OIe Miss signed 25 players on Wednesday, putting most of the hay in the barn in terms of filling out its 2019 signing class. The Rebels still have the ability to sign 5-7 kids in February and will target some specific needs, but the bulk of the class is already in place. With that in mind, let’s take a look at who has the best chance to run into immediate playing time and help the team on the field next fall.
- Sam Williams – DE – Northeast Mississippi Community College.
William is the best player Ole Miss signed on Wednesday. He was a 2018 NJCAA First Team All-American in a season that saw him compile 75 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks. Williams is a dynamic pass rusher with a great deal of athleticism
“He is one of the most athletic players I have ever seen,” defensive line coach Freddie Roach said. “He will continue to develop into a great pass rusher.”
He was a highly coveted recruit by a number of SEC schools and will most likely instantly make an impact for the Rebels at defensive end. Ole Miss lost Marquis Haynes and Breeland Speaks to the NFL after the 2017 season and struggled to generate a consistent pass rush, particularly from the outside in 2018. Williams has a chance to change the quickly.
2. Dannis Jackson – WR – Sumrall
Jackson was the highest rated in-state prospect Ole Miss signed. He’s a 2019 Under Amour All-American and a consensus four-star recruit. Jackson is a deep threat with a lot of speed that the coaching staff is excited about.
“I think he will have a role early just because of his speed and his explosion,” head coach Matt Luke said. “I think as far as punt returning, kick returning, speed sweeps, receiver, he can do a lot of different things. He’s very, very dynamic and definitely one of the top two or three receivers in the state for this class and in this country, so I’m really, really excited about Dannis.”
Jackson was a three-sport athlete in high school and in a year in which Ole Miss waves goodbye to A.J. Brown, Damarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf, Jackson could make an impact for the offense in a variety of different ways next fall.
3. Jonathan Haynes – S – Jones County JC
With the loss of Zedrick Woods and C.J. Moore, Haynes has a chance to have a role in the Rebels’ secondary immediately. He’s a versatile safety with good range enough speed to cover quick receivers and is also effective in helping the run defense.
“Jonathan is really athletics and does a great job covering slot receivers,” safeties coach Jason Jones said. “He is a big, physical safety that can cover and also stop the run.”
Haynes totaled 44 tackles and three picks during his sophomore season at Jones and is a nice piece for new defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre.
4. Darius Thomas – OL – Jonesboro, Ark
Ole Miss’ other consensus four star prospect in this class is Thomas. The Rebels lose Sean Rawlings, Javon Patterson and Greg Little on the offensive line, a big reason why the program signed seven offensive linemen in this class. A lot of times, offensive linemen come into programs needing to gain weight and get stronger to handle the rigors of the Southeastern Conference and really just major college football in general. That is not the case with Thomas, who stands at a towering 6-foo-6, 340 pounds.
“Darius is an extremely impressive player with long arms and great work ethic,” offensive line coach Bicknell Jr. said. “He is a prototypical left tackle and just a physical specimen. He has a bright future.”
Ole Miss still has a few options to replace the aforementioned trio on the offensive line and it is no guarantee Thomas will play immediately, but he’s certainly physically ready which is not always the case with offensive line prospects coming out of high school.