OXFORD, Miss. -- The Ole Miss football program inked 25 new Rebels to open the early signing period on Wednesday, a class that currently ranks No. 20 nationally according to ESPN.
The Rebels landed seven 4-star prospects on early signing day in addition to 18 3-star signees. The class features 11 mid-year enrollees, which will allow head coach Matt Luke and his staff to start the development process early going into the 2019 season.
"Really excited about this recruiting class," Luke said. "We all know that recruiting is about filling needs, and I felt like we were able to address a lot of those needs. We have 11 mid-year enrollees who will be here for spring practice. We addressed needs at every position. It's a big class, it gives us the opportunity to build the depth we need."
The first National Letters of Intent rolled in around 6 a.m. CT, featuring a trio of offensive linemen, Reece McIntyre, Jeremy James and Carter Colquitt. In total, the Rebels signed seven O-linemen.
The group of blockers features both talent and depth, highlighted by a pair of 4-star prospects in Darius Thomas and Nick Broeker. Thomas comes in as the No. 4 prospect out of Arkansas and the No. 23 offensive tackle in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, while Broeker ranks 31st among tackles and is the No. 3 prospect out of Illinois according to ESPN. It's a group that has Luke and offensive line coach Jack Bicknell excited going into the offseason.
"I thought coach Bicknell did an unbelievable job with the offensive line," Luke said. "Darius looks like you're supposed to look. He's got a bright future. I think he's going to be a big-time offensive tackle. He has, for whatever reason, flown under the radar. But he's a very good looking young man from a great family. I'm excited about him."
When the clock hit 7 a.m. CT, a flood of NLIs came through the Ole Miss fax machines, including defensive backs Jalen Jordan and A.J. Finley, as well as Jones County Junior College products Jamar Richardson and Jonathan Haynes. The secondary added six signees, highlighted by 4-star cornerback Deantre Prince out of Charleston, Mississippi.
"Jamar and Jonathan from Jones," Luke said, "I think they can come in and make an immediate impact."
On the defensive front, Sam Williams enters the fold after earning NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year and All-American honors at Northeast Mississippi Community College last season. Williams, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, racked up 17.5 sacks as a sophomore and will look to make his mark early on defense for the Rebels. He's joined by defensive tackle signee Patrick Lucas.
"Sam, being a really good pass rusher, I think he can come in and help us immediately," Luke said. "First-team All-American defensive end who can be here for spring practice."
Ole Miss added three in-state linebackers, Lafayette's Eric Jeffries, Louisville's Ashanti Cistrunk and Tupelo's Tavario Standifer. Luke and his staff are excited to see what the group will do in defensive coordinator's Mike MacIntyre 3-4 defense, and they anticipate adding more at the position during the late signing period.
"We have some young linebackers with Mohamed Sanogo and Jacquez Jones—that's a good building block," Luke said. "As we look forward to this February signing class, you can probably look for us to find a junior college linebacker or another guy who can step in there and compete with those guys."
At quarterback, the Rebels added two promising prospects to fill in alongside returner Matt Corral. Kinkead Dent was the first signal-caller to sign out of Jackson Academy, followed by 4-star Grant Tisdale, a standout from Texas powerhouse Allen, home of the Rebels' NFL-bound left tackle Greg Little. Both quarterbacks will be mid-year enrollees and will join the Rebels for spring practice.
They'll be joined in the offensive backfield by running back signee Snoop Conner, also a mid-year enrollee. Conner played quarterback at Hattiesburg High School, but the powerful runner will tote the rock for the Rebs after earning MVP honors thanks to a two-touchdown performance at the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Classic.
"Being able to sign 25 guys and 16 guys from Mississippi, really proud of that," Luke said. "A lot of really quality young men in this class. It's a huge step toward rebuilding this program and having the opportunity for the first time to get back to 85 scholarships."
