Ole Miss Rebels guide to National Signing Day
We’re inside of 24 hours until ink hits paper in college football, the most important day of the offseason in the SEC as touted prep seniors sign binding letters of intent. National Signing Day has become a February spectacle we’re all interested in as football fiends, one that breeds anticipation at every major program in the country.
The final week leading up to National Signing Day has not gone according to plan for the Ole Miss Rebels, who are in jeopardy of losing three four-star prospects at positions of need from their 2015 recruiting class.
Last weekend, the Rebels lost their commitment from four-star inside linebacker prospect and Mississippi native Leo Lewis, who many expect will sign with LSU on Wednesday. LSU is actually closer geographically to Lewis’ hometown in the southwest corner of Mississippi than either SEC program in the Magnolia State, which could make it tough for Ole Miss to win him back.
Lewis is the No. 1 high school inside linebacker in the nation, and the Rebels could really use his services after losing graduated seniors Deterrian Shackelford and Serderius Bryant from the starting lineup. Lewis had been committed to Ole Miss since September.
To make matters worse, Ole Miss lost another four-star commitment in offensive tackle Drew Richmond, the No. 3 high school offensive tackle in this year’s class.
Richmond had been committed to since September as well, and he was going to provide added star power to an offensive line that lacked such qualities outside of bookend left tackle Laremy Tunsil (who was once a five-star recruit in his own right).
And it’s no lock that recent four-star wide receiver commit Van Jefferson will ultimately sign with Ole Miss on Wednesday. The Michigan native visited Jim Harbaugh and the University of Michigan last weekend and said he felt at home in Ann Arbor.
Those three potential decommitments could be crushing to the Rebels’ recruiting class, especially considering they come at positions at which Ole Miss was plagued by injury in 2014. The Rebs’ top wideout (Laquon Treadwell), top offensive tackle (Tunsil) and top returning linebacker (Denzel Nkemdiche) all suffered season-ending broken legs during the second half of the season.
One bright spot is the potential that four-star wideout Damarkus Lodge chooses Ole Miss as his landing point on Wednesday. Lodge visited Ole Miss and Texas A&M earlier this month, and those two schools are regarded as the consensus finalists on his short list. Many have hinted Ole Miss is in the lead, but until he signs on the dotted line anything can happen.
But for a team that struggled to air the ball out after losing Treadwell, adding Lodge would be a huge get.
OLE MISS 2015 RECRUITING CLASS
- National Rank: 19
- SEC Rank: 9
- No. of Commitments: 18
- No. of Commitments by Rating: 6 four-stars, 12 three-stars
Top incoming offensive players: Four-star OG Javon Patterson; Four-star WR Van Jefferson; Four-star RB Eric Swinney
Top incoming defensive players: Four-star DT D.J. Jones; Four-star CB Tony Bridges; Four-star S Armani Linton
Primary remaining target: Four-star ILB Leo Lewis
Best-case scenario: Ole Miss finds a way to somehow woo Lewis and Drew Richmond back to the Rebels while maintaining Jefferson’s commitment and adding wideout Damarkus Lodge to the class.
- Javon Patterson, OG, Four-star
- Van Jefferson, WR, Four-star
- Eric Swinney, RB, Four-star
- Armani Linton, S, Four-star
- Willie Hibbler, ATH, Three-star
- Cameron Ordway, CB, Three-star
- Jason Pellerin, QB, Three-star
- Rasool Clemens, DE, Three-star
- Alex Givens, OT, Three-star
- Michael Howard, OT, Three-star
- Jordus Smith, CB, Three-star
- Ross Donelly, DT, Three-star
- Montrell Custis, CB, Three-star
- Zedrick Woods, OLB, Three-star
- D.J. Jones, DT, Four-star (signed during Juco period)
- Tony Bridges, CB, Four-star (signed during Juco period)
- Chad Kelly, QB, Three-star (signed during Juco period)
- Terry Caldwell, OLB, Three-star (signed during Juco period)
Editor’s note: Saturday Down South’s references to recruiting rankings are to 247Sports.com industry composite ranking.