September 29, 2008

Win has prospects looking at Ole Miss

A familiar refrain cited by prospects when asked about Ole Miss is that they don't know much about the Rebels.

That changed, and changed markedly, with Ole Miss' upset of No. 4 Florida in Gainesville on Saturday with the game being on television, and recruits who didn't see the game, saw the scores of replays on CBS, ABC, and ESPN.

"I already like the program and knew it was on the right track," Tulsa (Union HS), Okla. prospect Terrell Williams said after watching the game on Saturday. "The Florida win shows me that I'd love to be a part of that program. The win definitely puts Ole Miss right up there."

Another prospect that Ole Miss is recruiting hard but was behind on was impressed with the game and the win caught his attention.

Paris, Tenn. prospect Marsalis Teague has an impressive offer sheet - that includes an offer from Florida - but the Ole Miss win has him thinking about putting the Rebels in the mix for one of his five official visits.

"Usually, I try to stay the same and look at games just an entertainment," Teague said. "I'll study the offense and try to think in my mind how I would fit in. I caught myself thinking that could be me in the Wild Rebel. That formation was impressive and it says something when that guy (Dexter McCluster) not only breaks tackles but out runs the Florida defense. It's definitely a good sign that Ole Miss is on the right track and that things are working out with the new coach (Houston Nutt)."

"But it's hard to tell anything from just one game," he continued. "The SEC can really be tricky. I was up for the Tennessee - Florida game and both teams are recruiting me. Florida manhandled them pretty good. But just one game is not going to change my standing with Tennessee. Like I said, the SEC can be really tricky from week to week."

Yet another prospect that caught the game on television was Fayetteville (Starr's Mill HS), Ga. linebacker Stephen Roberts.

"It was really a good game and Ole Miss did pretty good," Roberts said. "They deserved the win. Coach Nutt really has done a good job with the team."

Williams, who is listed on's recruiting hot board as one of the prospects that Ole Miss covets most, is a 6-foot-2, 210 pound athlete who could play anywhere from safety to linebacker to wide receiver, said he's on track to take an official visit to Ole Miss - something solidified with program changing win over Florida.

"I'm probably going to come down on an official the day after Thanksgiving," Williams said. "Right now, I'm still pretty open to all schools."

The Rebels host Mississippi State in the regular season finale for that game.

Teague, a 5-foot-10, 170 pound prospect out of the mold of McCluster, listed his top five schools last week after a trip to Knoxville as Tennessee, Florida, Clemson, Vandy and Miami, but the Ole Miss win has him re-thinking that.

"I hear a lot from coach (Mike) Markuson, Ole Miss is recruiting me really hard and hasn't backed off," Teague said. "I pretty much had four schools set in my mind where I'd take official visits, but now I'm not 100 percent sure on any of them. After the Ole Miss win, I'm really thinking about them for an official visit. I guess I'll just have to go with a gut feeling."

While Teague said he had previously decided on four destinations for officials, he had only announced one - to Florida on Oct. 11 for the LSU game. Miami, Clemson and Tennessee were the likely other destinations. Teague previously visited Ole Miss in the spring for a junior day and gave the Rebels high marks. The win may have re-kindled interest that had dropped off over the last few months.

"I'm going to keep my eye on Ole Miss, as well as other programs like Vanderbilt," Teague said. "I want to see how they do the rest of the season."

Meanwhile, Roberts has already made two trips to Ole Miss - once for junior day and once for senior camp - and the win has him re-affirming an earlier decision to take an official visit to Ole Miss.

"I haven't made any decisions about official visits, and probably won't set up any dates until after my season," he said. "But I'm definitely going to Ole Miss."

His Starr's Mill team has struggled out the gate with an 0-4 start in several close losses, but Stephens says he's already recorded between 60 and 65 tackles.

Ole Miss' big win obviously has the Rebels picking up some recruiting momentum - and continued winning ways will likely expand the base of prospects who are showing serious interest - but the key will be to keep the highlights coming on Sports Center.

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