Ole Miss football: 2016 signing class rewind

Jan 1, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels defensive back Tony Bridges (1) and Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Derrick Jones (19) celebrate with fans after the Rebels defeated Oklahoma State Cowboys 48-20 in the 2016 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels defensive back Tony Bridges (1) and Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Derrick Jones (19) celebrate with fans after the Rebels defeated Oklahoma State Cowboys 48-20 in the 2016 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports /

With today being the day that most of the 2016 Ole Miss football signees enroll officially, let’s go back and breakdown each member of the history class.

The 2016 signing class will go down as one of the best ever in the history of the Ole Miss football program. Signing three, five-star recruits is spectacular for any team, but you can’t win a game with three players. Top to bottom, this class is great and every player has the potential to be a future starters. Below is a breakdown of the class.

  • 5-star | QB Shea Patterson | 6’2 190 – Patter was the number one quarterback in the nation, and fourth overall in the class, out of IMG academy in Bradenton, Florida. He is a special talent and proved that at the U.S. Army All-American game, being named MVP, while going 6-10 passing with a pair of touchdowns. I don’t expect him to redshirt as the staff will be preparing him to start next season once all-everything senior signal caller Chad Kelly graduates.
  • 5-star | OT

    Gregory Little

    | 6’5 310 – Little chose Ole Miss over Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU. He was the number one offensive tackle and third overall coming out of national powerhouse Allen High School in Allen, Texas, where he was teammates with fellow Ole Miss ’16 signee Jaylon Jones. He left little(pun intended) doubt as to why he was the best offensive tackle in the country after dominating at The Opening in Oregon against the top players in the country. While drawing comparisons to former Ole Miss offensive stalwart, Laremy Tunsil and simarly he is expected to step in right away at left tackle.

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  • 5-star | DT Benito Jones | 6’2 300 – Jones was a known commodity within Mississippi for years as he dominated while at Wayne County. Jones moved into the 5-star range late after dominating at the Under Armour All-American game. He committed to Alabama as a sophomore but flipped to Ole Miss as a junior and never looked back. Ole Miss’ defensive line is one of the best in the country, but even with all of the returning players, Jones is expected to step in the rotation and play right away.
  • 4-star | WR A.J. Brown | 6-1 220 – Brown blew up nationally after dominating at the Under Armour All-American game. He has dominated Mississippi defensive backs for years while at Starkville High to the tune of 39 touchdowns and 2,883 receiving yards in his career. Brown(along with Shea) has become a fan favorite after spurning the hometown Mississippi State Bulldogs to become a Rebel. Brown, while a special talent on the gridiron, is also talented as a baseball player. He is only the second player ever to play in the football and baseball Under Armour All-American games (Kyler Murray). He will also play baseball at Ole Miss like Senquez Golson and Chief Brown before him. Even though Ole Miss’ wide receivers are possibly the deepest in college football, Brown is a special talent and is expected to be in the mix right away.
  • 4-star | S

    Deontay Anderson

    | 6’1 192 – Anderson was the number two safety in the country out of Manvel, Texas, where he was teammates with fellow 2016 Ole Miss signee D’Vaughn Pennamon. He chose Ole Miss over LSU and Texas after skydiving out of a plane in an announcement video that was released on signing day by Bleacher Report. With veterans Trae Elston, Chief Brown, and Mike Hilton gone, the hope is that he can pick up the playbook quickly and play right away. He was recruited to play strong safety which is where C.J. Hampton and Chief Brown played last season.

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  • 4-star | WR DeKaylin Metcalf | 6’4 205 – Metcalf is the second of three very talented Ole Miss wide receiver signees. He hails from close by Oxford High and is the son of former Ole Miss and NFL great Terrence Metcalf. He was in the discussion for being a five star player but in the end, just missed the cut. He played in the Army All-American game. Metcalf will get every chance to play right away but don’t be surprised if he ends up getting a redshirt sheerly because of Ole Miss’ depth at wide receiver.
  • 4-star | TE Octavious Cooley | 6’3 230 – When seeing Cooley play, I can’t help but watch in awe of his athleticism. Hailing from Laurel, Mississippi, Cooley dominated the state catching passes from 2016 Southern Miss signee, Keon Howard. If he picks up the offense quickly, I can see Octavious playing a vital role soon in the Rebel offense. He didn’t attend many camps, therefore he didn’t receive much recognition, but from those who saw him, it was obvious he could be the top tight end in the 2016 class.
  • 4-star | WDE Charles “Chuck” Wiley | 6’3 235 – Wiley’s athleticism is second to none in this class. That was proven when he showed up his sophomore year at an Ole Miss camp and ran a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash at 230 pounds. He committed to Ole Miss early over offers from Alabama, Auburn, in-state Georgia, Clemson, and more, and never turned back. He played at Stockbridge in Georgia which is the same school as current Ole Miss cornerback Kendarius Webster and 2018 target Marquez Ezzard. The Rebels are in good shape once Marquis Haynes moves, with Chuck Wiley now in the fold.
  • 4-star | TE Gabe Angel | 6’3 215 – Tennessee has long been a recruiting ground for Ole Miss and that continued with the signature of this Cookeville, TN, native. Angel draws comparisons to current Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram with his smaller than the typical tight end size, sure handedness, and smooth route-running skills. I expect him to redshirt in 2016 but with added weight, I see an Engram clone in the making.
  • 4-star | WR Tre’ Nixon | 6’1 170 – Hugh Freeze loves big-bodied wide receivers but you have to be versatile when playing at a high level. Nixon is the first true slot receiver Freeze has been able to land. Previously, we’ve missed out on Trey Quinn(LSU) and Isaiah McKenzie(UGA), among others. Now Freeze has the burner he’s been looking for in the slot, to be able to stretch the field. Nixon, who chose Ole Miss over UGA and Florida, is slight in stature but makes up for it with blazing speed. It will be interesting to watch if he ends up getting on the field once you factor in his weight, speed, and position depth, into the equation.
  • 4-star | DB

