It started with commitments from safety C.J. Hampton from Meridian (Miss.) High School and defensive tackle Garrald McDowell from Covington (La.) High School.
Hampton, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 16 safety by Rivals, reaffirmed his pledge to the Rebels after he had decommitted just days earlier. Ole Miss was able to secure Hampton’s commitment after a strong push by Alabama.
“It came down to my family and talking to coach (Hugh) Freeze and looked at the depth chart and it’s a good position for me to go into,” Hampton said of his decision to choose Ole Miss. “Everybody knows Ole Miss isn’t the biggest winning program up here on the table, but I think I can go do something different and be a ball hawk and change it.”
McDowell is confident Ole Miss’ program is changing for the better. He pointed to the Rebels’ young talent, which includes defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, as a reason to choose Ole Miss over Arkansas and LSU.
“What I like about Ole Miss is it is a good, rebuilding program,” McDowell told RebelGrove.com. “Ole Miss has a winning program, a great staff and a great family around the community.
“My decision was very difficult. My family and I talked about it a lot and my heart said Ole Miss.”
Ole Miss received more fortune when Marquis Haynes became available. The defensive tackle from Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy committed to North Caroline but couldn’t get into school. Tar Heels coaches helped Haynes land at Ole Miss after North Carolina wouldn’t admit him.
“The UNC coaches told me to trust Ole Miss,” Haynes told Rebel Grove. “That helped my decision. I saw some similarities (between Ole Miss and North Carolina). That’s why it felt like home for me. All the coaches were there for me.”
The coaches will be happy to have Haynes on campus in January. He said the Ole Miss coaching staff believes he can help right away.
“They told me they need a speed rusher,” Haynes said. “That’s where I come into play. Right now, they told me I could get up the depth chart and on the field real quick.”
Ole Miss will continue to recruit several highly-touted defenders that would have a chance to help the Rebels immediately. Cornerback Terrence Alexander from New Orleans, linebacker Nyles Morgan from Crete, Ill., defensive tackle Elisha Shaw from Tucker, Ga., are all considering Ole Miss.
The Rebels have 24 commitments for the class of 2014, which is ranked No. 14 in the nation by Rivals. That’s ninth-best in the SEC and No. 5 in the SEC West.
There’s a lot of recruiting work to be done for Ole Miss, but the Rebels have made a strong move in the last week.
The latest on Cook
Florida will find out next week if it will hold onto the commitment of running back Dalvin Cook from Miami Central High School.
Cook, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 2 running back according 247Sports, has been committed to Florida since April. But he’s continued to consider Florida State and Miami.
Cook has made a final decision and told 247Sports he plans to announce it on Thursday at the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando, Fla.
“The whole school is based on you and your life, you got to make decisions for yourself,” Cook said. “In the whole school process, I feel I got to make the decision for myself. That’s it.”
Florida State running back Devonta Freeman, who attended Miami Central, wrote on Instagram on Wednesday that Cook has decided to attend Florida State. That hasn’t been confirmed by a media outlet.
Cook’s decision will be a significant one for Florida. He’s one of the Gators top commitments and is expected to battle for playing time this spring after he enrolls in school in January. Cook has made it clear he expects to help right away no matter which school he attends.
“My goal when I step on campus is the same thing I did at Central – go get it, go grind and don’t stop making my mark,” he said.
Humphrey sets announcement date
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey from Hoover (Ala.) High School will announce his decision on Feb. 1.
February 1st I will be signing my papers to play somewhere for the next few years of my life
— Fruit PUNCH (@marlon_humphrey) December 25, 2013
Humphrey won’t actually be able to sign papers until Feb. 5, but he will be able to announce his intentions. He plans to do so following the Alabama state indoor track and field finals, according to BamaOnline.com.
Humphrey, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 1 cornerback by 247Sports, is expected to choose between Alabama and Florida State. Alabama has received 95 percent of the votes in the 247Sports crystal ball predictions.
Humphrey is a key target among uncommitted prospects for Alabama. He’s the No. 1 prospect on the Crimson Tide’s board, according to Andrew Bone of TideSports.com. He wrote about Humphrey:
“Humphrey is in the same category as five-stars Dee Milliner and Dre Kirkpatrick in terms of skills as a defender. He is a physical player who knows the field. He has excellent length and does a great job of staying in the hip pocket of receivers. His size is one of his biggest strengths and the ability to match-up against bigger receivers. He has the speed and attitude college coaches want in a program.”
Humphrey is the son of Bobby Humphrey, who played running back at Alabama from 1984-87.
Lineman Calhoun chooses the Bulldogs
Mississippi State received a commitment Wednesday from offensive lineman Deion Calhoun from Restoration Academy in Fairfield, Ala.
Calhoun chose the Bulldogs after they offered him a scholarship last week.
“That meant a lot to me because it was the first SEC offer,” Calhoun told BulldogBlitz.com. “Coach (Geoff) Collins told me it was time to be a Bulldog. Since my high school team is the Bulldogs, I might as well stay one.”
Calhoun is the 18th prospect and fourth offensive lineman in the 2014 class to choose Mississippi State.