Ole Miss

Ole Miss lands nationally-ranked class

 Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. AP

OXFORD - Signing day didn't end with the tidal wave Ole Miss coaches might have hoped for, but it ended with a good splash nonetheless.

The Rebels did not receive an advance public commitment from Starkville wide receiver A.J. Brown, but picked up his signature Wednesday.

Brown is ranked the No. 38 national recruit on 247Sports composite list.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze thought he was in good shape with a couple of other highly rated players, but five-star defensive end Jeffery Simmons, of Noxubee County, signed with Mississippi State. A handful of out-of-state players Ole Miss hoped to sign - defensive linemen Terrell Hall and Jonathan Kongbo, linebacker Mique Juarez and cornerback Shy Carter - also signed elsewhere.

The strength with the highly rated class rests with the work put in at the beginning.

Eight verbal commitments enrolled early including five-star players in quarterback Shea Patterson and defensive tackle Benito Jones.

The class also includes five-star offensive tackle Greg Little as Ole Miss works to replace NFL-bound junior Laremy Tunsil who could be the top pick in the draft.

"Losing Laremy you're looking for the best available, and we think Greg Little is that," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said.

Ole Miss finished with five players ranked in 247Sports' composite top 53 to lead a class ranked No. 6.

If the 2013 class put Ole Miss on the map this one could help it expand its territory.

"Looking on paper I think this one's deeper," Freeze said. "But that's just paper and potential."

The class has 24 signees in all, including prep school defensive back Myles Hartsfield, another early enrollee, who Freeze called the "sleeper" of the group.

Getting to the finish line also required navigating new land mines created by the disclosure last week that Ole Miss has received a notice of allegations letter from the NCAA.

Freeze spoke to last weekend's official visitors about the letter twice, and the group also heard from athletics director Ross Bjork.

"You share with them everything you know. Ross got to share also, which was good," Freeze said. "Any time you have an investigation that lasts as long as ours has, anything you self-report is going to be in those things, and that's pretty normal. You self-report things from year to year. Every school does it. We shared with them all of that."

Freeze said he is unsure if the timing of the letter hurt in some of the "50-50" battles for recruits, but "I would think it didn't help us for sure."

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