Ole Miss football is sitting atop the entire nation in recruiting for the 2019 class. That’s right. No. 1. As in no other team in the SEC or the Big Ten or anywhere else in the country has recruits as good as the Ole Miss Rebels. This may come as a shock given the grilling this team has received from the NCAA over the course of the past year, but it is assuredly true.
The Rebels were sitting at No. 3 last week before a three-day stretch of pure glory from head coach Matt Luke and his recruiters helped the Rebels secure commitments from a laundry list of the nation’s top recruits. The list includes four-star quarterback Grant Tisdale, four-star athlete Diwun Black, three-star safety Jay Stanley and three-star safety Braxton Ragland. These players will join the likes of Jerrion Ealy, the No. 4 RB in his class, and the No. 12, 13 and 14 JUCO players in the country.
This is not to mention players such as Matt Corral and Elijah Moore flipping from other SEC programs to join the team for the 2018 class. Seeing players of this quality join the Rebels during times of strife is absolutely remarkable. The “Mississippi Made” campaign from Luke seems to be working better than he could have ever imagined. If he maintains this clip, the program is headed toward some seriously special times.
There is not a single person, except maybe Luke himself, who thought that this would happen. Even so, haters and doubters remain. However, there is one person who has hopped on the Matt Luke train and is riding it to some very hot takes. That man is Paul Finebaum of ESPN’s SEC Network.
Every week, Finebaum appears on WJOX-FM’s segment “The Round Table.” This Monday, he made some bold claims about Luke and Ole Miss football that shocked the hosts of the show and the rest of the college football world. When asked who he would rather “buy stock in” out of Luke of Ole Miss or Chad Morris of Arkansas, he chose Luke.
“I’d probably go Matt Luke,” Finebaum said. “To me, what Chad Morris is trying to do looks easy, but it’s not. I really have concerns about it. Not him. I think he’s an excellent coach, but I have concerns about that program.”
Moreover, he went on to point out that what Luke has been able to do in the context of a season in which the team went 6-6 before having to face yet another season with a bowl ban is “remarkable.”
Finebaum said Luke doesn’t let anything get in the way.
“I think it’s a remarkable story, because a year ago, all we were talking about was how bad this program was trending and whether Hugh Freeze would survive,” Finebaum said. “The fact that they’re getting positive vibes out of Oxford is remarkable, and I give him a lot of credit. But I also give Ross Bjork a lot of credit for going with someone who, on the surface, did not look like he was ready to become a head coach. Until you look under the surface and find out how deep his roots are with that program and really how long he’s been understudying at Ole Miss. He was, quite frankly, much more ready for that job than I thought he was.”
That is high praise for someone who has devoted much of his life and career to covering SEC sports. This kind of talk is certainly encouraging for Luke, and it’s undeniably encouraging for anyone looking for a light at the end of the Ole Miss football tunnel.