Ole Miss landed back-to-back top-15 classes for the first time in school history dating back to the first recruiting rankings in 2002. It was a consensus top-20 class, ranked as high as No. 14 (247Sports.com).
The 27-player signing class included 14 high school and junior college All-Americans and five consensus four-star prospects, as well as offensive lineman Rod Taylor, who is listed as a 5-star prospect by 247Sports.com and a 4-star prospect by the other three major recruiting services.
After head coach Hugh Freeze's signing day press conference, I caught up with Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork to recount the day that was for Ole Miss football.
On the importance of signing day to the football program and the athletic program as whole:
"This day is really about the whole cycle of a football program, where you have fall practice, then you have the season, then you have the postseason, and then you go into signing day, and then you go into spring practice. This is another way to sell the program at the highest level. We know we have to get players, and so our coaches go out and do that.
"To me, it's part of the big cycle of college football, and it becomes another holiday mixed in with all of the things that we do to run a high-level football program. The attention and coverage is great, and it lifts the entire athletic program to see what our staff has done the last two years to recruit at the highest level."
On this year's class compared to last year's class:
"Last year was so different and so unique because of the connections we had with the number one player overall, number one offensive lineman and number one receiver. It's different, and what's great about today is we had no surprises.
"The less drama you can have on signing day, the better. We had a couple of battles at the end, but the less drama, the better. To me, today was perfect, and this is how you want it to go every year, where you're recruiting a high level but you have no surprises in a negative way. Our staff did a great job."
Three takeaways from Ole Miss' 80-64 loss at No. 18 Kentucky on Tuesday night:
1. Missed Opportunity, But More Opportunities Await Rebels
With the 80-64 loss at No. 18 Kentucky, Ole Miss moves to 15-6 overall and 6-3 in Southeastern Conference play. The Rebels are now 4-6 against top-100 RPI teams, including 0-4 against top-50 RPI teams.
Ole Miss turns around and hosts Missouri on Saturday, which is just outside the top 50 at No. 51 in the latest RPI (ESPN.com). The Rebels still have two more big opportunities at home against Kentucky and Florida, which are rated No. 13 and No. 5, respectively, in the RPI. Ole Miss also travels to Arkansas (No. 85) and hosts Vanderbilt (No. 69).
2. Kentucky Sets Tone Early In Second Half
After going into halftime with a 35-34 lead, Kentucky opened the second half on a 15-7 run to stretch the lead to 50-41 with 15:06 left after a Julius Randle dunk. Ole Miss got to within seven at 50-43 and 58-51, but the Rebels were not able to cut too far into the lead after that initial flurry by the Wildcats.
Kentucky also shot the ball much better in the second half, shooting 60 percent (15-of-25) in the second half after shooting 42.3 percent (11-of-26) in the first half.
3. Wildcats Win Battle In The Paint
Head coach Andy Kennedy talked about Kentucky's size with all five starters listed at 6-foot-6 or taller. Willie Cauley-Stein (7-foot-0) and Alex Poythress (6-foot-8) also combined for 49 minutes off the bench for the Wildcats.
Ole Miss did well against Kentucky's size in the first half, holding an advantage in points in the paint (18-16) and second-chance points, while being even in offensive rebounding (8-8) and being outrebounded by just five at 22-17.
In the second half, however, Kentucky held a decisive edge in points in the paint (28-6), second-chance points (14-7), defensive rebounds (12-3) and total rebounds (19-9). The Wildcats' leading scorer on the season, Julius Randle, also had 11 of his 12 points in the second half.
As we are all aware, Ole Miss legendary tennis coach Billy Chadwick will retire at season's end. Throughout his career, Ole Miss fans have witnessed many memorable moments on and off the courts.
Chadwick has been coaching at Ole Miss for what will be 35 years and, as a tribute, we are going to reflect and try to highlight the 35 top moments of Chadwick's tenure. For a coach that has accumulated over 600 wins during his career, picking out only 35 is no small feat.
We are going to begin with #35 today, and we will countdown until the last match of the season.
Chadwick began his coaching career at Ole Miss in 1979 as the women's tennis coach, laying the foundation for the excellent team they have today.
No. 35 on our list is Chadwick's first big win as the women's tennis coach at Ole Miss. In 1982, he led the Lady Rebels to the SEC finals with a big upset over No. 2 Georgia (5-4) in the semifinals. They also beat No. 4 seeded Vanderbilt 8-1 in the quarterfinals.
The Lady Rebels went on to finish seventh in the AIAW Nationals and earned the program's first top 20 national ranking.
Stay tuned for #34 on Thursday. We are just getting started.Special assistance by media relations student Wesley Boock.
