The Ole Miss Rebels were a respected program with Archie Manning under center, but stunk the majority of the time afterwards until his youngest son, Eli, arrived on campus.
Following the younger Manning’s departure, Ole Miss again fell to the back of the SEC pack. That is, of course, until yet another person came along and raised the Rebels’ football program from the depths of the bottom of the conference standings.
However, the latest savior of the program is not lining up under center, and, luckily for fans in Oxford, he should be around for far longer than simply four years.
After Houston Nutt ran the team into the ground, getting kicked to the curb after a 2-10 2011 season, Hugh Freeze was brought in from Arkansas State. In just his first season at the helm, Freeze rattled off seven wins, including the most important of the year, against Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.
Now, however, Freeze is presented with a challenge off of the playing field. Should he prove successful, he may have built the foundation to make his program successful for years to come — no Manning necessary.
The nation’s top overall prospect, as well as the best players at two other positions, are all headed to Oxford in the same weekend.
John Talty of the Memphis Clarion-Ledger puts the urgency and importance of the upcoming weekend into words.
“The Rebels are hosting an unprecedented group of top-ranked recruits on official visits that includes Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson), the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), the nation’s No. 1 offensive lineman, and Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee), the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver who has already verbally committed to Ole Miss.
“This weekend represents Ole Miss’ best chance at landing a top-10 national recruiting class after months of buzz and hype surrounding the Class of 2013.” Talty writes.
As of writing, Ole Miss comes in as the No. 21-ranked class nationally. Treadwell has already verbally committed to play for the Rebels, but he has yet to sign anything. Having him excited about the football being played there, however, may be a great way of convincing Nkemdiche and Tunsil to come aboard as well.
Nkemdiche’s brother, Denzel, led the team in tackles as a redshirt freshman linebacker in 2012.
If all three do commit, the haul will be absolutely unprecedented in the history of the program. The heat is on Mr. Freeze, so to speak, with the eyes of the rest of the SEC and the nation looking on.