COLUMN: It’s hard to really predict how the Ole Miss Rebels will fare on the gridiron the next couple of seasons until we see how much the players have absorbed what Hugh Freeze and his staff have started to teach them in a live-game situation.
Coaching changes bring positive energy to the fans and players and a lot of people in between, but it’s hard to really know how everything is going to look and work out when a new system hasn’t truly been unveiled.
With all that being said, the verbal pledge from Jackson Prep quarterback Ryan Buchanan was a major boost for Freeze and his reclamation project of Ole Miss football. Much like how the Rebels are going to fare this year and in 2013, we don’t really know how good Buchanan is going to be. He may not adapt to college football, but he may be every bit as good as many believe he will be.
While we don’t all know Buchanan’s end result and impact on the program, what I can tell you — and what many fans have already grasped — is what his commitment means to the program at this point in time.
He is the biggest name on the board for the 2013 class, regardless of how many stars he has next to his name, because of what he can do for the program moving forward.
Buchanan has already started to recruit fellow players to Ole Miss much like wide receiver Donte Moncrief did for the 2011 signing class. Every school needs at least one — if not two or three — players that act as additional recruiters in order to ensure the class is a hit, but a quarterback being the main guy? It’s unbelievably special since they are already pegged as the leaders of the team. It’s one thing to have experienced assistant coaches in Derrick Nix and Matt Luke recruit the state, it’s another thing to have Buchanan helping them land standout wide receivers, running backs, tight ends and offensive linemen to help block for him in the future. In short, you get a standout quarterback working alongside of a staff in recruiting and interest increases tenfold.
Besides being an additional recruiter for this year’s class, Buchanan, by himself, is the biggest in-state recruit at QB for the Rebels since Romaro Miller signed with Tommy Tuberville out of Shannon in 1997. You hate to pin too much on any recruit, but the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Buchanan appears to have what it takes when you watch his film or see him in person and see that has the frame to be developed in a standout. You realize how insightful he is and special he is as a person after talking to him for a few minutes or seeing how he interacts with his family and teammates. Players don’t just get the scholarship offers like he has unless they have ability, especially at quarterback, the one position that decides so much each and every Saturday.
Buchanan’s commitment Monday afternoon was also important because it gives Freeze and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner at least one guy they can mold for four years. Ole Miss has had too many transfers the previous seasons, at a position that needs seasoning, to ever be good long term. Buchanan provides the program that one piece that’s been missing and with Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti already on the roster and a few years left to play, it also has to be a comfort to Freeze to know he doesn’t have to play Buchanan right away.
Buchanan can actually sit and learn the system before he draws live fire. I think we all know how important that fact is for the confidence and the development of a quarterback.
Buchanan’s signature in February will be the finishing touches to his recruitment, but he will be working for Ole Miss all the way through that point, both as a player for Prep and off the field as a recruiter. His verbal pledge has added additional energy to an offseason that has gone quite well for Freeze and his staff. It’s these facts that make recruiting important to a staff and fan base and why players with the ability and the charisma of a Buchanan have to be signed at all positions each and every year in order to survive in this conference.
–firstname.lastname@example.org (June 6, 2012, Page 1B)