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Oxford kicker Jack Tannehill decommits from Ole Miss, recruitment back open

For over a year Jack Tannehill has been verbally committed to becoming his hometown team’s future place kicker. That all changed on Tuesday.

The Oxford High School kicker announced on his Twitter account that he was decommitting from Ole Miss and is looking for a new place to call home next fall.

Tannehill actually reopened his recruitment back in January after meeting with Ole Miss special teams coordinator Blake Gideon. According to Tannehill, Gideon informed the Oxford kicker that Ole Miss would not be offering a scholarship to any kicker and pulled his scholarship, offerring a preferred walk-on spot in its place.

Tannehill, who verbally committed to Ole Miss in June of 2019, thanked former head coach Matt Luke and several of Luke’s assistant coaches at Ole Miss. He did not thank any current Ole Miss football coaches in his Tweet.

Communication was minimal with first-year head coach Lane Kiffin’s staff and Tannehill said he and Kiffin never spoke while still committed to Ole Miss.

“I hardly talked to coach Gideon and he’s the only one I talked to on the whole staff until I decommitted,” Tannehill said. “But, we hardly talked.”

Within an hour of Tannehill making his decision to decommit publicly on Tuesday, Kiffin seemingly found their new kicker for the 2021 class.

Caden Costa out of Mandeville, La. tweeted roughly 40 minutes later that he was committing to Ole Miss with a simple “Hotty Toddy” along with a statement attached to his tweet.

When Tannehill saw Ole Miss offered a scholarship to Costa he felt it was time to move on from his hometown school and see what other options were out there.

“That was after they told me they weren’t going to offer a scholarship to (any kicker), so I was like, ‘Alright, I shouldn’t let myself be in this situation anymore,” Tannehill said. “I reopened my commitment after (Ole Miss) pulled my scholarship. Just to make sure that’s what I wanted to do. Going to college as a preferred walk-on is a risk. It’s a risk people are willing to take, but there’s nothing for sure when you get there. Even for a scholarship kicker there’s nothing for sure when you get there. I just wanted to make sure I was going to go to the right place.”

Tannehill’s mailbox has not been empty since reopening his commitment. The incoming senior has heard from Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Southeastern Missouri State, Eastern Kentucky, Memphis and Liberty.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA has extended the recruiting dead period several times throughout the spring. The current dead period deadline is Aug. 31. That has left Tannehill having to speak with coaches via phone calls and other minimal ways of contact that is allowable during the dead period. He had visited some of the schools prior to the shutdown caused by COVID-19.

Colleges have not been able to hold kicking camps due to the pandemic, but Tannehill said he has gone to other camps this summer that have still be held.

“I have been on the phone and texting and trying to get recruited,” Tannehill said.

Tannehill now turns his attention to the upcoming 2020 season as the Oxford Chargers look to defend their Class 6A state championship. The pandemic has created uncertainty with how this year’s early signing period in December will go, followed by February’s traditional National Signing Day.

The senior Charger is not making any decision of which of those two days he will make a final pick for next year. It is all about getting it right the first time for Tannehill.

“I’ve just got to make sure whoever I play for is the right place,” Tannehill said. “Until I decide that’s the right place I can’t really make the decision.”

Oxford opens their season at Grenada on Sept. 4.