Class Snapshot: Ole Miss

Four-star Garrald McDowell leads a strong defensive line class. (247Sports)
Four-star Garrald McDowell leads a strong defensive line class. (247Sports)

Class Snapshot: Ole Miss (24 commits)

Current Rank: No. 13 nationally, No. 8 Southeastern Conference, (0.8813 average 247Sports Composite Rating)

Top Commit: Offensive guard Roderick Taylor (Jackson, Miss./Callaway) is one of the most athletic interior offensive line prospects in the country. One college recruiter tells the story of watching him play basketball and skying for dunks and rebounds. Oh yeah, he’s pretty good at football, too. Add him to young offensive line talent like freshman All-American tackle Laremy Tunsil and Ole Miss has the makings of an elite group up front on offense in the coming years. The 6-foot-3.5, 305-pound Taylor is the No. 2 offensive guard prospect nationally and No. 47 overall prospect in the Class of 2014 according to 247Sports Composite Rankings.

Class Strength: Defensive Line. Hugh Freeze and his staff know that the key to competing at the highest level in the SEC is having a deep and talented defensive line. Last recruiting cycle, the Rebels had an excellent group led by No. 1 overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche and this cycle they’ve followed it up with four-star defensive end Garrald McDowell (Covington, La.), four-star defensive tackle Breeland Speaks (Jackson, Miss./Callaway) and highly-recruited three-star defensive tackle Chris Williams (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek). Plus, they landed defensive end Marquis Haynes (Fork Union, Va./Fork Union Military) out of prep school and JUCO jumbo athlete Jeremy Liggins (Northwest Mississippi Junior College), both of whom have already enrolled. Liggins plays some quarterback, so where the 6-foot-3, 270-pounder projects to exactly is up in the air, but he has very high upside (probably the highest) on the defensive line. Recent Vanderbilt defensive tackle de-commit Michael Sawyers (Nashville, Tenn./Ensworth) could also end up part of this class, adding even more depth.

Sleeper: Wide receiver Dayall Harris is the third commit from Jackson Callaway, joining Speaks and Taylor. He’s the least-highly regarded of the trio, but the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder shows flashes on film. Ole Miss uses a lot of multi-wide receiver sets, so there’s always an opportunity to get on the field, even with the young talent the Rebels have at the position. It would not be a surprise if by his second year in the program, Harris was contributing and if he gets better and better as his career moves forward.

Top Remaining Target: Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./American Heritage) is the type of diminutive, speedy playmaker out of the Sunshine State that has thrived at Ole Miss in the last half-decade, similar to Dexter McCluster (Tampa) and Jeff Scott (Miami). The 5-foot-9, 167-pound McKenzie plays wide receiver, not running back, like McCluster and Scott did, but is lethal in the return game and with the ball in his hands like those two. Right now, Florida is trending for McKenzie per 247Sports Crystal Ball, but the Rebels will have a shot at blowing him away when he officially visits this weekend.

Remaining Needs: Ole Miss still needs cornerbacks in this class and one of the Rebels top targets, Terrence Alexander (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) officially visits this weekend. Fresh off an official visit to Notre Dame, the Irish are surging with Stanford also in the mix, so Ole Miss will attempt to re-gain momentum and sell Alexander and his family on proximity to home.

Top Recruiter: Running backs coach Derrick Nix is the primary recruiter of record for Taylor, Speaks and Harris at Callaway as well as elite JUCO running back Akeem Judd of Georgia Military College. Nix, a former Southern Mississippi running back, has been at Ole Miss since 2008. He currently ranks as the No. 11 recruiter in the SEC and the No. 18 recruiter nationally according to 247Sports recruiter rankings for the 2014 cycle.

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