It was another great year for Head Coach Hugh Freeze and his staff in Oxford as they scored their second straight Top-20 recruiting class highlighted by many offensive linemen and some help on defense.
Coach Freeze spoke to Athletics Foundation members Wednesday night and was quick to credit his staff for the hard work they did to land this group of future Rebels. The Mississippi native mentioned how important it was to “win the state” in recruiting, and that is just what they did. Assistant Coaches told stories about the recruiting process and highlighted each new player at the event in the newly refurbished Manning Center on campus.
Here is a player-by-player breakdown of the 2014 Ole Miss Signing Class.
CJ Hampton | S | Meridian, MS (Meridian)Hampton is a four-star safety out of Meridian High School in Meridian, Miss. He stacks up at 6-1, 190 and logged a 4.48 in his 40. Yancy Porter of Scout.com says he runs like defensive back but hits like a linebacker. This gives Ole Miss the possible ability to move some players around to have a more full secondary. CJ Hampton is an early enrollee and is already on campus in Oxford.
D.K. Buford | RB | Oxford, MS (Lafayette)
Buford is small local running back out of Lafayette High School right here in Oxford. D.K. led the Commodores to the 4A State Title game once again, so the young man knows how to win. He rushed for 1,027 yards and found the end zone 15 times in his final season at Lafayette. Buford had over 3,600 yards in his career and 49 touchdowns, so he is quite the offensive weapon for RB Coach Derrick Nix.
Tyler Putman | OL | Southaven, MS (Desoto)
Putman is a rough story. The 6-5, 285 pound offensive lineman has torn his ACL in both knees and is currently rehabbing. He will be a grey shirt and will join the team in January. The coaching staff has said he is making good progress and sees great things coming from him. He should be a great addition to a young offensive line.
Dayall Harris | WR | Jackson, MS (Calloway)
Dayall Harris is one of three members of this signing class from Calloway High School in Jackson. He is a big 6-3 target who will be huge for the Ole Miss offense. The three-star prospect recorded over 550 receiving yards as a senior on seven touchdowns. He also recorded 1,034 yards as an All-State return man. He could be a special teams start right away for the Rebels.
DeMarquis Gates | OLB | Lovejoy, GA (Lovejoy)
Gates is a three-star LB signee that did not play his senior year due to an ACL tear. He is an outside linebacker that has made plays in his career and is a winner. He lead his team to back-to-back state final appearances his Sophomore and Junior year at Lovejoy High.
Jeremy Liggins | ATH | Oxford, MS (Lafayette)
Jeremy Liggins has had a long road to get to this point. He committed to LSU out of high school in front of a large crowd at a local restaurant, but could not make his grades to get to Baton Rouge. His most recent home was at Northeast Mississippi Community College where he played some Quarterback (HS Position), Tight-end and defensive line. Coaches at Ole Miss aren’t really sure where his home will be at Ole Miss, but it has been mentioned that he will get reps at QB and TE.
Calvin Moore | S | Bassfield, MS (Bassfield)
Along with his brother, this three-star signee comes to Oxford from Bassfield, Miss. He is a lightening fast safety who is a hard worker as well. Both Moore brothers notched a ridiculous 40-time at 4.38. He will provide crazy speed and a spark for the landshark defense. The coaching staff is very excited about this entire family being Rebels.
Alvin Moore | OLB | Bassfield, MS (Bassfield)
Alvin Moore, along with his brother, is a three-star linebacker out of Bassfield High. He brings a little bit more size to the table than Calvin, being logged at over six-feet tall and 200 pounds. Though he is bigger, he is just as fast as his brother. He also recorded a 4.38 40-time. He will bring great speed and hard hits for Ole Miss at the linebacker position.
Akeem Judd | RB | Milledgeville, GA (Georgia Military)
He’s here! The power running back that Ole Miss has been looking for. Many have asked why Ole Miss signed another player at this position when Coach Nix has plenty to work with. Because he is different. Akeem Judd brings size to the Ole Miss backfield for the first time in a few years. He is a 5-10, 200 pound back from Junior College that runs downhill wherever he goes.
