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
    • Freeze, Rebels Focused on Auburn Showdown

      Thursday, October 30, 2014 - Football

      Not only will Saturday's matchup between No. 4 Auburn and No. 7 Ole Miss feature the first-ever meeting of top-10 team in Oxford, but it will feature half of the top four of the College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 9

      Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 9 -LSU (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Oct. 20-26, 2014)

      Monday, October 27, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewOct. 20-26, 2014Football- Ole Miss took its first loss of the season with a 10-7 defeat to No. 23 LSU in Baton Rouge.- The Rebels held LSU to 10 points and created four turnovers (two... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Oct. 26

      Sunday, October 26, 2014 - Athletics

      In this week's edition of Observations from the Best Seat in the House, Metz Camfield and I teamed up to give you our thoughts and opinions of the week that was in Ole Miss athletics. I was able to travel... read more

    • Rebels Fall Short in Death Valley

      Sunday, October 26, 2014 - Football

      BATON ROUGE, La. -- Ole Miss had its chances. The Ole Miss defense made seven points stand up for the better part of four quarters, forcing four turnovers and limiting LSU to just three points on its first three trips... read more

    • Three and Out: Ole Miss-LSU

      Saturday, October 25, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 3 Ole Miss travels to No. 23 LSU for an SEC West Showdown on Saturday. Stopping The Run Not just this year, but throughout head coach Les Miles' tenure, LSU's running game has been... read more

    • What They're Saying: Ole Miss-LSU Pregame

      Friday, October 24, 2014 - Football

      Ahead of a rivalry renewed on a national stage, complete with a visit of ESPN's "College GameDay" and the mystique of a Saturday night game in Death Valley, here's link roundup of videos and stories from local and national media... read more

    • Extra Emphasis on Special Teams Play

      Thursday, October 23, 2014 - Football

      Extra Emphasis on Special Teams Play Through the years, special teams play has provided a winning edge in the Ole Miss-LSU rivalry, and and you don't have to go all the way back to Billy Cannon's 1959 Halloween run. In... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 8

      Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 8 - Tennessee (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Freeze, Miles Talk Ole Miss-LSU Rivalry

      Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and LSU head coach Les Miles on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of Saturday's game in Baton Rouge.For the full SEC teleconference, go here.Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze (starts at 1:06:12... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Oct. 13-19)

      Monday, October 20, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewOct. 13-19, 2014Football- Ole Miss rode its dominant defense to a 34-3 homecoming win over Tennessee on Saturday to improve to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in Southeastern Conference play.- The Rebels are 7-0 for just... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Oct. 19

      Sunday, October 19, 2014 - Athletics

      It's Sunday, so that means it's time for this week's Observations from the Best Seat in the House. There was no shortage of observations surrounding the Homecoming festivities this weekend. Let's get into it:1. When "College GameDay" visits Baton Rouge,... read more

    • Winning Formula for Rebels is No Secret

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      The winning formula revealed itself as it has throughout the season: a dominant defense and a mistake-free offense. The Ole Miss defense forced four turnovers, while the Ole Miss offense did not commit a single turnover in a workmanlike 34-3... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-Tennessee Motivational

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss vs Tennessee Official Team Motivational from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Tennessee

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 3 Ole Miss faces Tennessee for Homecoming on Saturday.'Third Down for What'Tennessee is very dangerous, Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze said, because its talented, particularly if it gets momentum and confidence during... read more