Posted: 11:59 pm Thursday, February 13th, 2014

High marks for Ole Miss with post-Nkemdiche recruiting 

By Michael Carvell

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has had a lot of success with recruiting Georgia (AP)

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has had a lot of success with recruiting Georgia (AP)

It shows you how far the Ole Miss football program has come in a short amount of time under coach Hugh Freeze when the Rebels have a consensus top 15 recruiting class this year, and pretty much nobody is surprised.

Last week, Ole Miss turned in a 25-member class, including four signees from Georgia — and finished with the nation’s No. 15 class in the 247sports.com composite rankings.

It was a stellar follow-up performance from 2013, when Ole Miss stunned the recruiting world with the No. 8 overall class, led by consensus No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche from Grayson High School. (Back in 2012, Ole Miss finished with the No. 46 class)

“I think coming off the year we had last year, we certainly benefitted from that notoriety,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze told the AJC on Thursday.

“It helped us get in early with some very good players. And the fact it wasn’t talked about as much, or didn’t carry as much headlines as the past year, I’m good with that. It shows that we have taken some steps forward with our program.”

This year’s biggest win for Ole Miss in Georgia was for Stockbridge High School cornerback Kendarius Webster. He committed early to the Rebels and declined heavy overtures from UGA, among others, in the final stretch before signing day.

“The last two weeks, you always get nervous about your higher-profile recruits when you know schools like Georgia, Florida State, LSU and Alabama are coming after them,” Freeze said. “We had that in several cases. I’ve got to give (assistant) Jason Jones a lot of credit, and the relationship he built with Kendarius over the last year while recruiting him. We had strong enough roots that really what won out in the end. You always get uptight about that. We have a great need at corner, and I think Kendarius is a phenomenal player. I think Kenderius gives us some length and speed at corner. So yeah, you’re are always concerned but I felt good about the positioning we had because of the job done by our job.

Ole Miss held off UGA for Webster (247sports)

Ole Miss held off UGA for DB Kendarius Webster (247sports)

How hard is it to hold off a home-state school for a home-state recruit when you are all the way in Mississippi?

“I think it would have been much more difficult if Georgia had put the same effort into it over a longer period as they did the last two weeks. Again, that’s their decision. But it would’ve been much tougher for us. We got Kendarius committed, and I think that meant something to that family. When Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt was hired, they had a good relationship. So that made the last two weeks a little more difficult. You know, Georgia has to make some tough decisions. There are so many good players in that state. They’ve got to decide, and sometimes that plays in our favor. I’m not sure which ones they are going after the hardest, if that makes sense.”

The other 2014 Ole Miss recruits from Georgia are Lovejoy High School linebacker Demarquis Gates, Sandy Creek High School defensive tackle Chris Williams and running back Akeem Judd from Georgia Military junior college.

Some other items from Freeze:

Now that you’ve coached him for a year, did Robert Nkemdiche deserve to be the No. 1 prospect in the country for 2013? Has he lived up to the hype?  “Yes, of course, I think so. The size-speed ratio he has is really unheard of. It’s very rare to that. Certainly, there are some aspects that he has to mature in, including the mental side. But that’s normal for freshmen. I think he was coming along nicely and then he had the injury that kept him out for five games. So it’s hard to accurately judge what kind of year he could’ve had. Now in the bowl game, he was phenomenal. It was the best game he had all year. I just think that whoever recruiting analysts are, they have to look at size-speed ratio and how that player relates to other players at that position. I can certainly see how everybody put Robert at No. 1.”

With last year’s class, you had some complaints about “negative recruiting.” How much of that was out there this year? “I didn’t experience as much this year. There was one school that always tends to pick the negatives that might go on at our campus, and make them to be more than they really are. But I can’t say like I felt like I experienced that with a lot of schools this year, so that is pleasing to me. Negative recruiting is not what we believe in. Our coaches know how I feel about it. We talk about us, and that’s it. We don’t talk about other people. So I hope that it’s a sign that it’s going to be reduced.”

How do you counter “negative recruiting” with prospects? “Usually it happens at the end of recruiting, when other schools are making last-ditch efforts. The relationships we have, they are based on trust and respect. They (the recruits) will give us the opportunity to be sure that the facts are true. I’m very upfront with the people we recruit. Some of the times, some of things that people say are true, and I tell them that. But they are probably true on a lot of campuses, you know? We try to be very open and truthful with them. Hopefully the relationships we have win out in the end.”

Which school do you feel like is “negative recruiting” against you? “I’d rather just leave it at that. I only felt like we dealt with one school on that issue this year.”

