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, 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
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. 
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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. 
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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.
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.
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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.
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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  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.
More Signing Day Coverage Links
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