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Rebels Signing Day Dreams Dampened, But Hope To Win Linebacker Lotto

Brian Scott Rippee sits in his “war spot”in the Student Media Center to prepare for Signing Day. (Photo/Ariyl Onstott)

It is no secret that the Ole Miss Rebels 2016 football season left something to be desired. They started the season off with the 10th best recruiting class in the nation, and somehow came out of the season with five wins and seven losses, forgoing any chance of a bowl game and dimming their prospects for the 2017 recruiting season.
The Rebels poor season is not the only factor to blame for this year’s grim recruiting outlook. Partially responsible is the never-ending NCAA investigation into the Ole Miss football program. After a three-year investigation into potential recruiting and rules violations committed by Ole Miss, the NCAA continues to refuse to release any information on its findings or even give an indication of the Rebels’ fate. 
With the investigations and uncertainties of the program, this is the first unranked recruiting class under Head Coach Hugh Freeze in his five years at the job. Investigations stifle a program’s momentum. The consequences are the lost recruits and commitments. 
The Rebels are in desperate need to fill gaps that stifled a talented team’s success. Last season, the Rebels were bad defending the run. Bad is perhaps an understatement. The Rebels gave up almost three thousand yards on the ground last season. They even allowed LSU running back Leonard Fournette to crank out 284 rushing yards in a single game, posting a school record. With a strong defensive line, this points to the linebackers as the major weakness to the 2016 team.  The Rebel Walk’s Sports Reporter Ryan Dillard agrees.
“Linebackers, linebackers, linebackers. Ole Miss needs to add at least two more LBs in this class, in addition to those who already enrolled early: Breon Dixon and Brenden Williams,” he said.
Dillard was anticipating today’s signing of three-star Mohamed Sanogo and three-star Zikerrion Baker. Dillard also noted that as of Tuesday night, D.D. Bowie was learning towards Ole Miss. He would be the highest nationally-ranked member of Ole Miss’s 2017 recruiting class if Ole Miss can sign him.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, Dixon and Williams will help the Rebs, but unfortunately the team missed big on Starkville native Willie Gay. The 4-star linebacker, ranked by 247Sports as the number three outside linebacker in the country, was committed to Ole Miss before backing off that decision mid-season. Ultimately, Gay stayed in Starkville to sign with in-state rival Mississippi State University.
In theory, Ole Miss was looking for only seven more recruits this Signing Day. The Daily Mississippian Sports Editor Brian Scott Rippee said that may not be enough to fill the gaps.
“I definitely think there will be some left to be desired just because we’re gonna miss Willie Gay and probably D.D. Bowie, which is a kid they have had committed for a while, but again, this NCAA trouble has scared off a lot of recruits…despite all that, I think it’s possible to scrounge up a decent recruiting class despite the limitations.”

Story contributed by Meek School of Journalism & New Media students Ariyl Onstott, Huntington Maddrey, Wes Cooper, and Desmen Ison.
For questions or comments, email hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

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