What’s your sales pitch to Georgia’s top 2015 prospects? “We’ve established some good relationships in Georgia, and there are so many SEC-type players there. I think the college campus that we have that is very similar to something that they’ve experienced in that state, so come check us out and come visit us. I think you will like what you see. I think you will like where we are headed. We’re ready to do something new and fresh here. Of course, we need great players to help us do that.  And that state is full of great players.”

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– By Michael Carvell, AJC’s Recruiting Blog

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29 comments
whydoyoucare
whydoyoucare

when are you gonna wake up Carvell.  You either report dated , subjective information that favors any school other than UGA or youre just plain incompetent.  I could write your pieces in 15 minutes.  Youre like the boob of college football.  good call on Lo carter.  You really should move on, oh yea  all you can get is crappy beat section of the AJC college recruiting section.   did you graduate college?

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

SteveJobs.....you may be the only one that thinks Al Golden can't coach.

SteveJobs
SteveJobs

Dang can't believe SEC-type players now means kids dumb enough to think Freeeeeeeeeeze is a decent coach.  He's the Al Golden of the SEC, but at a worse program. 

Borodave
Borodave

If you only want to read about UGA, have at it and ignore the rest.  Not to mention, having "Nkemdiche"in the headline probably got you to read the article.  Some of us want more than just Bulldogs news.  For instance, no article in the AJC far as I know, about the NCAA revising the hated 'targeting rule'; which should be of great interest to Dawg fans.  I guess since it's not strictly a Bulldawgs subject, you wouldn't want to read about it.


Lazy and late on offers?  You do realize there are probably 100 great players every year in the state and we can only sign 25-30 most years?  Repeat after me, "We can't sign em all."  Right now our "Big Board" has 4 committed and 13-14 targeted already for 2015.  And coach Richt has consistently signed top 10-15 classes.  Lazy?


If a NC is your only criteria for a program's success, you're in for many disappointing years.  The stars, schedule, luck, injuries, voters…a lot of stuff…have to align to win a NC.  Now we're even gonna have a committee decide who plays for it.  A NC is near-mythical in many ways.


At any rate, Freeze is becoming a force in recruiting in our state, and many Dawg fans are interested in that. 

LADawg
LADawg

It is big news when the Dawgs sign a a 5-Star in-state player. It should be virtually automatic! I live in Alabama and every year there is no doubt about where the best players in the state will go to school...it's either Bama or Auburn.

The Dawgs really have no in-state competition for the best-of-the-best. Due to the Dawg's staff laid back, "We'll take what's left" attitude toward recruiting the best-of -the-best wind up being poached by Bama, Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, and now, Ole Miss.

Every year at the close of signing day CMR comes out and says this recruiting class has got him more fired up than ever. If I was in his shoes, making millions and in a talent rich state like Georgia, there wouldn't be a day go by that I wouldn't be more fired up than the day before OR I would take it all for granted and be satisfied with the job security that goes along with an occassional 10 win season but mostly trips to second and third tier bowls.!

dawgs01
dawgs01

hopefully with the new defensive hires and bmac in charge of recruiting we will no longer be late on offers and be lazy about the recruiting process.  i know that in the past UGA was outworked by other programs when it comes to recruiting.  i have seen it firsthand with kids i know in the Atlanta area.  Since Pruitt has been there the intensity has been turned up on the recruiting trail.  I think all the damage Rodney G did is over now.  He really hurt us and he knew what he was doing when he relaxed on some kids then went after them when he left UGA.  I am almost certain we will get a great haul this yr.  With the in state talent this yr being similar to that of 2013, we should have no problem of landing a top 5 class if we bust butt.  There are great o line prospects in our own state this yr and some great D-ends/outside backers.

TU
TU

Despite Hugh's success, he seems to have difficulty attracting a big name QB. Behind Bo Wallace, there does not seem to much depth at that position. Maybe Bobo has one he can spare.


RandyHall
RandyHall

Sounds like a broken record...."If UGA had recruited him harder earlier....it would have been a tougher "sell" for us"....hope this changes with B-Mac in charge...a new recruting defensive staff...and CMR with the underlying pressure of a must win situation!!! TIME TO WIN A NC....CMR!!!

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

LowcountryDawg.....Yes that is true but doing the recruiting beat is a rather tough gig, especially in the off season.  I can imagine that MC must go the extra mile to give us story lines that his editor demands.  No newspaper I have ever read have I  ever considered being 'our paper'.  They give you both sides and slants on the subject and we are to decide where we want to be on the subjects.  Sure newspapers are either liberal or conservative but we know that before we read their content.  I think it is best that they remain neutral and not become cheerleaders for popular causes or teams. Leave that to the Editorial pages and their contributors.  Just my opinion.

MoistDawg
MoistDawg

its amazing what handing out cash can do for a schools class.  it seems to make players completly forget how there grandpa wouldnt have been even allowed to set foot on the campus because of the color of there skin.

