After a brief stint at the top of the nation, Ole Miss’ 2019 recruiting class has now fallen to fifth. The four-spot drop was inevitable; two weeks ago, the Rebels had 14 recruits signed to their 2019 class. By comparison, the Oklahoma Sooners, who now have the first-ranked class according to 24/7 Sports, had four 2019 recruits at the time. As other top schools continue to add recruits, Ole Miss will probably fall even further.
That is not to say Matt Luke and the rest of the coaching staff have been slacking. Aside from assembling the 31st-best 2018 class of recruits – no small feat considering the NCAA’s investigation and its resulting sanctions – Luke has monopolized Mississippi’s top rising seniors. Headlining the 15-member 2019 class is a trio of difference-makers.
Jerrion Ealy, a running back from Flowood, was the first four-star recruit to commit his college career to Oxford. At just 5-feet, 9-inches, Ealy relies on his explosiveness to find gaps all over the field. In his 2017 season at Jackson Prep, Ealy rushed for 1,743 yards and had 45 touchdowns, 32 of which were rushing touchdowns. There’s a catch, however, for Ealy plays baseball in addition to playing football. Last year, Perfect Game USA ranked Ealy the third-best baseball recruit in the 2019 class. Ealy is committed to playing both sports at Ole Miss, but whether he will ever see the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium remains to be seen.
Having received plenty of attention from top schools around the country, Diwun Black, another four-star recruit from Mississippi, eventually chose Mississippi State over Ole Miss last September. However, Luke convinced the talented 6-foot, 4-inch safety to visit Oxford in February 2018, and Black decommitted from the Bulldogs on March 4. A month later, Black flipped his commitment to Ole Miss. A talented athlete and jack-of-all-trades, Black spent much of his time at Forest High School at the receiver and safety positions. Many experts project that if he can add weight to his 212-pound frame, Black will be a potential difference-maker at linebacker.
The third and final four-star recruit signed to Ole Miss’ 2019 class is Grant Tisdale, a native of Allen, Texas. Tisdale is a dual-threat quarterback that offensive coordinator Phil Longo hand-selected to lead the class.Though he stands just 6-foot, 1-inch tall, on the short side for a prototypical quarterback, Tisdale makes up for it with his razor-sharp footwork and cannon of an arm. Tisdale also scored 45 touchdowns in 2017, 30 of which came through the air, and threw just three interceptions on 188 passing attempts. Though U.S. Army All-American Matt Corral headlines the Rebels’ 2018 class, Tisdale will surely push him for playing time in 2019 and beyond.
Ole Miss’ 2019 class, as good as it may be, was never going to stay on top. Its brief stint at the top of national rankings was more a product of quantity than quality. As teams like Alabama and Georgia build their own classes, the Rebel class will fall probably fall even further than fifth, but Luke is accomplishing something special in Oxford, thanks largely to his “Mississippi Made” slogan. By focusing on in-state recruits and building a real culture of success in Oxford, he is restoring Ole Miss’ reputation as a destination football school in the SEC.