Monday, March 18, 2013
Ole Miss keeps rolling, lands OL Bauer
By Damon Sayles
Ole Miss has had plenty of reasons to smile in 2013. One highlight was the top-five recruiting class in football, including the signings last month of the No. 1 overall high school and junior college recruits from the 2013 class.
The string of success continued Monday morning when the Rebels picked up one of the top offensive linemen in the country in the Class of 2014.
Watch List lineman Andy Bauer (St. Louis/De Smet) gave Ole Miss his verbal pledge on Monday and became the seventh member of the Rebels’ 2014 recruiting class. Bauer, an Under Armour All-American who is entertaining nearly 40 offers, chose Ole Miss over programs such as Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Florida, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Washington.
Bauer, a 6-foot-6, 304-pound lineman, called the Ole Miss coaching staff Monday morning and gave them the news. He said the opportunity of helping a program on the rise and lining up against some of the best defenders the 2013 class has to offer -- including the nation’s top-ranked high school player, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson), and the nation's top-ranked junior college player, defensive tackle Lavon Hooks (Atlanta/Northeast Mississippi Community College) -- was too intriguing to pass up.
Bauer's comments show his confidence, and his ESPN scouting report shows he has the talent to back it up.
“That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, help a program get better,” Bauer said. “With the guys they brought in with their 2013 class, competition breeds excellence. Going against guys like Nkemdiche and Hooks, I’ll get to see those guys every day. It’s just another bonus.
“With everything, I felt Ole Miss was home to me. It feels like the weight of the world is off me now.”
Bauer’s recruiting process came to a conclusion after he originally committed to Missouri on April 7, but decommitted from the Tigers in November to explore other options. Recruited by offensive line coach Matt Luke, Bauer has visited Ole Miss multiple times, and he said he has grown to be a fan of Luke, strength and conditioning coach Paul Jackson and, arguably most importantly, head coach Hugh Freeze.
“I liked all the coaching staff, the family atmosphere and what Coach Freeze is doing there,” Bauer said. “I have so much respect for him. He recruited me extremely hard, and he’s a great person. The same think with Coach Luke; I talk to him every other day. The entire coaching staff is just phenomenal.
“The atmosphere in Oxford, I love it. It’s not too far from home, a little over five hours, and I get to compete in the SEC, which was another important aspect in choosing a school for me.”
Bauer, who is looking to go to medical school academically, said he will be an early enrollee. A tackle at De Smet, Bauer said he is being recruited as a guard. Bauer said he has been conversing with a couple of the 2013 commits in making a final decision. One of those players is five-star Ole Miss signee Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), the nation’s top-ranked offensive tackle out of high school.
“I talked to Laremy, and he told me to be different,” Bauer said. “That’s something that kind of stuck with me. I think we’re going to do something special there.
“What they’re doing over there is remarkable. There’s a certain allure to being a part of something fresh and different. I really believe in what they’re doing, and I believe we’re going to win. I’m fired up.”
Bauer is the third Watch List player and the second offensive lineman to commit to Ole Miss from the 2014 class.