Ole Miss Football: NFL Draft Makes Freeze’s 2012 Season Even More Impressive
The Ole Miss football team had a grand total of zero players taken in the 2013 NFL draft.
However, there were 63 SEC players drafted this past weekend in New York City.
With the exception of the Rebels, every SEC club had at least one player drafted.
Further, top-tier SEC West schools performed extremely well in the draft. Alabama and LSU each had nine players selected, while five Texas A&M Aggies heard their names called.
So why is it Ole Miss didn’t have any draft success?
Looking at the big picture, by-and-large Houston Nutt didn’t recruit well in Oxford.
Out of his first two recruiting classes (2008 and 2009), Nutt only saw one player selected in the 2012 NFL draft (Bobby Massie, Arizona Cardinals) That’s a sure sign of trouble and part of the reason his first recruiting class finished their senior season (2011) with a 2-10 overall record (0-8 SEC). Had it not been for a change of leadership, his second senior class would have likely suffered similar results last season.
Knowing this, there should be no question as to how the Rebels went 2-10 in 2011.
Forget about Nutt though, let’s analyze what Hugh Freeze did with his predecessor’s senior class last year. Stepping into Nutt’s mess, Freeze managed to achieve a 7-6 record (3-5 SEC) with Nutt’s senior class that ultimately had not a single player taken in the 2013 NFL draft.
The first-year Rebel turned a 2-10 team into a bowl game winner without a single senior worthy of being drafted.
It’s not necessarily the caliber of recruited talent that defines a coach, rather it’s the level of talent a coach can help pull out of every single player that’s the mark of a winner.
What’s even more impressive than Freeze quickly pulling Ole Miss from the SEC cellar is the fact that for two years now he’s been able to bring in some of the nation’s top high school talent. It would be one thing if he were landing top-10 classes after posting multiple winning seasons, but that’s not the case.
Further, these coveted high school recruits like DE Robert Nkemdiche, OT Laremy Tunsil, WR LaquonTreadwell and S Tony Conner aren’t signing with Ole Miss because they’ve been seeing loads of Rebels selected in the NFL draft. Instead, they’re committing because of the potential they see from the coaching staff and the forward progression of the Ole Miss program.
Between 2000 and 2012, 28 Ole Miss players were taken in the NFL draft. That trend should begin to change with each passing year of the Freeze era in Oxford. Between the talent he is able to get out of his players and the talent level of incoming recruiting classes, the SEC can count on the Rebs to bolster SEC draft numbers in the future.