Kendrick Doss | QB | Florence, AL (Florence)
The lone quarterback of the class is an early enrolleee for Ole Miss and is already on campus. He is one of the new Rebel players that will participate in Spring Practices with his new teammates. Doss is a three-star QB out of Florence, Ala. that brought his team to the State Semi-Final game for the first time in school history. He is dual-threat player who had over 2,000 passing yards and 15 touchdowns and then rushed for over 1,000 yards with 18 scores.
Roderick Taylor | OG | Jackson, MS (Calloway)
Taylor is one of three signees from Calloway High School in Jackson. He is an absolute man on the offensive line. He is 323 pounds and 6-3, but is quick with his feet and can provide great talent for the Ole Miss offensive line that has holes in it with some seniors leaving. He will likely play right away, joining Sophomores Austin Golson and Laremy Tunsil who were a part of last years signing class.
Victor Evans | DE | Dallas, TX (Skyline)
Victor Evans is a three-star defensive-end that will provide more size and muscle to the already talented group. Evans is not shy when it comes to chasing after quarterbacks, he logged a 5A best 16 sacks last season and stopped the ball behind the line 24 times. He can add great speed of the edge at the defensive end position. Evans was offered by the University of Texas and chose Ole Miss over the Horns. That doesn’t happen everyday.
Chris Williams | DT | Tyrone, GA (Sandy Creek)
Chris Williams is the 49th ranked tackle in the Nation. He logged 34 tackles and 3 sacks last season and that’s with missing six games. He lead his team to the 4A Semi-finals in Georgia. He will bring speed and size to the Ole Miss defensive line.
Gary Wunderlich | K/P | Memphis, TN (Memphis University School)
Wunderlich is the top kicker prospect in the United States. He will likely play right away for Ole Miss to replace the kicking duties of Andrew Ritter who will graduate in May. Ole Miss hasn’t really seen a leg like Gary’s in quite some time. He can also punt the ball, which has also been an issue for the Rebels the past two seasons.
Breeland Speaks | DT | Jackson, MS (Calloway)Breeland Speaks is the third new Rebel in this class from Calloway High School. Most believe he has been a strong commit to Ole Miss for months despite the late push by the LSU staff. Speaks is 6-4, 285 pounds and his size will be huge on the Ole Miss defensive line, but his size isn’t the only thing that is awesome about this kid. Speaks has crazy speed from the line and will be a threat to any teams backfield in the SEC.
Kendarious Webster | CB | Stockbridge, GA (Stockbridge)
Webster is one of the nine four-star signees in the 2014 class for Ole Miss. He’s the reigning 4A Defensive Player of the Year in Georgia recording over 50 tackles, 7 picks and a pick-six. He also worked in the return game for Stockbridge High and ran back three kicks for touchdowns. Webster was also 4A All-State in Georgia. He will be a huge addition to the Ole Miss secondary for the years to come.
Markell Pack | WR | Purvis, MS (Purvis)
Pack is a big wide-receiver that could be the next Donte Moncrief, who is leaving for the NFL after three years for Ole Miss. Pack has played pretty much everywhere on the field, mainly at running back and wide receiver. He rushed for over 1,100 yards and found the end zone 14 times on the ground, in the air he had about 500 yards. If you watch the highlight he ran a lot of bubble screens and end-arounds, and Freeze has been known to throw those in to the play calling at times.
Fahn Cooper | OG | Glen Ellyn, IL (College of Dupage)
Fahn Cooper is a three-star Junior College guard that a ridiculous amount of size to the offensive line of Ole Miss later on down the road. He will go through Spring practice with the Rebels this Spring. Ole Miss found Cooper while he was at Bowling Green and coaches noticed how he handled himself in the Swamp one week against the Florida Gators. His 6-6 325 pound body will be huge for the Ole Miss offensive line.
