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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Recruiting Blog: Official visits coming to an end

Ole Miss’ largest  recruiting weekend, just before signing day Feb. 5, is winding down and coming to an end. Fifteen of the 21 official visitors that made it to Oxford were already verbal pledges, but thanks to a successful trip, it appears each one have made it clear they want to remain a Rebel.

Junior college running back Akeem Judd said choosing Ole Miss was the best decision he had made in his life. The Georgia Military College product gives coach Hugh Freeze a more hefty runner (220 pounds) to use in the offense in 2014.

Other players such as Jackson Callaway offensive lineman Rod Taylor have re-affirmed their pledges. Taylor’s teammate at Callaway, DE Breeland Speaks, was also on the trip, a week after visiting LSU. Ole Miss re-affirming a pledge from him was very important.

There were six players on the trip not committed to Ole Miss. They include: D.J. Law of Haines City, Fla., WR/KR Isaiah McKenzie of American Heritage in Plantation, Fla., Sean Rawlings, OL, from Madison-Ridgeland Academy, Jordan Sims, OG from Homewood, Ala., Terrance Alexander, CB from John Curtis High in La., and DT Michael Sawyers of Ensworth High in Nashville, TN.

Sawyers (6-3, 307) was a verbal pledge to Vanderbilt prior to James Franklin’s departure for Penn State. He has remained an Ole Miss target throughout, although his interest level picked up once Franklin left. Sawyers visited Georgia Tech last weekend, and was possibly considering a trip to Notre Dame prior to his Ole Miss visit.

Rawlings has been committed to Mississippi State since the summer but it seems like that verbal pledge is dissolving. He was offered by Ole Miss this week — he grew up a Rebel fan — and a successful visit only enhances the Rebels’ chances.

Sims is a player that came to Ole Miss camp this summer and really been in the mix for the past month. He did pick up an offer late last week from Vanderbilt, but in an interview from earlier this month, Ole Miss was going to be tough to beat, especially with a successful official visit. Sims told me he was looking for a comfortable feeling from the school and staff, a place he could wake up every morning and feel like he made the right choice.

Alexander tweeted out a photo of himself in an Ole Miss jersey. Players are allowed to put on Ole Miss gear during their tour of the Manning Center and it’s not uncommon to see players tweet out such pictures. It appears that the visit did make an impression on the three-star CB, who is also being heavily courted by Stanford.

Law, who played running back in high school but is being recruited to play CB, told the Ole Miss Spirit’s Chuck Rounsaville that Ole Miss is now in the lead after a great official visit and that he would make his decision between the Rebels and Utah on Feb. 5. Law (5-11, 185) verbally pledged to Utah last November. Tennessee had shown a lot of interest but not any longer. In an interview with Law’s coach at Haines City, Ron Johnson, it was apparent that Ole Miss would be a major factor in his decision and only enhance its chances of getting Law with a great official visit, which is obviously the case.

McKenzie, who was hosted by WR Laquon Treadwell, is a burner who can make a big impact on special teams. The Miami Herald’s Larry Blustein said he was one of the top five returners he had ever covered in over 40 years of watching prep football in South Florida. His coach, Mike Rumph, in an interview late last week raved about McKenzie’s speed, heart and desire. Rumph, who played at Miami, even compared McKenzie to Santana Moss, who is still playing in the NFL for the Washington Redskins.

“The guy has a fifth gear and probably the quickest acceleration I have ever seen as far as start-stop,” Rumph said. “What people don’t know is he the third or fourth strongest kid on the team. He benches and squats and cleans with a lot of the big linemen on the team.”

  (January 26, 2014)

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