Three-Point Stance: Ole Miss; under-the-radar commits; SEC QBs
Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s thought-provoking Three-Point Stance is here with the return of Ole Miss to the recruiting world, some non-bluebloods landing big commitments and his thoughts on the potential of the SEC's current crop of QBs.
1. SIGNS OF LIFE AT OLE MISS
Ole Miss is back on the recruiting board. While the Rebels had two commitments prior to the middle of last week, the last six days have been good ones for Hugh Freeze and his staff – and much needed. Oklahoma defensive tackle Israel Antwine was a solid three-star get at a position of need for all programs. That was followed by a very good in-state commitment by defensive end Deuntra Hyman on Saturday and the biggest news of all, a four-star commitment from wide receiver Demarcus Gregory from South Carolina on Sunday. Throw in 2019 Texas cornerback Bobby Wolfe as well over the weekend, a big kid whose recruiting momentum has barely started, and you have a big weekend for the Rebels.
SEC opponents may bring the snark when talking about a couple of three-stars, a four-star and a 2019 who hasn’t been ranked yet, but make no mistake about it – this is a big deal for Ole Miss. The Rebels finished No. 39 in the country last year and ahead of only Missouri and Vanderbilt in the SEC after impressive team rankings the previous years (No. 7 nationally in 2016, No. 21 in 2015, No. 19 in 2014 and No. 7 in 2013), so any momentum is good for the program. While awaiting the NCAA hammer and after a very slow recruiting start this year, not to mention self-induced penalties, recruiting is as hard as ever in Oxford. Convincing players to jump aboard isn’t easy.
Hyman is not Robert Nkemdiche and Gregory is not Laquon Treadwell, but all of the commitments are crucial to show others that the Rebels are a valid option and that some prospects aren’t afraid of the pending punishment and want to make a difference regardless. I’ve been critical of Freeze in the past, while praising his recruiting prowess as well, and I know that every Ole Miss commitment for years will be greeted by opposing fans with snide remarks and dollar signs. But a big recruiting weekend in Oxford is a big deal no matter what you feel about the coach or program.
This Ole Miss staff has been very aggressive this spring and I expect a few more bits of good news to follow this summer.
2. NON-BLUEBLOODS REEL IN BIG-TIME COMMITS
I tend to talk more about the bluebloods of college football in my column and for good reason. Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Dabo Swinney, Jimbo Fisher, Jim Harbaugh, Bob Stoops and others recruit the best kids, they are in the news often and their programs have amazing followings. However, there are a few programs, call them non-bluebloods, that have landed some terrific commitments over the last few weeks. Here are a few that stand out.
QB Cammon Cooper, Washington State – The big lefty could put up crazy numbers under Mike Leach. Watch out.
WR Darryle Simmons, Virginia Tech – The Hokies are borderline non-blueblood with all the success under Frank Beamer and winning their division last season, but landing a four-star from Eastern PA is a big deal regardless of their stature.
WR CJ Moore, Oklahoma State – The Cowboys are on this list because they get overshadowed by Oklahoma in-state and by Texas in the Big 12, but Moore is the best commitment on this list. I love this kid’s upside.
3. POTENTIAL IS THERE FOR SEC QBS
I just read an article stating that the 2017 SEC quarterback group is among the elite in the country and I had to raise an eyebrow. I’d have to put the word “potentially” in front of elite.
The Pac-12 has the best quarterback group by far and the Big 12 and Big Ten can also make a strong case for being better than the SEC. The ACC would have had a case if a few guys such as Je'rod Evans and Brad Kaaya stuck around like they should have. The potential in the SEC, however, is off the charts.
Austin Allen (Arkansas), Danny Etling (LSU) and Drew Lock (Missouri) are solid guys, but the real potential in the conference lies in Jacob Eason (Georgia), Shea Patterson (Ole Miss), Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State), Jake Bentley (South Carolina), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn) and Feleipe Franks (Florida). Heck even the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, has a long way to go to show he can be a downfield passer.
Can all of these guys develop as expected? They sure can as the talent is off the hook. Will they? No way. It never happens that way.
For the SEC to take that much-needed step in quarterback talent, a few of these guys need to become stars before we can even talk about them in the same breath as Sam Darnold, Luke Falk, Trace McSorley, Mason Rudolph, Jake Browning, JT Barrett, Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson.
So which ones will succeed for sure? Eason, Patterson, Fitzgerald and Stidham when it comes to guys taking the next step (and Jarrett Guarantano at Tennessee if he wins the job). If they do, the SEC will be much more than power football and defense.