Christian Russell | MLB | Scooba, MS (East Mississippi CC)
Russell is another Junior College transfer for Ole Miss. He is a 4-star signee who helped East Mississippi to another National Championship with 80 tackles, three sacks and a few forced fumbles as well. He also had two interceptions. The versatility of this player will be great for the Ole Miss defense down the road. Russell is already on campus as a student after enrolling in January.
Garrald McDowell | DE | Covington, LA (Covington)
McDowell is a four-star defensive end from South Louisiana that Ole Miss landed in December. He was an Under Armour All-American and was the Defensive MVP in his 5A district in Louisiana. He is around 255 pounds so he will probably bulk up a bit when he arrives in the weight room at Ole Miss.
Marquis Haynes | DE | Fork Union, VA (Fork Union Military Academy)
Marquis Haynes is one of the early enroll who will take part in Spring practice in 2014. He is a three-star recruit who is a true freshman. Haynes signed at North Carolina out of High School but that pan out. He has been compared to CJ Johnson, who will be making his return in 2014 after missing most of 2013 due to a leg injury. He is very quick off the ball and will provide great rushing skills for the Rebels.
Sammie Epps | WR/TE | Greenwood, MS (Greenwood)
Sammie Epps is an absolute stud. He is a very lanky 6-5 receiver from Greenwood High School who caught 46 balls for over 800 yards. He found the endzone 11 times. All-State honors was one of the many accomplishments Epps had in his Senior year, along with Region 3 Offensive Player of the Year and a selction to the All-Star game between Mississippi and Alabama. He will be a big addition to the Ole Miss offense who saw Evan Engram have great success before injury at the same position in 2013.
Sean Rawlings | C | Madison, MS (MRA)
Rawlings is the future center of the Ole Miss Rebels, a guy who has been wearing red and blue his entire life. The 6-5, 285 offensive lineman has grown up an Ole Miss fan and is fulfilling a lifelong dream of being an Rebel. He is a previous Mississippi State commitment who flipped to Ole Miss in late January. Ole Miss has question marks at some positions and center is one of those. Rawlings is a big lineman who is very talented and had success at Madison-Ridgeland Academy in High School.
Tee Sheppard | CB | Fresno, CA (Holmes CC)
The final Junior College pickup for Ole Miss, Tee Sheppard, was probably the biggest story of National Signing day in the State of Mississippi. A last minute flip from Mississippi State to Ole Miss sent the chat boards into a frenzy on Wednesday afternoon and made a lot of Bulldog fans bitter to end Signing Day. He should have three years left of eligibility if he makes his grades. He is a player that could have an immediate impact at Ole Miss joining an already talented secondary.
Jordan Sims | OG | Homewood, AL (Homewood)
Sims is another GIANT offensive lineman signed by Ole Miss this year. One of three members of the 300-pound club (Breeland Speaks, Fahn Cooper) he will provide much needed size to the Ole Miss offensive line. The 6-4, 347 pound guard will have a big impact in Oxford over the next few years joining a young offensive line that had holes this past season due to injuries.
The Rebels had a total of 26 national letters of intent on Signing Day while their counterparts across the state had 23. Ole Miss signed the Top-4 high school players in Mississippi according to the Clarion Ledger in Jackson. That would be called winning the state.
Ole Miss missed out on a few guys they had strong pushes at the end of the recruiting process, including two LSU signees Malachi Dupre and Davon Godchaux. Dupre probably saw the openings at LSU made vacant by Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry and saw the ability to play right away so there really isn’t much surprise he landed in Baton Rouge. The Plaquemine, LA native, Godchaux apparently wanted to go to Ole Miss, but the rumor is his mother wouldn’t sign his NLI.
Overall the 2014 class is probably better than the history making class a year ago. It is more well-rounded and addresses many team needs, mainly in the trenches and the offensive and defensive lines. They also filled gaps in the secondary. It is a very exciting time to be an Ole Miss Rebel, that is for sure.
All player rankings are the rankings according to Scout.com.
Connor Hennessey is a writer and radio host in Oxford, Miss. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or @ConnorHennes on Twitter. Visit OleMissSports.com for up-to-date information pertaining to the Ole Miss Rebels.