Monday, February 4, 2013
Hugh Freeze challenges critics to speak
By Edward Aschoff
What Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and his staff have done with this 2013 class is nothing short of remarkable. The Rebels currently have 22 commitments, with two being ESPN 150 members and seven being ESPN 300 members.
For a school that went to -- and won -- a bowl game for the first time since 2009 and had just six total wins in the two years prior to Freeze's arrival, Ole Miss has a chance to close with a top-10 recruiting class on Wednesday. That sort of turnaround might be impressive, but it has raised some questions about Ole Miss' recruiting tactics.
And Hugh Freeze isn't too happy about that.
On Friday, Freeze took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the haters, and asked them to send all of their grievances concerning Ole Miss recruiting to the Rebels' compliance office:
"If you have facts about a violation, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org," Freeze tweeted. "If not, please do not slander these young men or insult their family."
Freeze isn't brushing this off. He's challenging those who feel there's something fishy about the way he and his staff are recruiting prospects. It's a bold move by Freeze because he could be opening up the floodgates if anything improper has happened, but he's making it clear that he feels everything has been done the right way when it comes to the recruiting process.
When you look at what Ole Miss has gone through in the last few years, it's not surprising that people are suspicious about what's going on in Oxford. The Rebels were irrelevant for two years before Freeze's arrival. They went from whiffing on top prospects to being the center of attention for them.
The Rebels reeled in the nation's top wide receiver in Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee), have a commitment from the nation's No. 4 defensive end in Elijah Daniel (Avon, Ind.) and they're the frontrunner for the nation's No. 1 player, defense end Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson).
Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), the nation's top offensive tackle, is now seriously considering Ole Miss and so are No. 2 safety Antonio Conner (Batesville, Miss./South Panola) and Mississippi State defensive end commit Chris Jones (Houston, Miss.).
Ole Miss has a chance to bring in arguably the school's most decorated recruiting class on Wednesday. This class would have elite status, and it's raising questions. Just look at what Tunsil's head coach said about Ole Miss' recruiting success :
"That's the No. 1 question out there right now," Brian Allen said. "Not only for myself but for all these other college programs that are out there -- for a lot of people. They are wondering what's going on, and I don't know. You have to take a look and say before you start to think about the negative side of it -- and for a lot of people, that's the first thing they will go to -- you have to look at who the guys are that are going on the road and talking to these kids. ...
It also didn't help when a picture of Treadwell allegedly holding a stack of money of at least $300 was posted on Instagram. The photo was quickly deleted.
Jones, who has been committed to Mississippi State since last June, tried to secretly visit Ole Miss over the weekend. He spent the last few days traveling back and forth from Houston, Oxford and Starkville.
Jones originally told reporters the he didn't visit Ole Miss.
“This weekend I really felt like I was at the point where I need to make a lifetime decision, and I am grown up enough to make my own choice without anyone telling me where I can and cannot go,” Jones told ESPN recruiting analyst Kipp Adams.
Jones' long weekend came with some backlash from both Mississippi State and Ole Miss fans, as he said he "received death threats, insane messages, you name it."
Gotta love it when fans taking the decision of a young man's future so personally ...
Speaking of visits, Nkemdiche officially visited LSU with the Super Bowl taking place down the road in New Orleans. Talk about living the life.
He met Shaq while out at dinner, but he's still considered a very, very heavy lean to Ole Miss, where his older brother, Denzel, plays linebacker.
Ole Miss is set to have a historic signing day, but it will come with some questions. That's fine. If anything is going on, Freeze wants to know about it, and he's challenging skeptics to speak now.