Ole Miss’ top recruit faces difficult decision

Published 8:38 am Friday, December 7, 2018

Jerrion Ealy is Ole Miss’ top-rated recruit for the class of 2019. The four-star running back, according to 247Sports, and the fourth best high school runner in the nation should be primed to make an immediate impact on the Rebel squad as a true freshman. That is, if he doesn’t turn professional in a different sport.

MLB.com released their list of the top 50 draft-eligible players for the 2019 MLB Draft earlier this week. Ealy’s name came in at no. 18, the eighth rated high-schooler on the list. Ealy, an outfielder for Jackson Prep, was an Under Armour All-American in both baseball and football. This is a wildly rare distinction, but one held by another well-known member of the Ole Miss family: wide receiver A.J. Brown.

Brown was drafted in the 19th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres, also to play outfield. He signed with the Padres that summer, forgoing his amateur status in baseball. By signing, he was prohibited to play baseball for the Rebels. Brown was the no. 50 high school prospect at the time.

Another well known, rare, dual All-American is Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman finalist Kyler Murray. Murray was drafted in 2018 as the eighth overall pick and received a $4.66-million signing bonus from the Oakland Athletics. Despite signing, he did so with the understanding that he would return to Oklahoma for one final year of football. Following, he would then report to spring training in 2019 to begin his baseball career.

Like Brown and Murray, Jerrion Ealy was a hot commodity in both sports. Ealy had offers to play running back from Alabama, Clemson, Texas, Auburn and others before committing to Ole Miss to play both sports.

There’s a bevy of options available to Ealy at this point. The MLB draft is not for another six months, in June of 2019. Teams may pass on Ealy due to his two-sport background, and the potential that he either may not sign with them. Addition, he could sign but still choose to play football, at least for some period of time, like Brown and Murray did.

The potential of a signing and delayed entry to baseball could cause Ealy to slip out of the first round. Falling in the draft would lead to a significantly decreased signing bonus. If he were to sign to play baseball, he would be ineligible to play baseball for the Rebels. He could also be drafted, choose not to sign, play both sports at Ole Miss, and throw his name back into the MLB draft hat after his junior year at Ole Miss.