Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has been among the SEC’s most impactful recruiters since taking over the Rebels three years ago.

He attracted top 40 recruiting classes to Oxford in each of his first three years on the job from 2012-14, and in 2013 he attracted the nation’s No. 1 prospect, Robert Nkemdiche, to come play for the Rebels.

Freeze has continued to succeed on the recruiting trail this season after Ole Miss won nine games and reached a New Year’s Six bowl. As of this week’s recruiting dead period his current class of 16 commitments ranks 18th in 247Sports’ composite rankings. However, that No. 18 ranking translates to just the ninth-best class in a loaded SEC known for its recruiting prowess.

If Freeze can keep his current class in tact, it would once again be among the best in the nation. But the Rebels also have some room for improvement within their 2015 class, especially if they want to keep up with the rest of their star-studded conference.

Here’s how we graded Ole Miss’ current recruiting class at the dead period:


The Rebels have commitments from five four-star prospects, three of which play on the offensive side of the ball. Two of those prospects — guard Javon Patterson and tackle Drew Richmond — could make an immediate impact for a team with a lackluster offensive line in 2014. Ole Miss closed the season 12th in the SEC in rushing and it ranked in the bottom half of the conference in sacks and tackles for loss allowed.

Freeze and company also earned a commitment from four-star running back Eric Swinney, but he’ll join a crowded backfield filled with former four-star prospects like Jordan Wilkins and Mark Dodson. Both Wilkins and Dodson showed flashes of brilliance this season, but neither could establish himself as the featured back on an offense unable to run the ball effectively in SEC play. Swinney is a mega-talent, but there’s no guaranteeing he’ll pan out as the impact player most Rebel fans hope he can be.

Ole Miss is also aiming to bolster its depth at quarterback in preparation for Bo Wallace’s departure after this year’s Peach Bowl. The Rebels earned a commitment from three-star dual-threat quarterback Jason Pellerin, and it also wooed former Clemson dual-threat signal caller Chad Kelly to Oxford after Kelly played last season at East Mississippi Community College.

The Rebels remaining prospects on offense — two tackles and two athletes — are all three-star recruits. As it stands, Ole Miss has plenty of star power in this year’s class, and it is exiling in addressing problem areas like quarterback and the offensive line.

Once again, Freeze appears to be on top of his game.


Ole Miss boasted the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense in 2014, but much of the core of that defense is slated to depart from Oxford after this season. Thus, in order to maintain the backbone of his program it is critical Freeze recruit well on the defensive side of the ball with this year’s class.

The head coach has already earned two commitments from four-star prospects in middle linebacker Leo Lewis and cornerback Tony Bridges. 247 considers Lewis to be the top high school middle linebacker in the nation, while Bridges is considered among the country’s 10 best junior college prospects.

Those signings would seem to perfectly fill the Rebels’ needs following this year’s departures. Ole Miss will lose sixth-year middle linebacker Deterrian Shackelford and All-SEC outside linebacker Serderius Bryant, amplifying the importance of turning Lewis’ commitment into a signed letter of intent.

The Rebels will also lose All-American cornerback Senquez Golson and All-American safety Cody Prewitt to the NFL, leaving plenty of opportunities for Bridges, who already has experience at the college level, to make an immediate impact in Oxford.

The Rebels also have five three-star commitments on the defensive side of the ball, including two corners, a safety and two outside linebackers. Just like on the offensive side of the ball, Freeze is recruiting to fill the voids that will be left when this season ends, a strategy that could pay off in keeping Ole Miss near the top of the SEC West in the years ahead.


The Rebels won’t lose much from their defensive line after the season, but there is a glaring absence of even a single defensive lineman among the current group of commitments. Teams often like to rotate defensive linemen to get certain situational players on the field when necessary and to keep the group of big bodies fresh and in shape. Even if Ole Miss can’t attract a top-flight defensive lineman to Oxford, it could still benefit from building some depth at either the end or tackle position.

The same can be said for the team’s wide receivers. Ole Miss will return every one of its impactful receiving targets with the exception of senior Vince Sanders, and the two athletes in the 2015 class could turn into dynamic wideouts. Nevertheless, receiver remains the only position the Rebels failed to seriously address with their first 16 commitments, and building depth at the position could pay off in a year or two when Laquon Treadwell, Cody Core, Evan Engram, Quincy Adeboyejo and others approach the end of their careers.