With Saturday's 75-71, comeback win over South Carolina, Ole Miss is 6-2 in the Southeastern Conference and tied for second in the league standings with Kentucky entering Tuesday's showdown with the Wildcats. The Rebels have also played themselves into the NCAA Tournament conversation as one of the first five teams out, according to the latest USA Today bracket released Monday.
Ole Miss enters Tuesday's game rated No. 56 in the latest Ratings Percentage Index (ESPN.com), while the Wildcats are rated No. 13, the highest rated opponent to date and the second-highest opponent on the schedule. The Rebels are 4-5 against top-100 RPI teams this season with wins over LSU, Vanderbilt, Penn State and Middle Tennessee.
"We have opportunities on the horizon, and we don't pay a lot of attention to the projections in the first week in February," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "There is so much basketball left to be played, and we certainly lived that last year. We were dead numerous times, and our guys continued to grind and fight. Anytime you're in a league such as the SEC, you're going to have quality opportunities. We have two this week, and my focus is just on getting our kids ready for the challenges."
Ole Miss had a similar opportunity last Wednesday at Tennessee, but they fell behind 13-4 by the first media timeout in an 86-70 loss. Tennessee held a decisive edge in rebounding (45-27), points in the paint (36-24) and second-chance points (19-4), and Kentucky presents similar problems with all five projected starters listed at 6-foot-6 or taller.
"I hope we can take the (right) approach that we have go in there with so we don't get the same result where we get behind 13-4 and then have to battle the five future pros, the hall of fame coach and the 23,000," said Kennedy of comparing Kentucky to Tennessee. "I hope we don't get behind early. It's a different team. Tennessee is veteran-laden, more physical, below the rim. These guys are high-flyers."
Kentucky is 80-2 at Rupp Arena under John Calipari, including 13-0 this season. The Wildcats hold a 100-13 lead in the all-time series, including a 26-1 mark at Rupp Arena, with the Rebels' lone win there coming Feb. 14, 1998.
The Wildcats lead the league in field goal percentage (47.4 percent), rebounding (41.8 rpg) and rank second in scoring (80.0 ppg). They also lead the league in rebounding margin (+10.1 rpg) and offensive rebounding percentage (42.8 percent). Freshman forward Julius Randle leads the team, averaging a double-double with 16.1 points per game and a league-leading 10.1 rebounds per game.
"They're extremely long and athletic," Kennedy said. "We better make a bunch of shots because it's going to be hard to get rebounds. That's what they do. They are young, but they have been very good at Rupp, and that's where we have to go Tuesday."
Ole Miss seeking quality wins, starting with Kentucky, writes Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger
Marshall-mania hits Rupp Arena for Kentucky game, writes Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herlad-Leader
A three-spot from UK's Ole Miss preview, writes John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader
Ole Miss senior Marshall Henderson is all grown up, writes Andy Katz of ESPN.com
Ole Miss Rifle Promo 2014: vs Navy from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.
The Ole Miss rifle team continue its spring season on Wednesday at Memphis before returning home to host Navy on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Patricia C. Lamar National Guard Readiness Center. Follow the Rebels on Twitter, @OleMissRifle and on Facebook at OleMissRifle.
The madness of National Signing Day returns on Wednesday
, and while there isn't as much media focus on Ole Miss as last year, things seem to be shaping up nicely for the Rebels. As of Monday morning, the latest rankings have Ole Miss' 2014 class as high as No. 11 (247Sports) and consensus top-15 (ESPN #15, Rivals #15, Scout #15, 247Composite #13). After assembling a top-10 group a year ago, it would mark the first time in school history to record back-to-back top-15 signing classes. Below is a breakdown of how the Rebels have fared since recruiting rankings first emerged 13 years ago.
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Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2014
- Ole Miss split a pair of game last week, falling on the road at Tennessee on Wednesday before rallying to beat the South Carolina Gamecocks 75-71 at home Saturday afternoon.
- The Rebels rallied from a 15-point, second half deficit to knock off South Carolina on Saturday, and ended the game on a 29-10 run. Senior Marshall Henderson scored 21 points for Ole Miss and junior Jarvis Summers added 16 points, including 8 of Ole Miss' final 11 points in the come-from-behind victory. Ole Miss trailed by 5 points at halftime and was down by 15 points with nine minutes in the game remaining before starting its run.
- The Rebels' comeback against South Carolina was their largest second-half comeback since overcoming a 15-point deficit at Arkansas in 2012.
- Ole Miss is 26-9 (.743 winning percentage) over its last 35 games vs. SEC opponents dating back to 2012, which is the best mark in school history. It is also tied with Florida for the best mark in the SEC over the last 35 games.
