Houston Nutt sure knows how to finish.
In much the way he did as Mississippi won six straight games and the Cotton Bowl to finish in the Top 25, Nutt guided the Rebels to one of the nation's best recruiting classes on Wednesday, the first day high school seniors could sign national letters of intent.
New Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen also pulled in a top class, but that group seemed set long before signing day.
Nutt orchestrated a furious finish with a flourish, picking up the state's top recruit, Noxubee County wide receiver Pat Patterson, luring gargantuan offensive lineman Bobby Massie away from Alabama and signing the team's quarterback of the future, Raymond Cotton.
Other highly rated recruits signing with the Rebels included Darius "Tig" Barksdale, the former South Panola running back who spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy after signing with Ole Miss last year, former Florida defensive back Jamar Hornsby and defensive end Craig Drummond.
The Rebels lost out on Memphis, Tenn., receiver Marlon Brown, who went to Ohio State, but otherwise made a clean sweep of high-priority players.
Mullen managed to keep intact most of the key recruits who committed to previous coach Sylvester Croom and added more talent once he moved to Starkville after helping guide Florida to its second national title as the Gators' offensive coordinator.
Key signees include Meridian quarterback Tyler Russell, Philadelphia defensive lineman Josh Boyd, Yazoo City defensive lineman Fletcher Cox and Tupelo receiver Chad Bumphis.
Southern Miss also appeared to sign another strong class, though it probably won't finish in the top 50 like last year. Golden Eagles coach Larry Fedora managed to hang onto Lawrence County running back Kendrick Hardy despite a hard push by Tennessee and former Southern Miss assistant coach Frank Wilson.
Other highlights in the class include Franklin County athlete Jamie Collins, Wayne County running back Tracy Lampley and Madison Central linebacker Will Martin.