    Jaylon Jones

    | 5’11 185 – Jones hails from Allen, Texas, home of the famed 60 million dollar(!!!!) HIGH SCHOOL stadium. When watching film, the first thing you notice is his versatility. He can cover like a corner and hit like a safety. He is one of my favorite players in this class and I have a feeling he will play a lot of football for the Rebels over the next several years. He was recruited as a Husky defensive back, which is the hybrid safety/linebacker position that Tony Connor plays. Jones has a brother to watch in

    2018 Jevon Jones

    , also at Allen.

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  • 4-star | RB D’Vaughn Pennamon | 5’11 220 – Pennamon chose Ole Miss over offers from Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, and Alabama. Those offers alone should tell you how talented he is as a runner. Pennamon has the talent to play right away in Ole Miss’ offense but it will be tough to breakthrough with Jordan Wilkins, Akeem Judd and super-talented redshirt freshman Eric Swinney already in the fold. With the addition of Pennamon, Ole Miss is set for the future at running back. Even if they miss on 2017 five-star running back Cam Akers, who recently put the Rebels in his top 10.
  • 4-star | OT Bryce Mathews | 6’6 280 – Bryce’s father Jason, who played at Texas A&M and later in the NFL, was also Bryce’s offensive line coach at the offensive line factory that is Brentwood Academy in Tennessee. Bryce, as you can imagine, is very well-coached and is very athletic for his size, which bodes well for him and his future as a Rebel. He needs to add a little weight which leads me to assume he’ll be redshirted this fall, but he has all the talent in the world to be in the mix in 2017 for a starting offensive tackle spot. With added weight, I could even see him slide inside at guard if he gets beat out at tackle because he has such a high football IQ.
  • 4-star | ATH Justin Connor | 5’11 190 – Connor, who comes from just outside Oxford at nearby Sardis, Mississippi, was rated as the 14th-ranked running back in the nation, but the Rebel coaches see him as a future lockdown corner. So from his first day on campus, he will be on the defensive side of the ball. Another interesting note is that current tight end-turned-linebacker Willie Hibbler played with Connor at North Panola. He is the cousin of current senior defensive back Tony Conner.
  • 4-star | TE Jacob Mathis | 6’4 225 – Mathis showed out at the Under Armour All-American practices and is the third tight end signed by the Rebels in this class. Going back to his time at Arkansas State, you can see that Hugh Freeze loves to deploy double tight end sets but he has lacked the personnel to do so at Ole Miss thus far. Look for that to change with the addition of these three tight ends. Mathis played high school ball at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Florida. It has been discussed that if tight end doesn’t work out, he could possibly move to linebacker in the future, so keep an eye on that.
  • 3-star | OT Royce Newman | 6’7 265 – Newman was a late flip from Missouri. Ole Miss is getting a high-upside guy with Newman. He played tight end and defensive end in high school because he was so athletic. His raw potential is going to be fun to watch Matt Luke develop.
  • 3-star | OG

    Chandler Tuitt

    | 6’4 295 – Despite a late push from the in-state Georgia Bulldogs, Tuitt stuck with Ole Miss. The interior lineman, that’s surprisingly light on his feet, comes from the same program that produced former and current Rebels, Mike Hilton and Eric Swinney, respectively. Ole Miss has created a solid pipeline to the Peach state powerhouse and it will be interesting to see who comes to Ole Miss from there next. Chandler could be a dark horse to find a role in 2016 in the interior of the offensive line, as he is doing all the right things in the off-season to impress the coaches.

    Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
    Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
  • 3-star | ATH Jarrion Street | 6’1 195 – I label him as an athlete because it has been discussed among the coaches that if he doesn’t show out at running back, he could potentially be moved to safety on defense. Either way, the Trussville, Alabama, native is a great athlete and was one of the top rushers in the state of Alabama the last few years.
  • 3-star | OL Jack DeFoor | 6’4 265 – DeFoor is the definition of “country strong,” just watch his film. On nearly every play he is pancaking someone to the ground. His nastiness was noticed by several high profile programs, but he committed to Ole Miss early over offers from Clemson, Michigan, Wisconsin and others. If he had waited longer to commit and gone to more camps, I truly believe he would’ve been a four star interior offensive lineman. Ole Miss is gaining a stud in Jack DeFoor.
  • 3-star | C/OG Eli Johnson | 6’2 295 – Johnson is one of the most technically-sound offensive linemen you’ll see. He even saw first team reps this spring after being an early enrollee. Injuries are likely to force him into a redshirt this fall, but I expect him to be the starting center in 2017.
  • 3-star | S Greg Eisworth | 5’11 185 – Eisworth is without a doubt my favorite signee of the 2016 cycle. When looking in the dictionary at the word, “baller,” you’ll also see a photo of Greg Eisworth. He did everything for South Grand Prairie in Texas, and that’s no small feat because they are a football powerhouse. He started at quarterback and defensive back for his team and led them on and off the field. Which is impressive considering the number one safety in the 2017 class, Jeffrey Okudah, and a top 2018 defensive back Atanza Vongor, also attend South Grand Prairie. He is a darkhorse to play significant snaps this year at safety after showing out in the spring. 
  • 3-star | LB Donta Evans | 6’2 210 – When watching Evans, I can’t help but compare him to current LB Demarquis Gates. If he’s anything like Gates, then he could be a stud in the Landshark defense. Reports from spring practices is that the Archer, Georgia, native is struggling a bit with all of the plays but once he picks up the defense, he is going to be a valuable asset to the team. In the future, he will play both middle linebacker and stinger(outside linebacker) for the Rebels just as Gates does. When it comes to Ole Miss’ 4-2-5 defense, versatility is key at linebacker and Evans fits the bill.
  • 3-star | DB Myles Hartsfield | 6’0 215 – No he’s not listed at 215 but that’s how much he weighs now since gaining 15 pounds and after being on campus only a few months. Hartfield will play right away in in the defensive backfield but not at corner where he was recruited to play, after gaining weight. Hartsfield came from East Coast Prep in Massachusetts, a prep school, so he’s a year older and more mature than a typical freshman.
  • 3-star | LB/DE Tariqious Tisdale | 6’6 265 – After growing even more, adding an inch and fifteen pounds to his frame, there is zero way Tisdale will be a linebacker for the Rebels, in my opinion. The plan was always for him to be a defensive end eventually, anyways, but his growth has expedited the process. Tisdale is a freak athlete as he played defensive line, linebacker for his high school team. He also played running back and wide receiver. The Lexington, Tennessee, native could be great asset in the future at strongside defensive end, replacing Fadol Brown.
  • 3-star | LB Detric Bing-Dukes | 6’0 230 – A late addition from Iowa Western CC, Bing-Dukes found his way to Ole Miss after signing with Georgia as a 4-star recruit out of high school in 2014.
  • 3-star | DE Josiah Coatney | 6’5 285 – Coatney was in the discussion for the number one overall player in junior college for the 2017 class before realizing, with the help of his counselor, that he needed one class to be eligible to transfer to a four-year school. Since then, he reclassified to the 2016 class and received offers from Ole Miss, Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M, LSU, and others. He ended up choosing the Rebels over a host of SEC suitors. He will be expected to contribute right away by providing depth. Junior college guys usually take close to a year to acclimate to SEC football, so it’s great that he has four years to play three. If he’s not ready to step on the field, he can redshirt and be ready in 2017. He is a very versatile player and can play anywhere on the defensive line.
    Even after signing all of those great players, Ole Miss missed out on a few key positions that they’ll need to address as they 2017 class. Cornerback and defensive line are the main positions they didn’t get as much depth as they would have liked. The late additions of Coatney and Qaadir Sheppard, to go with Benito Jones and Chuck Wiley, is more than serviceable, though.
  • After adding Coatney, I am only worried about the future of the cornerback and linebacker positions. Freeze and staff only signed one corner(Connor) and he still has to develop at the position. The anchors at the position are seniors Tony Bridges, Carlos Davis, and Kailo Moore, along with Junior Kendarius Webster. So they need to add cornerback help in the ’17 class because it could get ugly if they don’t. Sophomore Cam Ordway and Redshirt Freshman Jalen Julius have showed promise, however.

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    Linebcaker is another position that needs to add an influx of talent and fast, as well. Ole Miss added graduate transfer Rommel Mageo, from Oregon State, to go with Bing-Dukes and Evans but behind Mageo and Gates they are very thin.

    The strengths of this class is basically every other position, though. The staff seemingly loaded up every other spot.

    Look for the staff to add at least one top linebacker in this class, probably sooner rather than later.