At Ole Miss, there is famous saying, “We may not win every game, but we’ve never lost a party.”
For most of the school’s history, Ole Miss has been known more for its revelry (The Grove is the best tailgating spot in America), race relations, and its ability, as they say, to redshirt Miss Americas than for its football. This has been the case because Ole Miss has not even been invited to the National Signing Day recruiting party for much of its history.
On Wednesday, that changed, as the Rebels thunderously crashed it, signing the best class in the school’s history. Ratings agencies put Ole Miss’s class in the top 5 in the nation. Excited donors attended a banquet on Wednesday night, optimistic about the team’s future.
And on Thursday, Ole Miss Head Coach Hugh Freeze, who coached Michael Oher, of “The Blind Side” movie fame, in high school and brought him to Ole Miss during his last stint at the university, discussed the school’s record-setting day. His voice was hoarse, but Freeze talked about how important it was for the program to get the recruits to Oxford, Mississippi and how great the players and the student body did in selling Ole Miss to the nation’s top recruits.
The nation’s No. 1 recruit, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, signed with Ole Miss. Freeze called him an “immediate impact player who is a very hard worker.”
Ole Miss also signed the nation’s top-ranked wide receiver (Laquon Treadwell) and top-ranked offensive lineman (Laremy Tunsil). Tony Conner, one of the country’s top-rated safeties, signed with Ole Miss as well.
Freeze, in an appearance on ESPN on Thursday, said Wednesday’s National Signing Day was “a perfect storm.”
“We had a great plan that we executed,” Freeze said, while acknowledging the school caught some breaks.
Nkemdiche’s, brother, for instance, plays on the team.
Freeze said his staff did a great job of “finishing” and “closing” to make kids feel like “Ole Miss was a place for them” and emphasized the great product Ole Miss had to offer once they are able to get recruits on campus.
Freeze said getting high school recruits to visit the campus – and getting them there at the same time – were keys to his recruiting class.
“Part of our plan was getting all the top recruits together on the same weekend, I think that was a big part that made the recruits say, ‘I’m coming [to Ole Miss],'” Freeze said.
Last season, Alabama players reportedly were reportedly impressed with an Ole Miss team they felt was as tough as any team the back-to-back national champions faced. With the 2013 class, Ole Miss just got a lot tougher.