- At 6-2, the Rebels are tied with last year's team and the 1937-38 Ole Miss squad for the best start to SEC play after eight games in school history. Ole Miss travels to Kentucky on Tuesday before returning home to host Missouri on Saturday.
- Ole Miss dominated Jacksonville State 7-0 Saturday to improve to 3-1 on the season. The Rebels only gave up 10 games total to the Gamecocks in doubles and singles, and they outscored JSU 18-0 in doubles.
- Zalina Khairudinova and Julia Jones won their sixth doubles match in a row, and improved to 4-0 in dual matches this season. Mai El Kamash picked up her team-leading 14th win in singles, while Jones earned her 13th win of the year.
- The Rebels have now posted three shutouts this year in their first four matches.
- Senior Caroline Rohde-Moe was one of nine Ole Miss student-athletes inducted into the Who's Who Among Colleges and Universities last Friday at the Gertrude Ford Center. The two-time All-SEC honoree is an outstanding student in the Honors College.
- The Rebels are off until Feb. 21 when they host a doubleheader against Lipscomb and Tennessee State.
- Ole Miss went 0-2 on the week after a 99-70 road loss at No. 7/8 South Carolina on Thursday, and an 81-60 defeat to Florida on Sunday at home. The Rebels will face four ranked opponents in their next six games.
- Valencia McFarland extended her scoring streak to 110 consecutive games by scoring in each of Ole Miss' last two games. She also extended her consecutive games started streak to 100 games with starts against South Carolina and Florida. McFarland has started each game of the last two seasons.
- Tia Faleru's 21 points and 14 rebounds against Florida marked her 11th double-double of the season, a number which leads the SEC. It's also the most double-doubles for an Ole Miss player since former Rebel Nikki Byrd had 12 during the 2011-12 season. Faleru also leads the league in rebounding with 9.7 rebounds per game.
- After her 30 points over the week. Valencia McFarland is now 18 points away from her 1,500th-career point. She will become one of seven players in program history to reach the mark.
- The Rebels were off last week, but junior Nik Scholtz traveled back to his home country of South Africa to represent it in the Davis Cup. With his country down 0-1 to Monaco, Scholtz won an exciting five-setter against world No. 276 ranked Benjamin Balleret to tie the match. South Africa ended up winning the match 3-2.
- The Rebels are back in action Friday with a doubleheader against Southern Miss.
Full transcript of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from Kentucky head coach John Calipari and Missouri head coach Frank Haith. The Rebels travel to Lexington, Ky., to play the Wildcats on Tuesday (6 p.m., ESPNU) and then return home to play the Tigers on Saturday (4 p.m., Fox Sports Net).
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy
We have two very big challenges. We have tomorrow night in Lexington against one of the better teams in the country. We have not had an unbelievable amount of success in Rupp and then turning around and hosting Missouri, which is playing very good basketball and presents a number of challenges with quite arguably the best backcourt in college basketball. It's another week of SEC play with those challenges.
On Missouri guards Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross:
They're very good players. Clarkson has had a Player-of-the-Year-type start to SEC play, and Jabari Brown has taken his game to another level, coming off I believe it was a career-high in their outing against Kentucky, as I was preparing for Kentucky and Missouri this week. I saw the game. He's playing with a lot of confidence. He has always been a very good shooter and now his game his game has expanded when he can do more things off the bounce. And then Earnest Ross was at Auburn prior to going to Missouri and has developed into a deadly perimeter shooter and a guy who physically you have to match his intensity.
On Kentucky's perimeter play:
The biggest concern for us is their size. We're not overly big in the backcourt, and they have a lot of size. They play (Jarrod) Polson a little bit, and he's probably the only guy on their roster under 6-foot-5 who gets in the game. They present a number of issues with their size and versatility. The (Aaron and Andrew) Harrison twins are really starting to play much more confidently like with all freshmen, as the season gets longer and they get more comfortable in their roles. James Young is as prolific a scorer as Calipari has had from day one who has scored as efficiently as he has. They present a number of challenges with their size, athleticism and ability to make shots.
On Kentucky's Julius Randle:
His overall game is what sticks out to me. He's very physically strong and attacks the ball. Great players are always around the ball, and he always seems to be around the ball. He faces up and makes shots from the perimeter. Most everybody will do what we will try to do, which is put some bodies between him and the basket, and hopefully we can get him off his straight path. If you let allow him to get to his left hand and have a straight path to the basket, there's going to be very little you are going to be able to do.
