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“The Foundation:” Ole Miss lands six more on National Signing Day

OXFORD – Ole Miss is back to full capacity. After dealing with scholarship reductions and recruiting limitations since 2017, the Rebels are back to full force. Wednesday’s national signing day saw the Rebels land six more key pieces to the future of the Rebel success puzzle, including some of the most sought-after players in the country, specifically five-star running back Jerrion Ealy. The Ole Miss 2019 recruiting class is finalized, totaling 31 names and bringing the scholarship numbers back to 85.

“We still had some needs out there at defensive line and linebacker and keeping some of the best players in Mississippi at home. I felt like we were able to accomplish that today,” said head coach Matt Luke. “Top to bottom, I feel like this class can be the foundation to getting this program back on track and back where we want to go.”

Things got started for Luke and Co. a littler earlier than expected. Four-star quarterback John Rhys Plumlee took to Twitter on Monday night to commit to the Rebels. The Oak Grove High School product was previously committed to Georgia but had reopened his recruitment in December. This represented a critical in-state get for Ole Miss. However, Plumlee will join a crowded crop of young quarterbacks. The Rebels already signed four-star quarterback Grant Tisdale and three-star Kinkead Dent in the early windows, both of whom enrolled early.

The biggest decision came in at 11:15 a.m. from Jackson. Jerrion Ealy, the nation’s No. 3 running back according to 247sports, signed to play in Oxford. The Jackson Prep prospect committed to Ole Miss in Dec. of 2017. Nonetheless, he backed off of his commitment earlier this year, taking late visits to both Alabama and Clemson.

“In the end, when Jerrion came back, I think he felt at home,” Luke said. “Him making the decision to stay in Mississippi makes a statement.”

However, Ealy’s signing is far from ironclad; he may never attend Ole Miss. Ealy projects to be an early 1st round pick in June’s MLB draft. If he is to enroll at Ole Miss, he will play both football and baseball. Ealy said on ESPN that “baseball has his heart,” but Matt Luke seemed optimistic in his ability to get him on campus.

“It’s a hope that he’s going to play football and we’re going to have that opportunity. He loves football and he loves baseball. But I think we all hope he’s going to come in and make an impact on the football field,” Luke said.

Already a strong group for the Rebels, they added another top wide receiver prospect in four-star Jonathan Mingo on Wednesday. Mingo committed to Matt Luke over the summer, but Ole Miss had to hold off late pushes from Georgia and Mississippi State to sign the in-state Brandon product. Mingo hauled in 77 passes for 1,451 yards and 14 touchdowns in his final high school season, being named an Under Armour All-American.

Depth among the defensive line was arguably the most bolstered single group in this late signing window. Ole Miss got a critical flip in three-star defensive tackle LeDarrius Cox early in the day. Previously, Cox committed for quite a while to play at Tennessee, before a late Rebel push. They also signed three-star defensive end Brandon Mack out of Birmingham, Alabama. Mack chose Ole Miss over Mississippi State, LSU and Kentucky, among others.

The last letter to come across the fax machine for the Rebels was that of linebacker Lakia Henry. The seventh 4-star member Henry was the nation’s No. 3 JUCO recruit, according to 247sports.

Overall, between December’s early window and Wednesday’s signing day, Ole Miss landed 31 new scholarship players, bringing them up to full 85 player capacity for the first time since sanctions came down. At time of writing, the class ranks No. 22 in the nation according to 247sports, just above fellow SEC schools Arkansas and Mississippi State. The class consists of one five-star player, seven four-star players and 23 three-star players.

“I was confident because of the positive momentum we had. We had a very, very good offseason. There’s a commitment to winning in our organization,” Luke said. “There is no more bowl ban. There are no more sanctions and there are no more scholarship restrictions. When you can go into a home it gives you a lot of confidence, especially when there’s that commitment to winning from your organization.”