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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Freeze wasting no time with recruits

BLOG: There wasn’t a lot of new information coming from the Mississippians playing in Saturday’s Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.

One thing was for sure, however.

If new Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is interested, he has already been in contact.Literally every Ole Miss target I talked to said the former Arkansas State coach — or a member of his new staff — has called at least once.

North Pike defensive end A.J. Jefferson said he’s familiar with the new staff because they were recruiting him while in Jonesboro, Ark.

“He called almost every night this week. That shows they’re really interested,” said Jefferson, who registered two tackles-for-loss in Mississippi’s 31-12 loss to Alabama.

Asked what makes Freeze an effective recruiter, Jefferson said it’s his no-nonsense attitude.

“He’s going to be real with you and shoot you straight,” he said. “He’s not going to beat around the bush. He’s going to tell you how it is and if you don’t like it, just deal with it.”

Jefferson said he’s still trying to decide if he wants to stay in state or go out of state and listed off Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi, Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette as possible destinations.

ONE MORE TO GO: South Panola standout defensive lineman Issac Gross showed his ability to disrupt an offense on Saturday, racking up three of Mississippi’s 20 tackles-for-loss.

The long-time Ole Miss verbal commit said the new staff wasted no time contacting him.

“I heard from him from him the night he was hired and the next night I heard from (Chris Kiffin),” he said. “They just told me they’re glad to have me on board and they’ve watched film on me and the door is still open.”

Gross said other schools have pretty much laid off of him, although he did say Mississippi State has been in contact.

Gross is scheduled to play in the Under Armor All-Star Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 5.

STRONG COMMITMENT: Like Gross, fellow South Panola Tiger Temario Strong is a long-time Rebel.

While Gross said he was still planning on taking visits following the U-A Game, it seems like Strong is more definite in his commitment to the Rebels.

“We talked to Coach Freeze and I’m looking forward to getting to know him,” Strong said. “When we get settled in back in Batesville we’ll talk to him and get to know a lot about him.”

Strong said no other schools have been in contact with him.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound defensive end/linebacker was fifth on the team with five total tackles. He also had one sack and three tackles-for-loss.

In case you missed it, HERE is a link to Friday’s recruiting roundup with tidbits from Pearl receiver D.J. Thompson and Long Beach linebacker Richie Brown.

STANDOUT TIGER: Not that it pertains to Ole Miss specifically, but I talked to Auburn commit T.J. Yeldon following his MVP performance.

Yeldon said he plans to enroll at Auburn in January and get a jump start on his collegiate career.

“I’m very excited to get in there and get in the weight room,” he said.

Yeldon was very appreciative of the job his offensive line did on Saturday, helping to pave the way for his three touchdowns and 116 yards.

Rivals.com rates Yeldon as a 5-star prospect and the No. 3 running back in the country, while Scout.com considers the Daphne, Ala., product a 4-star recruit.

QUICK HITS: A couple quick observations from the game: Petal QB Anthony Alford didn’t impress me like I anticipated. The absence of Olive Branch QB Todd Mays put all the weight on Alford’s shoulders and for much of the game he was scrambling for his life. I thought the several times he was able to set his feet and throw he wasn’t as accurate as I had expected him to be. As Water Valley coach Brad Embry pointed out, it’s difficult for receivers and quarterbacks to build much chemistry when they’ve only known one another for five days. Alford completed just 5 of 15 passes for 58 yards and was sacked three times… Not sure to credit Alabama’s D-line or Mississippi’s O-line for the lack of a rushing attack for the Mississippians. The “home” team finished the game with a grand total of 2 yards on 21 credited attempts… Early in the game Rosa Fort defensive back James Northern impressed me. He blocked a punt deep in Alabama’s territory that eventually led to a field goal, laid a few licks on Alabama receivers and ended up with five total tackles… I was curious to see Brown in person and he didn’t disappoint. The Long Beach LB had a game-high 12 total tackles and made plays sideline to sideline. He also got a little time at fullback following the blocked punt… Lafayette running back Demarkous Dennis didn’t get much of a chance to get his feet wet and finished the game with negative-7 yards rushing on two attempts. He also made one catch on a screen pass for negative-1 yard… Aberdeen DE Channing Ward was a big help to the pass rush and ended up with 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and three total tackles… Former Brookhaven standout and Alabama RB/LB Jimmy Johns was Mississippi’s honorary captain and spent the whole game on the sideline acting as an additional coach. Johns, who was dismissed from the Crimson Tide and spent 13 months in jail for drug-related charges, is currently selling cars in Brookhaven but hopes to get a crack at the NFL this offseason when he’s eligible to tryout.

Checkout Monday’s print edition of the EAGLE for a complete roundup from the weekend’s festivities. (December 11, 2011)

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