HARVEY, La. — When Ole Miss announced self-imposed sanctions last month in response to the NCAA’s lengthy investigation into the program, media outlets from around the country and opposing fan bases speculated about the potential impact they will have on the Rebels recruiting going forward. After all, the school won’t be participating in a bowl this season and also faces the loss of four scholarships in both the 2018 and 2019 classes.
As of today, the school has yet to pick up its first commit in the 2018 class and sits last in the SEC recruiting rankings. But while it’s easy for those on the outside to weigh in on what exactly recruits are thinking, many prospects, especially those from Mississippi, seem less concerned.
"It doesn't really have anything to do with me,” three-star Olive Branch, Miss. Jaylon Reed, one of the Rebels top targets in the ’18 class, said. “I am not worried about it, my family is not worried about it, and it really means nothing to me. I still see them same way, I like the coaches there and I am still high on them."
Reed’s sentiment was echoed by several prospects the Rebels are currently recruiting when they were asked for comment at the recent Rivals 3-Stripe Camp presented by adidas in New Orleans.
“People want to say Ole Miss is going through a downfall right now, but if they look at other schools, there are things going on there,” four-star Columbia (Miss.) East Marion running back Jarveon Howard said. “What is happening at Ole Miss right now does not effect me or my interest in them. They can still provide an education for me and that is what is most important to me.”
Rivals.com Southeast recruiting analyst Chad Simmons, who covers the state of Mississippi, said the comments by players on Sunday are similar to what he has been hearing since the Rebels announced their self-imposed penalties.
“I've talked to a lot of prospects over the past few weeks and the response has been a little surprising,” Simmons said. “I think you'd expected to hear a little concern or some questions about the current state of the program, but there really aren't any based the feedback I've gotten from recruits.
“Hardly any Ole Miss recruits have shared any type of negative reaction to NCAA issues facing the program, which is great for the Rebels. Most, if not all, feel that this will not affect them due to them still having a year or two of high school left. All reaction has really been on the positive side.”
If 2018 prospects are showing a little concern, underclassman prospects are essentially showing none. That includes Class of 2019 Louisville, Miss., defensive end Charles Moore, who already holds an offer from the school.
“I am still an Ole Miss fan, so what is going on there right now doesn't bother me,” he said. “I’m an in-state guy, so I am still going to show love. Everything is cool with me. I still have two more years of high school, so it will all be over with when I sign. I did not really keep up with it that much because these type of things happen."
The one wildcard that could change the outlook and perspective of the Rebels recruiting targets are if additional penalties are announced, something that is still on the table. The NCAA still has to accept the Rebels self-imposed penalties and not impose any additional penalties, which is anything but a given.
“As long as the bowl ban is just one season, I don’t think it will have any real impact whatsoever on this class,” said Neal McCready, who covers Ole Miss for Rivals network at the team site RebelGrove.com “Why would it? Those kids aren’t losing a bowl trip. They’re playing their senior seasons this fall. Now, if the punishment is more severe, if there’s a two-year bowl ban, all bets are off.”