On NCAA Tournament projections:
We have opportunities on the horizon, and we don't pay a lot of attention to the projections in the first week in February. There is so much basketball left to be played, and we certainly lived that last year. We were dead numerous times, and our guys continued to grind and fight. Anytime you're in a league such as the SEC, you're going to have quality opportunities. We have two this week, and my focus is just on getting our kids ready for the challenges.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari
You're talking about two teams that have two teams that have players who can break you down and score when they need to. Mississippi State was up four on us when they played us here, and we kind of wore them down with a little bit of our depth, but I'm not sure we will be able to do that down there. Mississippi, Andy has them playing so well. They're running their stuff and executing and playing through the people they need to play through. They're playing zone and scrambling it up a little bit. They're putting out a 1-3-1 zone and putting out a little bit of a half-court trap. They're doing great stuff. Both teams are well coached. Both teams are in position to win games because of how they're being coached, and players are playing their roles well.
On the Missouri win on Saturday:
The whole mantra and message for the week was passion, outward emotion and enthusiasm for each other and showing it. We practiced all week on recognizing each other's good plays and verbally doing it. We have such a young team. We have the youngest team I have ever coached and one of the youngest teams in college basketball history. Their emotions are all tied to how they're playing offensively. Our strength of schedule is top-five. That's why when everybody gets caught up with us having to win every game, we don't. We just have to take care of business. Our strength is top-five, and it's not going to change a whole lot to finish out the year.
Our efficiency on offense, we're holding onto the ball too much, and it's top-10 or top-five. The issue becomes the enthusiasm, passion and spirit we play with on defense. We should be a better defensive team than we are last year. A lot of it is transition defense. How about we sprint back? Last game, they were driving right. Make them drive left, and they just kept driving right. There are some things that we can do to make us better. It's not a skill set. It's not that we don't have good guys or we're a good team. All of the things that people say are our weaknesses are things we can change. We have size, athleticism and depth. The things you have no control over, we have. We have things we can change, and we're going to try to.
On Missouri's Jabari Brown:
He was outstanding. He flew up and down the court and put himself in position to get out ahead of our defense. If you leave him alone, he makes shots. The last five or six games, he was making 60-70 percent of his threes. Whoever is playing Missouri, and I'm happy we're not playing them again, you have to prepared to say when he gets going, what are you going to do? We went a little zone and trapped some pick-and-rolls. We did some stuff to try to slow him down, and he and (Jordan) Clarkson ended up with 70 points between them.
We have had now two games where teams have shot 50 percent against my team. I bet if you look over my 20 years of coaching for back-to-back 50 percent shooting nights, I can't imagine that it's happened against my team, but it did, and LSU and Missouri are both tremendous basketball teams.
Missouri head coach Frank Haith
We're coming off a tough loss here on Saturday against a very good Kentucky team. Our guys played extremely hard and competed. Kentucky played great, particularly the Harrison twins. Going back to look at it, their performance was outstanding. We have two difficult challenges ahead of this week playing two road games, starting tomorrow night against one of the best teams in the country, Florida, and then at Ole Miss, probably one of the hottest teams in our league. It's going to be a great challenge for us this week.
On standing in NCAA Tournament projections:
I have not paid attention to it. I know we have some opportunities in our conference to continue to improve our resume. We have to take care of business and do what we need to do to give ourselves a chance to have our name called out on that Sunday.
On freshman guard Wes Clark:
He's getting more and more comfortable as all freshmen do, as they get more court time and get more used to the speed of the game. We're seeing Wes be more confident and get a better feel for what he can and can't do in a game of this level. Because of that, it makes us better with his improving.
2013 World Championships,
2016 Summer Olympics,
Alabama Crimson Tide,
Armintie Price Herrington,
BBVA Compass Bowl,
Be The Fan,
Billy Van Devender,
Cal Ripken Senior League,
California Collegiate League,
Cape Cod League,
Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge,
Chucky Mullins Award,
Colorado Springs Sky Sox,
Dr. Jamil Northcutt;,
Engineers Without Border,
ESPN College Gameday,
Evan St. Laurent,
Florida State Seminoles,
Florida State Soccer,
Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl,
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From The Vault,
Georgia State Baseball,
Give To Athletics,
Hard Core Fighter,
Jackson Touchdown Club,
Jeff Scott Hugh Freeze,
Lock The Vaught,
Los Angeles Sparks,
Mai El Kamash,
mary ashton nall,
Mary Ashton Nall,
Meet The Rebels Day,
Mississippi State Basketball,
Mississippi State Men's Basketball,
Mississippi State Women's Basketball,
Mississippi State Women's Hoops,
Music City Bowl,
National Signing Day,
NCAA Baseball Tournament,
NCAA Doubles Final Four,
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NFL Draft Combine,
NFL Pro Bowl,
NFL Scouting Combine,
Nike Asia Tour,
North Carolina State,
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Ole Miss Women's Golf; Katie Voll,
Ole Miss Women's Golf; Katilin Voll,
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