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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Freeze discusses Ole Miss’ 2013 signing class

VIDEO BLOG: Wednesday was a big day for the Ole Miss football program and there’s really no way around it.

For a while now the Rebels have been rumored to be piecing together one of the country’s top signing classes, but that was all just talk.

Until Wednesday.

After a long morning of watches National Letter of Intent come across the fax machine, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze addressed the media to talk about his historic signing class. Below is Freeze’s opening statement:

In addition to talking about each signee individually, Freeze touched on various topics from the positive PR the team has received from being plastered all over ESPN today (and a tweet from the NBA’s LeBron James, no less…) to the criticism his program took for being able to sign several national targets such as No. 1 receiver Laquon Treadwell, No. 1 offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche and others.

Ole Miss ain’t messing around today! Big time recruits coming in. SEC is crazy

Freeze said he was shocked by the criticism, which led to his tweet stating that if folks have a problem with how Ole Miss is operating they should contact Ole Miss’ compliance office.

“If there’s something out there with some factual basis we would like to know,” he said, before adding that the shady business isn’t how Athletics Director Ross Bjork wants things done.

Freeze admitted the team lucked out in some cases (like already having Treadwell’s best friend, Anthony Standifer, on the roster; and having Denzel Nkemdiche, the older brother of Robert, turn into a team leader), but also was very strategic in how the various standouts were recruited.

In the end, Freeze said the team got LOIs from all but one player they were hoping for this morning. Whether that was Indiana defensive end Elijah Daniels (who flipped to Auburn this morning) or Houston High defensive end Chris Jones (who, after more than enough drama the last couple of weeks, signed with Mississippi State), Freeze didn’t say.

Asked how the incoming class looked academically, Freeze said of the 23 players that signed today he’s confident that all but two will qualify. Again, he didn’t specify who those two were.

Below are some other tidbits from today’s press conference:

—Freeze is happy with who he got from Memphis but said they were a ‘little late to the party’ on several other late targets.

—Today’s exposure/momentum is already helping with next year’s recruiting.

—The staff will look to target 10-15 national guys for next year… added he expects to look at Treadwell’s school again (hint, hint?).

—In addition to the superstars (Treadwell, Nkemdiche, etc.) Freeze said he’s almost more excited about the guys like Mark Dodson, Kailo Moore, Jordan Wilkins and others who are good prospects but haven’t been talked about nearly as much.

—Freeze said Nkemdiche’s mother told him a while back that if the program could muster up some excitement and buzz that it had a good shot at landing Robert’s signature.

—Freeze pointed to all the recruits-turned-recruiters (Treadwell, Ryan Buchanan, Nkemdiche, Derrick Jones, Herbert Moore, Quincy Adeboyejo, etc. The list goes on) for helping impact what could be one of Ole Miss’ most impactful classes in program history.

— Freeze called Nkemdiche ”arguably the crown jewel of the class. … His skill set is well beyond his years.”Freeze added that Nkemdiche will have an immediate impact.

—Freeze calls LB Marcus Robinson (6-foot-4) the perfect size for the SEC. Said he reminds him of Patrick Willis. (No pressure there…)

—While Nick Brassell is back at Ole Miss he still has work to do to qualify academically. Should he do that, Freeze said the former South Panola standout, who after a year at East Mississippi C.C. found his way back to Oxford, will play in the defensive backfield.

—Getting Tunsil’s mom on board with Ole Miss was crucial. “In the South, if you win the mom you’ve got a great chance.”

Lastly, Freeze called Jones a hidden gem of the class, adding that the Eupora WR can play either receiver or DB at Ole Miss.

For a complete list of signee bios, click HERE.

Pickup Thursday’s print edition of the Oxford EAGLE for complete coverage of Ole Miss’ 2013 signing class. (February 6, 2013)

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