McCready: Ole Miss’s signature day class assessment requires nuance

OXFORD – A few days elicit more overreaction than National Signing Day.

Unsurprisingly, Wednesday delivered.

Ole Miss knocked down Falentha Carswell from Miami and closed on four stars Tyler Banks and Jaron willis.

On the other hand, the rebels lost Clayton Jacarien to the state of Mississippi and was unable to close Percy Lewis, who also signed with the Bulldogs. Trevion Williams is also heading towards Starkville, and Jaheim Oatis stuck with Alabama despite a furious rebel race to land his considerable talents. Four-star defensive end Derrick moore, who visited Oxford last week, signed with Michigan.

Early Wednesday evening, Ole Miss was ranked No. 31 nationally by Rivals.com. How accurate are these rankings? I do not know. It’s a beauty in the eye of the beholder, but they’re probably at least a good measure of a program’s performance relative to its competition.

Among Southeastern Conference programs, including Oklahoma and Texas, Ole Miss has lost ground. Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M and Texas are ranked # 1 through 4. Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Auburn have been ranked Now. 10-15. Missouri was ranked No. 19 late Wednesday afternoon. South Carolina was # 21. LSU was # 27.

It should serve as an annual reminder that this league is an absolute beast, a ruthless monster that will never let you relax. Hell, Vanderbilt had a solid cycle by Commodores standards, ending the day 33rd.

It doesn’t matter what the rankings say or don’t say, however, this class isn’t a disaster. It is not representative of failure. The people who say that are way too dramatic, way too emotional. Frankly, it smacks of the agenda.

But – and this is where the Pollyannas are going to get mad – this isn’t a class as good as it should have been and it’s up to Lane Kiffin and all of her staff to figure out why.

First, a few caveats:

This was always going to be a class that relied heavily on the Transfer Portal, and those results are not yet known. Ole Miss is looking for at least a quarterback, a running back, multiple receivers, at least one offensive lineman, at least one defensive lineman and possibly a secondary assist in the transfer portal. On Wednesday alone, Ole Miss landed a pledge from former Auburn defensive back Ladarius Tennison, who picked the rebels over Missouri. Chances are overwhelming, the rebel transfer portal transport won’t stop there.

In other words, there are many unknown results, far too many to make radical judgments about the impact of a signature class.

“We’re anticipating a lot of movement there,” Kiffin said. “That’s why it’s a small class comparable to the number of scholarships we have. We were very picky. We had high standards. We haven’t reached.

Due to Covid and the possibility of players coming back for another year, it was always going to be a somewhat chaotic and unpredictable recruiting cycle. This has been verified. In a year where a ton of roster renewal was needed, filling in the roster holes was still a case of shooting erratically moving targets.

Still, this class should have been better. Kiffin has only had momentum since taking office at Ole Miss in December 2019. He has made Ole Miss football exciting and relevant. The Rebels opened the 2021 calendar year by winning the Outback Bowl over Indiana, lifted Covid regulations in time to have a steady recruiting cycle, then won 10 games for the first time in history of the program, culminating with a birth on January 1. Allstate Sugar Bowl vs. Baylor.

Ole Miss hosted Chamber of Commerce days for games against LSU and Texas A&M, giving rookies a taste of Oxford at its best. Ole Miss won both of those matches, and the aftermath was indeed a #PartyInTheSip.

“When you win, better players come in,” Kiffin said.

Still, while Wednesday was solid and absolutely included some future impact players, it wasn’t exactly overwhelming. And it left holes. Ole Miss wanted a quarterback in this class. He failed to sign one. He wanted to strengthen his defensive line. He signed Zxavian Harris but no one else.

Why not?

Part of it, certainly, is the name image and likeness (NIL). It might even be a big part of it. This week, on two media opportunities, Kiffin seemed frustrated – if not downright irritated – with what’s going on with NIL.

“You are in free agency,” Kiffin said. “There is no contract, so I really hope these kids get all the money that is promised to them in all these schools when they get there, because there is a lot of money promised. I hope for them that they will have understood it. Because these guys get promised all that money to come in but they don’t have a contract which in free agency obviously you would in the NFL where you get paid what you are told you going to get paid. “

Part of that, according to various sources, was just the personality. Kiffin’s laid back approach, which is so popular with his players and works so well with older players on the transfer portal, could work against him with high school kids, especially those who grew up in the South. Kiffin can be distant. He can also be short and to the point, and in a competitive world where first impressions really matter and opportunities are limited, that could work against him. Add in the ubiquitous rumors that he’s potentially leaving for a new job, the loss of an offensive coordinator late in the process and the vicious SEC’s small margin for error, and a few recruiting losses can cost a good class the chance. to be excellent.

And it’s possible that Kiffin doesn’t care about all of that. He may see the portal as a more important part of the list-building apparatus than others. Moreover, it is possible that Kiffin is at the forefront in this regard. Time will tell us.

“For me, the portal allows you more to do what we do, which is not reaching (and) not just adding numbers to add numbers,” Kiffin said. “Because now there are guys available and there will be more guys available after the ball games and there will be more guys available after the Spring Ball because they won’t like how it went.” past, as we saw a year ago. Previously, you only had one year of graduate transfer left. Now there are guys with four years of eligibility. For me you can replace (high school chess) even if it’s not first grade, but in a year get a guy with three years of eligibility and it would have been the same as this class.

In other words, Wednesday may have passed, but the recruiting never stops. It has always been the saying, but in this new era of transfer portals and NIL, it has never been truer.


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