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Not a 5-Star, No Problem – Most Underrated Recruit From Each Of Freeze's Recruiting Classes

Coach Hugh Freeze
(Photo by Danny Dickey)

National Signing Day is just a day away, and with the Rebels ranked 71st in the country according to rivals.com, fans are hoping that numbers can be misleading. While everyone knows the clout that names such as Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell, Shea Patterson and many more hold, we decided to look back at some of the most underrated recruits during Hugh Freeze’s tenure in Oxford. These are the players who may have come in under the radar, but the success Freeze has had at Ole Miss, wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions from these players. 
Class of 2012
Cody Core 
Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

Core was just a 2-star recruit at the receiver position, and after not receiving an offer from his hometown school of Auburn, Core came to Oxford. Core totaled just five catches during his first two seasons but was an integral part of the Rebel offense in the coming years. Core emerged as a primary target opposite of Treadwell. #88 was always reliable on key third downs and was willing to go across the middle for key grabs. Core ended his time with the Rebels with 83 catches 1,297 yards and 10 TDs. 
Class of 2013 
Evan Engram
Ole Miss senior Evan Engram snags the reception and beats the tackle from Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison at Vaught-Hemmingway stadium Saturday during the Ole Miss v Alabama game. Photo by Danny Dickey 

The class of 2013 was set as the new gold standard for Ole Miss recruiting as Freeze pulled in three 5-star players, but for this list, we looked to a 3-star TE from Powder Springs, GA. Evan Engram came in as the 45th ranked player at his position, but quickly showed that he shouldn’t have been overlooked by anyone. Engram’s freshman season ended early due to injury but his sophomore season was capped off with a 176-yard performance in the 2014 Egg Bowl. The production continued, and before it was all over, Engram became the Ole Miss record holder for TE’s in yards and catches with 162 catches for 2,320 yards and added 15 TDs. 
Class of 2014 
Marquis Haynes
Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

Expectations for the class following the star-studded class of ’13 were high, and while this class didn’t quite live up, they certainly didn’t disappoint. Demarquis Gates, Fahn Cooper, Markell Park have all come out of this class to play numerous roles, among many others, but one stand above the rest for the sake of our list. Marquis Haynes was just a 3-star recruit, and with his combination of size and speed, it’s hard to believe he had just three other offers according to rivals.com (Miami, UNC, South Carolina). Haynes has racked up 22.5 sacks during his career, and Rebel fans were excited to hear Haynes will be returning for his senior year. 
Class of 2015  
Chad Kelly 
Chad Kelly
Photo by Danny Dickey

Bo Wallace was gone, and the Rebels needed a new QB. In the class of 2015, a 3-star QB came in from EMCC to pick up where Wallace left off. A lot of baggage followed Chad Kelly on his path to Oxford, after being dismissed from Clemson and an incident at a hometown bar before arriving at Ole Miss. Kelly quickly quieted the talk of off-the-field distractions in his first season in a Rebel uniform. Kelly tossed 31 TDs and surpassed 4,000 yards as he led the Rebels to a Sugar Bowl victory. A torn ACL against Georgia Southern ended Kelly’s senior year early, but his legacy as a Rebel had been cemented long before that.  
Class of 2016
Photo by Paul Keelaghan

The Rebels ran with the momentum from their Sugar Bowl victory and turned it into the #8 class overall in 2016. In a class headlined by Shea Patterson, Greg Little, and Benito Jones, the future looks to be in good hands for the Rebels. As far as determining the value of underrated recruits it may be a bit too early for all that. 

Steven Gagliano is a writer for Hottytoddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com
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