day for Ole Miss were 4-stars or higher (rivals.com). Among the host of 4-star recruits were two 4-star quarterbacks (Devante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan), three 4-star running backs (Mark Dodson Jr., Kailo Moore and Jordan Wilkins), a 4-star tight end (Christian Morgan), a 4-star offensive tackle (Austin Golson) and a 4-star defensive tackle (Lavon Hooks).
There isn’t a person in the country, outside of Freeze and his recruiting staff, that could have ever imagined the Rebels signing such a quality recruiting class following a 7-6 season in 2012.
The 5-star recruits will undoubtedly assist Freeze in challenging Southeastern Conference (SEC) powers like LSU, Alabama and Texas A&M for conference championships in the years ahead. However, more importantly for Ole Miss will be the degree of early production that can be yielded out of their 2013 crop of 4-star recruits.
Which 4-star recruits have the potential to make quick impacts at Ole Miss?
Running back (RB) Mark Dodson, 5’10”, 193 lb. (Memphis, TN)
Recently named a Parade All-American RB, Dodson ranked as high as the nation’s No. 5 all-purpose RB by rivals.com. During his senior season at Whitehaven High School in Memphis, TN, he rushed for 3,295 yards and 37 touchdowns. By the time Dodson had carried the football for the last time, he was wrapping up a Tennessee 6A state championship. He also finished as the all-time leading rusher in Shelby County (greater Memphis, TN) high school football history. Enrolled as a December signee, Dodson will get a chance as early as this spring to start proving his worth to the coaching staff.
Running back (RB) Kailo Moore, 5’10’,’ 190 lb. (Rosedale, MS)
This speedy RB will fit into Hugh Freeze’s fast-paced offensive scheme perfectly. Moore is a near mirror image of fellow Ole Miss RB signee Mark Dodson. An edge for Moore in the up-tempo Rebel offense will be the talents he brings as an extraordinary track runner. An 11-time 2A state track champion in Mississippi, he boasts a top 100-meter dash time of 10:30 and a top 200-meter time of 21:22. There is no question Freeze would like to see Moore get several touches a game with his explosive speed, even as a true freshman. He is reminiscent of former Rebel Dexter McCluster.
Tight end (TE) Christian Morgan, 6’4”, 254 lb. (Plano, TX)
Of all the positions Ole Miss needed to fill in the 2013 class, TE was at the top of the list. Having lost both TE Ferbia Allen and Jamal Moseley as seniors, the No. 11 ranked TE by rivals.com is a player capable of finding immediate playing time. Enrolled as a December signee at Ole Miss like Dodson, Morgan will likely have an edge on fellow TEs Evan Engram and A.J. Jackson since he will get to take part in spring practice. If Freeze can add consistent TE play to his offense, it will provide one more offensive weapon. Morgan also provides size and athleticism that Ole Miss has been missing at TE.
Offensive Tackle (OT) Austin Golson, 6’6”, 290 lb. (Prattville, AL)
The No. 3 OT in the nation per ESPN, Golson should complement 5-star addition Laremy Tunsil quite well in Oxford. The Rebels will return a handful of OL that saw significant playing time in 2012, but a player with the talent of Golson should at least earn a chance to come in and contribute early. Tunsil and Golson should be able to help one another adjust to the curve of being SEC newcomers, as both highly regarded true freshmen will be chomping at the bit to earn playing time early in 2013. While he doesn’t draw the attention of signees like Dodson, Moore, Morgan, or even Tunsil, Golson has the potential to be the true sleeper of the 2013 class.
In the End
The Ole Miss Rebels closed national signing day with a No. 5 ranked class by ESPN, No. 7 by rivals.com and No. 9 by scout.com. If defensive end Elijah Daniel had not flipped to Auburn at the last minute and defensive end Chris Jones had not inked with Mississippi State, Hugh Freeze truly could have landed the undisputed No. 1 class in America. Maybe he is saving that for next year?
Nevertheless, the folks in Oxford are more than happy with the class Freeze signed in 2013.