LAKE CITY, Fla. -- For the longest time, the race for Laremy Tunsil was believed to be between Alabama and Georgia.
When the nation's top-ranked offensive tackle visited Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Athens, Ga., on successive weekends in January, most believed a decision was imminent.
Tunsil, however, had one official visit left. Those 48 hours in Oxford, Miss., changed his life and helped Ole Miss land one of the most stunning victories of the 2012-13 recruiting season.
"It was hard to go against Alabama and Georgia," Tunsil said. "When I told Coach (Hugh) Freeze I was going to Ole Miss, he started kissing me. I committed to them in my in-home visit. I told them, 'I want to be a Rebel.'"
Tunsil, ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 14 overall prospect, is the third five-star prospect to commit and sign with Ole Miss this season. The Rebels landed a commitment from wide receiver Laquon Treadwell last month in Crete, Ill., and then picked up defensive end Robert Nkemdiche earlier this morning in Loganville, Ga.
"I haven't talked to (Nkemdiche) yet, but I feel pretty good about it," Tunsil said. "I feel pretty good about it. We could have the No. 1 recruiting class, and that's what I'm looking forward to."
Tunsil, a 6-foot-6, 295-pounder, is expected to challenge for very early playing time at Ole Miss. The Rebels' offensive line was scary thin in 2012, getting through the season with seven primary contributors up front.
"I'll be a hard-working player," Tunsil said. "I'm a down and dirty player, but I have to get adjusted to the spread offense."
Tunsil said his relationship with Ole Miss defensive line coach Chris Kiffin kept the Rebels in the mix for his services all fall. His official visit to Oxford vaulted the Rebels to the top of his list, and an in-home visit from Hugh Freeze and Co. last week sealed the deal.
"Me and Chris Kiffin have been talking for a year, and when they came for the in-home visit, I decided Ole Miss was where I wanted to be."