Rebels Land Back-To-Back Top-15 Classes

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Head coach Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss football program signed another top-15 class Wednesday.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Head coach Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss football program signed another top-15 class Wednesday.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Feb. 5, 2014

Signing Day Central | Signee Bios | Video: Press Conference | Press Conference Transcript Get Acrobat Reader | Photo Gallery | Finished Storify Feed

OXFORD, Miss. — After assembling a consensus top-10 signing class a year ago, the Ole Miss football program hauled in a top-15 class for the second straight year Wednesday. Headlining this year’s class are 14 high school and junior college All-Americans and the top four high school players in the state of Mississippi.

“I’m thrilled with our class, like every coach would stand and say today,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “Our coaches did a phenomenal job in building relationships with the prospects and their families and significant others that can stand the onslaught of the recruiting process. It’s definitely a grind and a challenge. The last couple of weeks are always extremely anxious moments.

The major recruiting service rankings currently list Ole Miss at No. 14 (247Sports.com), No. 18 (Scout.com and ESPN.com), and No. 19 (Rivals.com). It marks the first time in school history to record back-to-back consensus top-20 classes dating back to the first recruiting rankings in 2002.

Among the 14 All-Americans are four U.S. Army-All America selections in defensive back C.J. Hampton, offensive lineman Christian Morris, wide receiver Markell Pack and offensive guard Jordan Sims. There were also three Under Armour All-America selections in defensive lineman Garrald McDowell, offensive lineman Rod Taylor and kicker Gary Wunderlich.

The 26-player class includes 18 players rated 4 stars or higher by at least one recruiting service, including 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.

“I hope we can redshirt more kids than we were able to the last two years,” Freeze said. “That’s a sign we’re headed in right direction and getting kids more maturity before they have to hit the field. Last year, we had some top-heavy guys that got a lot of attention. We were also able to evaluate correctly guys like Evan Engram and Derrick Jones. This class, we might be better top to bottom.”

The Rebels pulled in prospects from nine different states, including Mississippi (12), Georgia (three), Alabama (two), Florida (two), North Carolina (two), Tennessee (two), Illinois (one), Louisiana (one) and Texas (one).

By the position, the Rebels welcome to the program six offensive linemen, five defensive linemen, three athletes, three linebackers, three defensive backs, two wide receivers, one quarterback, one running back, one tight end and one kicker.

“We’re close,” said Freeze of the roster’s depth. “I consider it two classes because the first year I had three weeks before signing day. After three full recruiting years, we should have our roster to where you look at it and feel this is an SEC roster. We’re definitely a lot closer.”

The jewel of this year’s class is Taylor, the consensus top-rated prospect in Mississippi and listed No. 1 on the Clarion-Ledger Targeted 22 list. He is also listed as a 5-star prospect, the No. 1 offensive guard and the No. 25 overall player in the country by 247Sports.com

“Rod Taylor is as good as I have ever seen in drill tape,” Freeze said. “You may watch a game tape and you may say he doesn’t look as good as this guy, but you go watch a drill tape. I don’t know if I have ever seen a guy any better than his feet in those things. That means a lot more to me.”

Led by Taylor, the Rebels hauled in the top four high school players in Mississippi, according to 247Sports.com. Joining him are Hampton, Pack and defensive lineman Breeland Speaks. Each of those three players is also a consensus four-star recruit, as well as defensive back Tee Shepard.

“We set out a goal to capture our state and the top guys in it, first, and then identify positions of need,” Freeze said. “We were able to accomplish both of those things in this class. It added significant depth to our young football team, particularly at certain spots.”

Ole Miss continues to build depth and helped fill immediate needs by signing five junior college players, as well as adding offensive lineman Christian Morris, a mid-year transfer.

Among the junior college players are Akeem Judd, the nation’s No. 1 junior college running back by Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com.

“We think the junior college route solved some immediate needs, like at middle linebacker with Christian Russell, and a big, physical tailback with Akeem Judd,” Freeze said. “We decided we needed another corner about a week ago and we were able to get a great talent like Tee Shepard to join us. At offensive tackle, we added Fahn Cooper. Those are positions that were of great need for us.”

The nation’s No. 1 JUCO cornerback by 247Sports.com and the No. 2 JUCO cornerback by ESPN.com, Shepard was one of the few signing day surprises for Ole Miss, flipping his commitment from Mississippi State to Ole Miss. Otherwise, it was a day with no bad surprises for Freeze and the Rebels.

