An earlier version of this story should have reported that Kentrel Bullock was a running back from Columbia, MS, not Columbus, MS.
Since the university announced that Matt Luke would not return as the head football coach, several recruits from the 2020 class — including four-star defensive back Eric Reed Jr. — flipped their commitment from the team.
Ole Miss held the No. 23 recruiting class in the country before firing Luke. With 18 days until the early signing period begins, a fleet of assistant coaches, unsure of their own futures, will try to salvage this year’s recruiting class.
Along with Reed, Kentrel Bullock, Kyjuan Herndon, Lakevias Daniel, Jabari Small and Jaqwondis Burns have decommitted from Ole Miss with the early signing period starting on Dec. 18.
Reed is the highest-ranked recruit Ole Miss has lost. The four-star recruit from Louisiana announced his decommitment on Monday afternoon.
“This decision wasn’t easy but due to the coaching uncertainty at Ole Miss I’m reopening my recruitment,” Reid wrote on Twitter. “Once again I want to thank you for recruiting me.”
Herndon, a running back from Jacksonville, Florida, was the first player to decommit after the firing of Matt Luke and, reopened his recruitment on Monday.
“It wasn’t a easy decision, but with God, My family and Coaches, I have announced I have decommitted from the University of Mississippi and reopening my recruitment,” he said on Twitter.
Although six 2020 players have officially decommitted from Ole Miss football since Luke’s firing, some high school seniors have remained committed to the Rebels for next fall, though some were disappointed in the decision.
DeSanto Rollins, a 2020 Ole Miss commit, said his faith played a large role in his attraction to the Ole Miss football program and Luke. Rollins plans on staying committed to Ole Miss.
“God and my family are most important to me,” Rollins said. “Coach Luke was a man of faith and a family man. He loved the sport of football and the importance of getting a quality education. He wanted to ensure that he had the best assistants to make us the best athletes in the world.”
Rollins, a defensive tackle from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, shared his disappointment on social media when he received news of Luke’s firing. Along with multiple retweets expressing his disappointment, Rollins also shared a photo of himself and Luke, thanking him.
“I’ve seen what happened to Coach Luke all of my life,” Rollins said. “Even as an elementary student, coaches would get fired. So I guess that’s the downside of coaching. The relationships they build with players doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration. I think that God has a greater plan for Coach Luke and he will soar to higher heights.”
“Being a part of a young, talented team is quite exciting,” Rollins also said. “I love the fact that several freshmen got lots of playing time. It shows that if you go there and (put) in the work and effort, the sky is the limit.”
Columbia running back Bullock also announced his decommitment on Twitter on Monday.
Lakevias Daniel, a defensive back from Jones County Junior College, committed to Luke and Ole Miss in June. The three-star picked up an offer from Tennessee on Monday.
“I also wanna thank the University of Mississippi for giving me the chance to appreciate like even more & to continue my career in football,” Daniel wrote on Twitter. “However, I have decided to reopen my recruitment. I look forward to exploring as many opportunities as possible.”
Linebacker Jaqwondis Burns from IMG Academy switched his pledge after committing to Ole Miss last spring.
“Unfortunately due to the circumstances surrounding @HottyToddy football I will be de-committing from the University of Ole Miss,” Burns wrote on Twitter on Monday afternoon. “Thank you so much (Coach Jeff) Koonz for recruiting me at two universities, and to all the staff that recruited me.”
With seven potential prospects already off the board, the Ole Miss football program is in danger of more decommitments and transfer moves.
With Luke out, it is likely that the rest of his coaching staff will look for new jobs as well since a new head coach might want to bring in his or her own staff. Luke was on a recruiting trip when the news of his firing broke. While Luke traveled back to Oxford, the rest of the assistant coaches remained on the road to talk to prospects. The effects of the coaching decision have already hit the class of 2020.