NCF On The Trail: Ole Miss Rebels

Top sleeper commits: SEC 

December, 19, 2014
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Five-star and ESPN 300 prospects create the most buzz, but with more than a hundred FBS programs competing for talent it takes more than just those top-rated prospects to have success. Rosters are built largely with prospects which enter college with little fanfare, but their development and contributions are key. Every year we see prospects that flew under the radar but developed into some of their conference's top players.

Throughout our evaluations we've come across many players who show promise and are great additions based on their upside for development and/or scheme fit.

Here are five commitments in the SEC that we feel are unheralded, but great additions worth keeping an eye on.

Midterm junior college signing day winners are headlined by Ole Miss and Oklahoma, but they weren’t the only programs that improved Wednesday.

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Midyear additions: Ole Miss

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17
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Four junior college prospects have signed national letters of intent with Ole Miss, according to the program's official site OleMissSports.com:

Tony Bridges, CB
HT: 6-1 WT: 185
Positional Rank: #1 CB (JC)
Stars: 4
ESPN JC50 (#8)

Terry Caldwell, ILB
HT: 6-2 WT: 220
Positional Rank: #2 ILB (JC)
Stars: 3

Chad Kelly, QB-DT
HT: 6-2 WT: 215
Positional Rank: #1 QB-DT (JC)
Stars: 4
ESPN JC50 (#29)

D.J. Jones, DT
HT: 6-2 WT: 310
Positional Rank: #1 DT (JC)
Stars: 4
ESPN JC50 (#3)
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A flurry of commitments and decommitments has led to considerable movement in the latest class rankings update. Several top-10 programs added ESPN 300 prospects, including Tennessee, which picked up top-10 ILB Darrin Kirkland Jr. The Vols already have a class that features a talented group of defensive linemen, and have now added a big, powerful inside linebacker that can develop into a tough downhill run-stopper. Butch Jones now has Tennessee in contention for a second-straight top-five finish.

Outside the top 10, USC landed a verbal from in-state tight end Tyler Petite, a tall, lengthy prospect with the size, speed and leaping ability to potentially create mismatches as a receiving target at the position. After landing the former Duke commit, USC's class features eight ESPN 300 prospects.

Ole Miss also saw a move up in the rankings with a pair of additions. The Rebels landed ESPN Junior College 50 QB Chad Kelly, a player who is physically gifted enough to be a strong candidate to replace QB Bo Wallace, a one-time junior college transfer himself. Ole Miss, who not sits at No. 17, also landed ESPN 300 OT Michael Howard. He is a lean OL prospect that needs to fill out, but is an athletic and tenacious player and with development could end up being a real strong pick-up out of Florida for the Rebels.

Inside the rankings

Coach Art Briles has had two very distinct luxuries when it comes to recruiting in today's complicated landscape -- recruiting in the shadows and recruiting without pressure. Both are actually in many ways, one in the same. As Briles has built this program, he's been able to do it his way without public pressure or booster interference because early on, nobody thought it could be done and nobody cared.

This staff was able to go after who they wanted, on their own timetable and without much scrutiny. In today's recruiting world, that's a huge luxury. Players like Levi Norwood, Antwan Goodley or Tevin Reese, who was a late qualifier, were all bypassed by other Power 5 programs, but nobody even noticed Baylor signed them or griped, "who are these guys" on signing day.

As a result, prospects like these were brought along at a normal pace and developed properly by the coaching staff. Redshirting the bulk of the classes for the first few years has also been huge for the Bears. The challenge going forward will be dealing with increased program exposure and expectation level which almost always brings with it increased recruiting scrutiny from boosters and fans alike. But the Bears don??t need to change a thing.



To see the full class rankings, click here.

Scout's Take: Michael Howard to Ole Miss 

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
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Ole Miss's latest addition in the trenches, ESPN 300 OT Michael Howard, will need to develop physically, but he has the athleticism and attitude to become an excellent tackle at the next level.


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Ole Miss has a glaring need at quarterback in 2015 with Bo Wallace out of eligibility and backups DeVante Kincade, Ryan Buchanan and others without the desired game experience. On Wednesday, Hugh Freeze and staff took a major step towards answering a key question picking up a commitment from ESPN JC50 No. 29 Chad Kelly.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

December, 9, 2014
Dec 9
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With Alabama winning the SEC championship on Saturday and the college football playoff now set, SEC schools can now turn their focus to recruiting. Despite there being only one game this weekend, there was still a bunch of recruiting news from around the SEC. There was a couple of big commitments, a few decommitments, a big decision date was announced and some important in-home visits. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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David Cutcliffe of Duke said young coaches should turn to Kenny Rogers for advice on how to get ahead on the recruiting trail. Plus, Florida's Jim McElwain has been busy since he was hired.

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Jordan Howard rushed for 1,600 yards at UAB this season, and now that the program has been shuttered, recruiters are lining up to get his transfer. Plus, with the Brady Hoke news, Michigan lost four-star tight end commitment Chris Clark. So where do recruits think he’ll end up?


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ESPN Juco 50: Battle to watch in the SEC 

December, 3, 2014
Dec 3
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The SEC is well represented in the debut of the 2015 ESPN Juco 50. An incredible 18 JC 50 members are committed to SEC schools including nine of the top 15 players. The top two players in the JC 50, both running backs, Jovon Robinson and Alvin Kamara, are committed to Auburn and Tennessee, respectively.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

December, 2, 2014
Dec 2
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There were some big games and a bunch of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. There was a big commitment, some coaching changes and key visitors for rivalry weekend. Here's a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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James Franklin comes up big again on the recruiting trail, playing a key role in landing talented cornerback Garrett Taylor. Plus, don’t be surprised if the silly season produces some major recruiting drama over the next two months.


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Whether recruits are attending games this holiday weekend or watching on television, all eyes around the recruiting world will be focused on several rivalry games. From the Iron Bowl to the Egg Bowl there will be recruiting implications throughout the conference this weekend. Here’s a closer look at how these game might affect the top remaining recruits.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
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As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. There was a big commitment, there were key visits and new offers over the weekend. Here's a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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Tale of the tape: Ole Miss at Arkansas 

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
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The Ole Miss at Arkansas game might not be the biggest game in the country on Saturday but it will feature two teams that are putting together solid recruiting classes. Ole Miss has the No. 22-ranked recruiting class in the country with only 14 commits. Arkansas, meanwhile, has the 19th-ranked class in the country despite only having 17 total commits.


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