Ole Miss football recruiting: 5 takeaways after Day 1 of the Early Signing Period
Most of Lane Kiffin’s work is complete with regards to this 2021 signing class. The Rebels inked 22 signatures by Wednesday afternoon, rounding out their class to finish December with as much momentum as anyone in the Southeastern Conference.
If Kiffin and his staff can close on a couple more targets with the spots they have remaining, the Rebels have a chance to finish with a top-15 class. The 2021 class currently sits at 18th in the country and 7th in the SEC, according to 247Sports’ class rankings.
Here are 5 takeaways from Day 1 of the Early Signing Period.
1. Ole Miss was not on the wrong end of a flip
The Rebels were able to swing a couple of prospects their way from other schools in the past 2 weeks, including a major in-state target on Wednesday. We will get to that in a minute. But Ole Miss was able to keep everyone they had committed entering the day, and they were not on the wrong side of a flip in the final hours. The Rebels started on the outside looking in for a pair of linebacker prospects in 4-star Junior Colson (signed with Michigan) and 3-star John Lewis (signed with Mississippi State), but neither was considered particularly likely to flip in Ole Miss’ favor. Aside from those 2, this class remained intact and added a couple of pieces to make it even stronger.
2. Ole Miss lands MJ Daniels
Every year, there is seemingly 1 in-state recruiting saga with multiple twists and turns, with the ultimate decision leaving 1 school elated and another feeling a stinging defeat. This year’s involved MJ Daniels, a 3-star cornerback from George County High School who was originally committed to Ole Miss, then flipped to Mississippi State, only to sign with the Rebels on Wednesday morning. Daniels’ decision was a significant blow to a Bulldogs recruiting class that suffered a trio of losses while simultaneously strengthening Ole Miss’ class at a position of need.
3. Rebels get secondary help
Speaking of Daniels, co-defensive coordinators Chris Partridge and D.J. Durkin are tasked with rectifying what has been among the worst pass defenses in college football over the past 5 seasons. Wednesday signified a major step toward doing just that, as the Rebels signed 7 new members of the secondary, the latest of the group being Daniels — a lengthy, physical corner who should help the team sooner than later. Three of the 6 4-star recruits in this class are safeties or corners, though Dink Jackson could end up at linebacker.
Meeting needs is a cliche often thrown around when talking recruiting. But the Rebels certainly did that on Wednesday as it pertains to the back end of their defense.
4. Weapons on the perimeter
Ole Miss has pretty much been a 1-man band at receiver the past 2 seasons. Elijah Moore’s ridiculous numbers are evidence enough of that. Moore is likely to move on to professional football at season’s end, and the Rebels have a bunch of prospects on the roster who have either not realized their potential or are trending toward not panning out. An argument could be made that the latter group is bigger than the former.
Ole Miss added 3 receivers and a tight end on Wednesday, including their highest rated player and longest commitment in Bralon Brown. The Rebels also signed 3-star JJ Henry, who fits Moore’s profile and could be the program’s next speedy and productive slot receiver. Four-star tight end Hudson Wolfe flipped from Tennessee last week and made it official on Wednesday. He is already the most promising successor to Kenny Yeboah. In-state product Brandon Buckhaulter also signed with the Rebels.
This team will be in dire need of playmaking on the perimeter next fall, and it would not be shocking if one of these guys contributed immediately.
5. Kiffin’s blueprint taking shape
During his introductory press conference last fall, Kiffin uttered the same words a lot coaches passionately declare after landing a new job: They’re going to go all over the country to find players. Easier said than done. Kiffin hired a staff with the intentions of recruiting nationally, and the seeds of this plan are starting to take shape. Ole Miss signed kids from 9 states, and 17 of their 22 signees come from outside of Mississippi. This is the 1st class you could fairly judge Kiffin and this staff on, as far as recruiting prowess, and they’ve delivered on that promise so far.
Ole Miss still needs linebacker help and has a few moves left to make. But this class is shaping up to be a sturdy foundation for what Kiffin wants to build in Oxford.