COLUMN: Signing players from the state of Florida over the last few seasons has been a big point of emphasis for Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt and recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn.
The 2011 signing class included four players originally from the state, while the 2010 class had five signees. Since Vaughn has been at Ole Miss, the Rebels have landed 22 players that are Florida natives, including three from his hometown of Tallahassee.
There is always an abundance of talent in the state, and the 2012 class is no different, especially at a need position for the Rebels, defensive back.
Chris Nee, who covers recruiting in the state of Florida for Rivals.com, said it’s a loaded year for defensive backs in the state as well as a good year to land defensive ends and defensive tackles, two other spots the Rebels need to add talent.
The spring evaluation period may still be over a month away, but Nee has been busy tracking players at various camps so far.
Vaughn has been efficiently active in Florida identifying prospects for the upcoming signing class and his reputation for being a straight-shooting recruiter in the state is well documented.
“Coach Vaughn is well liked by the players and coaches. I know that (Miami Southridge DB) Gerrod Holliman liked him a lot. He ended up signing with Louisville, but I think it speaks very highly of the job Coach Vaughn did recruiting him and other players,” Nee said. “South Florida is a hotbed of talent every year and Coach Vaughn has been able to put Ole Miss on the forefront of kid’s minds. He does a good job, he’s honest and I think everyone thinks highly of him.”
Nee said the Rebels have offered several highly regarded players such as Miami (Norland) linebacker Keith Brown (6-foot-1, 208 pounds), who is currently committed to the Hurricanes, Miami (Columbus) defensive back Deon Bush (6-1, 180, 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash), Tampa (Jefferson) defensive end Tyriq McCord (6-3, 209) as well as West Boca Raton linebacker Jawand Blue (6-0, 195).
Nee said Ole Miss was the third school to offer Blue, along with Virginia Tech and East Carolina, but he is a player the Rebels could land because he has not been offered by schools such as Florida, Florida State or Miami, which is much closer to his hometown.
Nee added that Blue has good speed and played well at the recently held Miami Nike Football Training Camp. Nee said Blue is in the discussion as far as being one of the top three or four linebackers in the state and his stock could rise during spring drills.
Bush is arguably the top defensive back in the state and will be likely selected to all of the national watch lists. He lists offers from some 30 schools, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee as well as Miami and Florida State, just to name a few. Nee said Bush is very versatile, a long, rangy safety who shined in 7-on-7 drills as a member of the South Florida Express as a sophomore last March.
Junior Day visitor
A defensive back who is scheduled to take part in Ole Miss’ Junior Day this weekend is Jacksonville (Bartram Trail) defensive back Jolen Briggs (5-9, 185, 4.5). Briggs does not currently have an offer from the Rebels, but he appears receptive to investigating Oxford and the Ole Miss program further and may possible receive an offer if he performs well in the drills this weekend.
Nee said Briggs, who made 46 tackles and broke up five passes last year, has decent speed and is a good overall player who is flying more under the radar screen than other defensive backs in the state.
Tallahassee’s T.J. Davis (6-0, 175) is a defensive back that garners an Ole Miss offer and a player that Nee feels the Rebels have a shot with because he attends Vaughn’s former high school, Godby. Nee said Davis, who lists offers from virtually every SEC school, has great hips, speed and an overall good talent base to work with.
An offensive player who is on Ole Miss’ radar screen from the South Florida area is Miami (Jackson) wide receiver DeAndre Jasper (5-11, 180). Jasper has eight offers, but Auburn is the only other SEC school currently vying for his signature. (March 31, 2011, Page 6)