“You come into it with your guys who have committed to you and you don’t have any bad surprises on that day,” Freeze said. “We were able to get through today without any, and it went pretty smoothly. We lost a few battles with some really good schools that we were in it at the end with some really good players.

“Our focus is totally on the players that we get because those are the Rebels and those are the ones who chose to come with us, and our concentration will be on the many, many great players. We got our team faster and deeper, and I can’t wait to get them here and get them on the field and get to practicing.”

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • Ole Miss, MSU Renew Rivalry on Hardwood

      Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      Ole Miss meets Mississippi State on the hardwood the for 250th time Wednesday, which makes it the most-played rivalry in the Southeastern Conference.  Like the rivalry in football, where the road team last won in 2010, the home team has... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Jan. 20-26, 2015)

      Monday, January 26, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 20-26, 2015Men's Basketball - Senior guard Jarvis Summers scored 4 points in the final 26.6 seconds to lift Ole Miss to a 72-71 victory over Florida Saturday. Summers scored a team-high 16 points, including... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Jan. 25

      Sunday, January 25, 2015 - Athletics

      Classes started on the Ole Miss campus this past week, as the men's and women's basketball teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. Some of the spring sports have started their 2015 seasons, while others are gearing up for... read more

    • Prewitt Caps Impressive Week at Senior Bowl

      Sunday, January 25, 2015 - Football

      Former Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt capped an impressive week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, with a game-high five tackles in the game itself Saturday. His former teammate, cornerback Senquez Golson sat out the game with a hamstring... read more

    • VIDEO: Home is Ole Miss

      Friday, January 23, 2015 - Football

      Ole Miss Football: Home is Ole Miss from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss Baseball Omaha Challenge

      Friday, January 23, 2015 - Baseball

      The Season: Ole Miss Baseball: Omaha Challenge 2014 from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Rivalry Game with NCAA Tournament Implications

      Thursday, January 22, 2015 - Women's Basketball

      Ole Miss closes out a three-game stretch in which they will have faced three consecutive ranked opponents when they welcome No. 18 Mississippi State on Thursday night. The Rebels are 1-1 through the first two games of the stretch, having... read more

    • Prewitt, Golson Impress at Senior Bowl Practices

      Thursday, January 22, 2015 - Football

       Photo GalleryCody Prewitt and Senquez Golson will represent Ole Miss in the Senior Bowl, which will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. CT from Mobile, Alabama, and will be televised by the NFL Network. The duo have already had a busy... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Jan. 13-19, 2015)

      Monday, January 19, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 13-19, 2015Men's Basketball - Ole Miss thrashed No. 19 Arkansas 96-82 on Saturday. The Rebels picked up their first true road win over a ranked opponent since 2003 and scored the second-most points ever... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Jan. 18

      Sunday, January 18, 2015 - Athletics

      The Ole Miss men's and women's basketball teams both made some history, while the men's and women's tennis teams started their spring seasons. National Signing Day (Feb. 4) and the start of baseball season (Feb. 13) are less than a... read more

    • Key Stretch Starts with Tough Test in LSU

      Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      After an up-and-down non-conference slate that included wins over Creighton, Cincinnati and Oregon, all away from home, and losses to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky, both at home, Ole Miss learned a lot about itself in the first week of... read more

    • Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 Rankings

      Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - Football

      Ole Miss football finished the 2014 football season with a 9-4 record and a top-20 final national rankings in both polls. The Rebels come in at No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 19 in the Amway Coach... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Jan. 6-12, 2015)

      Monday, January 12, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 6-12, 2015Women's Basketball - Ole Miss went 2-0 on the week with a road win at Florida and a win at home against Alabama, moving to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in SEC action while... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Jan. 11

      Sunday, January 11, 2015 - Athletics

      The Ole Miss men's basketball team opened SEC play, while the Ole Miss women's basketball team continued SEC play, as we enter the heart of college basketball season. Over the weekend, the men's and women's teams posted wire-to-wire wins on... read more

    • Rebels to Open SEC Play ' in Grand Fashion'

      Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      Ole Miss looks to reverse history, as the Rebels (9-4) travel to No. 1 Kentucky tonight (6 p.m., SEC Network), the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Ole Miss is 0-15 all-time against the nation's top ranked team, last playing... read more