Ole Miss

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze responds to criticism from St. Stanislaus' Conides

SAUCIER -- Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen of Mississippi State took a brief break from their busy spring schedules Thursday to participate in the C Spire Pro-Am at Fallen Oak golf course, but there was no escaping the hot topics surrounding their football programs.

For Freeze, it was being asked to respond to criticism from St. Stanislaus football coach Bill Conides for his recruitment of his players at the Bay St. Louis Catholic school.

For Mullen, it was a matter of being quizzed about the future of his top 2016 signee, Noxubee County defensive end Jeffery Simmons, who was recently charged with simple assault and disturbing the peace after a video surfaced showing him allegedly striking a woman.

Conides posted on Twitter Wednesday, “Dear @OleMissFB thanks for not offering my kids. I can’t wait for their teams to schedule you in the future. Get ready to get skull-drug.”

Freeze was careful not to directly respond to Conides on Thursday.

“I can’t comment on recruiting publicly about a school or coach,” Freeze said. “We haven’t even gone out for the evaluations yet. That starts April 15 or so and then we’ll have our camps. A lot of times in recruiting it’s not only how good a player is, it’s how many did you sign at that position last year.

“Evaluation of prospects is ongoing always.”

SSC has four rising seniors who hold scholarship offers.

Quarterback Myles Brennan has 15 offers, including Kentucky, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Tight end Chase Rogers, who is a Tennessee commit, also holds offers from Mississippi State, Wake Forest and California. Receiver Corbin Blanchard and tight end Darius Pittman also hold scholarship offers.

The Sun Herald’s Patrick Ochs contacted Conides on Wednesday to get an explanation for his tweet and he didn’t back down.

“Well, unfortunately for Ole Miss, folks in the SEC know what our young men can do and have offered,” Conides said. “It’s going to be sweet revenge on some Saturdays.”

Conides deleted his original tweet Thursday.

Simmons ordeal

Mullen told ESPN.com Wednesday that he wanted to see police reports before making a decision on how to handle the situation with Simmons.

On Thursday, Mullen said the decision is still on hold.

"We're still evaluating the situation," said Mullen, who is in his eighth year as the MSU head coach.

The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Simmons was rated a five-star prospect by multiple recruiting services. He led Noxubee County to back-to-back Class 4A state championships with wins over St. Stanislaus in the title games.

Hitting the links

Mullen and Freeze enjoyed their day spent on the golf course Thursday in advance of Friday's start of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, a PGA Tour Champions event at Fallen Oak.

Freeze was in the group that featured Esteban Toledo, a four-time PGA Tour Champions winner.

Their group finished an impressive 11-under despite the fact the event was shortened to nine holes due to wet weather.

"It was incredible," Freeze said. "Esteban is such a gentleman. I actually played really well. It kind of surprised me. It was a lot of fun. I had three natural birdies. It was a fun group. I'm honored to be a part of this."

Mullen was in the group that included Bernhard Langer, one of the best on the Champions tour and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

"I've been up and down a little bit. (The nine holes) wasn't the best, but that's OK," Mullen said. "It's just fun being out here playing with Bernhard. It's just an unbelievable honor to play with someone who has won two masters. That's big time."

Both coaches had to hustle back to Oxford and Starkville to direct their teams through practice Thursday afternoon.

Mullen's staff has actively recruited the Coast in recent seasons and currently has offers out to Rogers, Ocean Springs receiver Austin Williams and Gautier offensive lineman Paul Gainer.

"It's always been a huge priority to get the top players in Mississippi to come play for us," Mullen said. "(Long Beach products) Nick James and Richie Brown are going to be seniors this year for us. It's always important to get great players from Mississippi."

Ole Miss, which recruits more nationally, has had fewer players from the Coast in recent seasons. The most recent example is Pascagoula product Senquez Golson, who had an outstanding senior season in 2014 to help lead the Rebels to the Peach Bowl.

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