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February 16, 2009

Ole Miss signing day analysis

The ink is dry on the 2009 signing class and the question is how did Ole Miss do in addressing immediate and future needs with this year's signing class. In an eight part series, RebelSports.net looked at each position, at returning players, what the needs where and how the Rebels recruited to fill those needs. Use the links below to view all eight position analysis articles to see how the Rebels fared.

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Reviews free to read: Wide receivers/tight ends: Ole Miss loses only one wide receiver - All-SEC performer Mike Wallace - but recruited the position like there was no tomorrow. And, it paid off. The Rebels hauled in four wide receivers with them all having height and speed in common. All three are in the 6-foot-3 range and have been clocked in the sub 4.5 range. Click to continue ...

Defensive line: Ole Miss' defensive line was thought to be the strength of the team headed into the 2008 season, and it didn't disappoint, finishing fourth in run defense and averaging almost nine tackles for a loss per game. The Rebels return a mountain of talent. What was most needed from the 2009 signing class was to bring in talent that can be groomed to replace the likes of seniors Hardy and Tillman and Lockett, a junior. The staff did that. Click to continue ...

Other reviews: Quarterbacks: It's no small coincidence that from 2004 through the 2007 season, Ole Miss had losing seasons and in each of those years those teams struggled at quarterback. The performance of Jevan Snead, development of Nathan Stanley, and steadiness of BillyTapp left the Rebels in a position where the staff desired a quarterback for depth and for the future, but not in a panic situation where they felt forced to sign one. When four-star Raymond Cotton became available, it was an ideal situation for both prospect and school. Click to continue ...

Running backs: A year ago the Rebels were headed into spring practice and one of the big questions was who was going to replace back-to-back 1,000 yard rusher Benjarvus Green-Ellis. It seemed like an almost insurmountable situation then, but now the concern almost seems laughable after the Rebels fell just short of running for 2,500 yards (net) last season enroute to a 9-4 record. It quickly became apparent in the recruiting process that Nutt had no shortage of prospects wanting to line up in his backfield and despite not losing a single player from 2008, he signed at least five prospects who could end up carrying the football for Ole Miss. Click to continue ...

Offensive line: It remains a mystery exactly how he's doing it, but it appears Houston Nutt is losing a few players here and there and bringing in nearly twice as many prospects to replace them. That's certainly the case with the offensive line where Nutt lost Michael Oher, Darryl Harris, and Maurice Miller and brings in potentially as many as six prospects to replace them. When signing day ended, the Rebels had signed six prospects who will certainly give offensive line coach Mike Markuson a much bigger pool from which to fill needs along the line. CLick to continue ...

Linebackers: Ole Miss lost a couple of big time linebackers in Tony Fein and Ashlee Palmer and while there's plenty of returning players with starting experience, the Rebels could be in need of a linebacker or two who impacts in the fall. Ole Miss signed five prospects - one four-star recruit and four three-star rated prospects - one or more whom could see playing time this fall. The Rebels have plenty of starting experience, but depth could be an issue if the injury bug strikes. The staff could look at some other players on the roster in the spring to help add depth to the position. Click to continue ...

Defensive backs: Ole Miss' pass defense started slow - giving up big passing games to Memphis, Wake Forest, and South Carolina - but improved over the course of the season and finished No. 81 among Division I teams giving up around 225 yards a game through the air. However, a lot of the pass defense wasn't always as a result of stellar secondary play as much as it was a very decent linebacker corps pass coverage as well as a defensive line that put relentless pressure on opposing quarterbacks (39 sacks on the season to finish fourth nationally). Like most other positions, Ole Miss didn't take a lot of losses after the 2008 season, but the concern remains about height in the secondary and the 2009 recruiting class addressed that concern. Click to continue ...

Kickers: The fact that Ole Miss has eight athletes listed on the roster at various kicker positions didn't stop the Rebels from from signing two prospects - a punter and a kicker - to meet future needs. One of those signees will look to replace Rob Park, who departed after last season, and the other will try to be kicker Josh Shene's long term replacement. Click to continue ...

Now that signing day is over, what's coming on RebelSports.net? In addition to the in-depth analysis just completed, we have already started rolling out initial interviews profiling some of the top prospects for 2010. And on Feb. 28, we've have detailed coverage of Ole Miss' Junior Day. Stay tuned for baseball and basketball coverage as well as football player profiles and updates. It's year round coverage you don't want to miss - including coverage of spring football practice - which is right around the corner.

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