In addition to Conner, the Rebels added a number of new weapons to the Nasty Wide Outs. The next generation of nWo signees is headlined by a pair of 4-stars, Dannis Jackson out of Sumrall, Mississippi, and Jadon Jackson out of Centerton, Arkansas. They are joined by Tupelo product Jordan Jernigan and East Mississippi CC transfer and Laurel, Mississippi, native Dontario Drummond, who earned first-team NJCAA All-American honors after a stellar sophomore season.
"We did a very good job at signing receivers to come in and replace the guys who left," Luke said. "You take Drummond, who is a first-team All-American junior college receiver who can come in and help immediately. Dannis is a very dynamic player. He'll have a role early, just because of his speed and explosiveness—punt returning, kick returning, speed sweeps, receiver—he can do a lot of different things. He's definitely one of the top receivers in the state and in the country for this class. Jadon same thing. He's a very fast guy, very long, very good receiver."
Now, on the recruiting trail, Luke and Co. will look to finish out the 2019 class strong and lock up the program's fourth top-20 class in the last six years. Several openings in the class still remain with the late signing period beginning February 6.
"I think we probably have two spots on the D-line, one at linebacker, that'll be important. You probably want to look at one more receiver and one more running back. But the two spots on the D-line and the spot at linebacker are critical," Luke said. "That's the good thing about this early signing period, now you can focus in and lock in and go get those guys."
NAME POS. HT. WT. YR. HOMETOWN (PREV. SCHOOL)
Nick Broeker OL 6-6 288 Fr. Springfield, Ill. (Sacred Heart-Griffin)
Ashanti Cistrunk* LB 6-2 205 Fr. Louisville, Miss. (Louisville)
Carter Colquitt OL 6-5 300 Fr. Buford, Ga. (Buford)
Snoop Conner* RB 5-11 210 Fr. Hattiesburg, Miss. (Hattiesburg)
Kinkead Dent* QB 6-5 205 Fr. Jackson, Miss. (Jackson Academy)
Dontario Drummond* WR 6-2 200 Jr. Laurel, Miss. (East Mississippi CC)
A.J. Finley DB 6-2 195 Fr. Mobile, Ala. (St. Paul's Episcopal School)
Jonathan Haynes* DB 6-0 205 Jr. Benoit, Miss. (Jones County JC)
Dannis Jackson WR 6-1 187 Fr. Sumrall, Miss. (Sumrall)
Jadon Jackson* WR 6-2 180 Fr. Centerton, Ark. (Bentonville West)
Jeremy James OL 6-5 315 Fr. Cumming, Ga. (North Forsyth)
Eric Jeffries* LB 6-3 228 Fr. Oxford, Miss. (Lafayette)
Jordan Jernigan WR 6-1 193 Fr. Tupelo, Miss. (Tupelo)
Jalen Jordan* DB 5-10 185 Fr. Lake Cormorant, Miss. (Lake Cormorant)
Patrick Lucas DL 6-3 290 Fr. Wetumpka, Ala. (Wetumpka)
Reece McIntyre OL 6-5 315 Fr. Buford, Ga. (Buford)
Deantre Prince DB 6-1 170 Fr. Charleston, Miss. (Charleston)
Bryce Ramsey OL 6-2 336 Fr. Gulfport, Miss. (Harrison Central)
Jamar Richardson* DB 6-0 185 Jr. Aliceville, Miss. (Jones County JC)
Tavario Standifer LB 6-2 220 Fr. Tupelo, Miss. (Tupelo)
Jay Stanley DB 6-2 200 Fr. Brandon, Miss. (Brandon)
Darius Thomas OL 6-6 340 Fr. Jonesboro, Ark. (Jonesboro)
Grant Tisdale* QB 6-1 204 Fr. Allen, Texas (Allen)
Caleb Warren OL 6-4 305 Fr. Louisville, Miss. (Nanih Waiya)
Sam Williams* DL 6-5 255 Jr. Montgomery, Ala. (Northeast Mississippi CC)
* - Will be a mid-year enrollee