OLD MI$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

ricojack
ricojack

high marks or more like high $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

LowcountryBulldawg.....you have a rather narrow view of journalism.

LowcountryBulldawg
LowcountryBulldawg

Personally I find it frustrating that last week out "local" paper propped up Mizzou now our "local" paper props up Ole Miss. Understand your job MC but these SEC HC will job at tge chance to talk to you so they can talkup their school. They are using you and the paper as a recruiting tool and you allow it. Disappointing.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

Hope he does well there, always was a big Archie Manning fan.

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

You forgot to ask Freeze one important question that he needs to pass on to all the players he is Recruiting.

HOW MANY FORMER PLAYERS ARE CURRENTLY PLAYING PRO BALL?

POAD2013
POAD2013

Ole Miss has a bigger stadium than Miss St and Vandy. So no matter how good they get he will GO to a better paying job if he can keep recruiting that good at Ole Miss.

With Kentucky basketball money and a bigger stadium they might want him and you know Arkansas can afford him.


I love hearing people talk about negative recruiting. They don't do it but they have experienced other teams doing it to their recruits. We just sell OUR PROGRAM and the Truth about What WE can do for a player. I'm not saying a Negative Recruiting pitch is a LIE it is just  telling a truth that is a little difficult for a recruit to deal with. I think all the coaches negative recruit on some factors. Again it is not a LIE just a not so pretty truth that may influence the recruit to see you school better than he may see another school.

POAD2013
POAD2013

It will be interesting to see how long Hugh can keep it up. He might be able to do it long enough to get a better job. I don't think he will make Ole Miss any better than they have traditional been i the SEC. They maybe better players and play better in the games but I doubt they will move higher up in the SEC pecking order no matter what he does. The 5th recruiting class he signs might be his last if he can still get good players. After that he could well be moving on to another school having done all he can do at Ole Miss.

thebucket
thebucket

@RandyHall Read the entire paragraph, "You know, Georgia has to make some tough decisions. There are so many good players in that state. They’ve got to decide, and sometimes that plays in our favor. I’m not sure which ones they are going after the hardest, if that makes sense.”

Mulk
Mulk

@MoistDawg You think it was only Ole Miss? Not many people of color were playing at southern schools back in the day.

LowcountryBulldawg
LowcountryBulldawg

No, I understand how the medium has changed w/ the internet. The AJC is no longer "our" paper. The AJC wants the clicks in Oxford as much as Atlanta.

MtVerndawg
MtVerndawg

@LowcountryBulldawg What you ay has an element of truth, but I enjoy reading about other schools, especially GT and SEC, and their programs.  On the flip side, it also gives potential recruits a hint of the better questions to ask GA recruiters.

BrownDog
BrownDog

Southeastern recruiting blog, Southeastern coaches, and it's not the job of a newspaper to prop up any school.

That said, glad to see Mark Bradley keeping Alabama in a prominent AJC headline. Michael, you haven't been reaching your quota lately. Don't make me put paper in your personnel file.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@C-Kirk  ZERO he has only been a Head Coach at Ole Miss HOW LONG? You are smart enough to know he hasn't been there long enough to have any of his recruits get to the NFL. 

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

@POAD2013 @C-Kirk  

Okay then , HOW MANY HAS MISSISSIPPI SENT TO THE NFL IN THE LAST 10 YEARS. HOW MANY ARE PLAYING RIGHT NOW? My point is I don't care who the coach is at Mississippi they will always be behind Alabama, L.S.U. , Texas A&M and AUBURN. Most every year , despite their best effort , they will end up 4 TH or 5 TH at best in the West Division because of the lack of DEPTH.  

OMRebel
OMRebel


@C-Kirk How about this list for ya:

Here's a list of former Ole Miss players currently playing pro ball. You should recognize several ProBowl players in the list.


Brandon Bolden - Patriots

BenJarvus Green-Ellis - Bengals

Greg Hardy - Panthers

John Jerry - Dolphins

Peria Jerry - Falcons

Kendrick Lewis - Chiefs

Eli Manning - Giants

Bobbie Massie - Cardinals

Trumaine McBride - Giants

Dexter McCluster - Chiefs

Michael Oher - Ravens

Ashlee Palmer - Lions

Jermey Parnell - Cowboys

Geralds Rivers - Rams

Jamarca Sanford - Vikings

Bradley Sowell - Cardinals

Chris Spencer - Titans

Micheal Spurlock - Lions

Cassius Vaughn - Colts

Mike Wallace - Dolphins

Patrick Willis - 49ers


NFL.com has that informationnext time you want to try to look your nose down at another program.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@C-Kirk probably true but these kids are not committing to the Old Ole Miss but the New Ole Miss coached by Freeze and things could be different and that is what he is trying to Sell.