By Tyler Komis
Despite not being able to have in-person visits with recruits due to COVID-19, Ole Miss football was still able to have a successful signing day on Wednesday by having a Top 20 ranked class with 23 signees.
The Rebels’ class, with National Signing Day still to come on February 3, ranks No. 18 in both 247 Sports and Rivals and sits at No. 7 among the 14 Southeastern Conference programs.
Head Coach Lane Kiffin successfully landed one of the most notable verbal commits. Four-star quarterback Luke Altmyer, who is from Starkville, the hometown of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, had originally committed to Florida State but two weeks ago flipped his commitment to the Rebels.
A big advantage for Ole Miss when it comes to recruiting in years past or during a normal year has been the in-person experiences that Oxford provides. Getting to see the gameday environment, the town, and the University’s beautiful campus are important, not to mention games like the Rebels’ latest victory in the 2020 Egg Bowl over Mississippi State, which could have played a factor in some decisions.
Kiffin said he isn’t due all the credit, because his staff had a big hand in the recruiting success. Ole Miss also made some waves on social media this year, and that has surely helped the Rebels receive more attention from potential prospects.
“(We) made the most of the situation we were in, and with that being said, we signed a Top 20 class. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the recruiting people (on staff) and our assistant coaches,” Kiffin said in Wednesday afternoon’s press conference.
Kiffin knew what positions had to be addressed and did a solid job of fulfilling the program’s needs. He didn’t waste any time attempting to upgrade the deficient defensive side of the ball as 13 of the 23 signees are defensive players.
“We know we need defensive help,” Kiffin said. “If you watched our games this year you know that. We knew we needed to sign defensive players, especially defensive line and secondary (players), with a lot of returning linebacker numbers that we have.”
As Kiffin said, the Rebels desperately need defensive help moving forward after this season’s performances on that side of the ball. The Rebels have given up over 500 yards in multiple games this season and have had lots of trouble stopping almost every opponent’s rush attack. Ole Miss has one more regular season game this Saturday afternoon at LSU.
The Rebels were also able to sign a number of versatile players who can play more than just the position where they’re listed. One player in particular is in-state star MJ Daniels of George County, who is listed as a cornerback on 24/7 Sports. He was deciding between Ole Miss and Mississippi State and chose the Rebels. Daniels is so versatile that he could play on the offensive side of the ball.
“Potentially could play special teams and offense, but primarily a defensive player,” Kiffin said of Daniels. “He could play corner, safety, nickel…really good player and late get. To have those papers this morning while everybody else was watching his press conference, all that was pretty exciting.”
Overall the Early Signing Day provided a great class that Ole Miss football acquired, which should help the program continue in an upward trend heading into 2021.