Ole Miss football inks Top 25 class in early signing period
Published 4:58 pm Wednesday, December 22, 2021
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss finished Early Signing Day with a Top 25 class Wednesday, highlighted by numerous impact players on the defensive side of the football to start the 2022 class.
The Rebels signed 16 players, including five with a 4-star rating. Ole Miss is No. 24 in the 247Sports composite rankings. Head coach Lane Kiffin is excited about the incoming class but added that his staff is far from finished constructing the 2022 roster.
“We were very picky. I think we had high standards. Didn’t reach, and I’m excited about the guys that came,” Kiffin said. “With transfers and portal guys, that will be ongoing for a while, all the way through when we start school in January because they don’t sign NILs again. So I would anticipate a lot of movement and signings there, which is why, by design this, is a small class compared to the amount of scholarships we have available.”
One of the last letters of the day was one of the biggest for Ole Miss—its top-rated recruit in 4-star athlete Jaron Willis out of Leesburg, Georgia. The physical Under Armour All-American chose the Rebels over a host of offers, and his versatility could have him on the field early.
“Not sure exactly what he’ll play, but a very big athlete,” Kiffin said. “That’s what they’re supposed to look like. He’s someone who, when he walks in, looks like he’s ready to play in the SEC. Really good get there.”
Willis is one of four 4-star prospects on the defensive side for Ole Miss, joined by defensive lineman Zxavian Harris and defensive backs Taylor Groves and Nick Cull. The Rebels also added the nation’s top junior college linebacker in Reginald Hughes. Two more athletic linebackers, Jaylon White and Tyler Banks will join Hughes in that position room. Jarell Stinson adds to another strong secondary class for the Rebel coaching staff.
Ole Miss inked three massive prospects along the offensive front in Preston Cushman, Flip Carswell and Cam East. Cushman held on his verbal commitment made this past summer, while Carswell flipped from Miami and East chose the Rebels after being verbally committed to Mississippi State earlier this month.
A group of talented skill position players signed on to join one of college football’s best offenses. Quinshon Judkins will join the Rebel running back room out of Pike Road, Ala., while Mississippi natives Larry Simmons and Jeremiah Dillon will stay in state to join the wide receiver corps. The Rebels added a key piece to the tight end room as well in 6-foot-4 Mansfield, Texas, native Kyirin Heath.
Ole Miss also found a potential replacement for longtime starting punter Mac Brown. The first letter of the day came from all the way across the globe as punter Fraser Masin joined the fold out of Brisbane, Australia.
The punter from down under kicked off a string of 16 Rebel signees Wednesday, but Kiffin and Co. are far from finished. The Ole Miss head coach commented that he isn’t looking at bolstering one particular position or another, just at finding the best 85 football players he can by next fall.
“More than ever we look at the best players and just getting our 85 to be the best that we can and build on that,” Kiffin said. “So that’s an ongoing process of trying to find the best players. If I have this many at this position, but then you don’t feel good about these guys playing because they are not good enough, we’d much rather have the best players, so we’ll continue to do that instead of exact numbers.”
While the recruiting continues in all forms and fashions, the Rebels return to bowl practice Thursday. No. 8 Ole Miss will cap off the 2021 season with a matchup against No. 7 Baylor in the 2022 Sugar Bowl, on Jan. 1, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Rebels are seeking their first 11-win season in program history.
Get all the latest information on the team by following @olemissfb on Twitter and Instagram and OleMissFootball on Facebook. General athletic news can also be found at OleMissSports on Twitter and Facebook and OleMissAthletics on Instagram.