Hugh Freeze knows that not every explanation for how his program landed two of the top three prospects in the class of 2013 and the nation's No. 6 overall class is going to speak well of Ole Miss. That's why he'd probably like to point critics and rumormongers to this tweet from 2014 Plainfield, Ill., linebacker Clifton Garrett:
A four-star recruit and the No. 39 overall player in the new 247Sports 2014 top 247, Garrett is set to become one of the most highly sought-after prospects for Signing Day 2014. And from that same tweet, here's the photographic proof -- both of the interest from the Rebels and from elsewhere.
Why 54 letters? Because 53 is too few and 55 too many, no doubt.
In any case, Freeze and Co. aren't the first team to adopt the mass-mailing approach. It was right around this time last year that Norcross, Ga., running back Alvin Kamara revealed Alabama had sent him more than 100 such letters. That Kamara would go on to sign with the Tide over the in-state Bulldogs likely goes a long way to explain why the Rebels would adopt the approach themselves.
The obvious in-your-face excessiveness from mailings like Kamara's and Garrett's illustrates the catch-22 in which the NCAA finds itself when it comes to monitoring recruiting, regulation expert John Infante writes:
On the one hand, Ole Miss shows you that schools cannot be trusted to set reasonable limits even when a recruiting activity is as tightly regulated as printed materials are ... The one area with wiggle room is the number you can send to a prospect. Ole Miss (and many other programs) took that sliver of an open door and shoved it off the hinges ...
On the other hand, it also shows that the existing rules are ineffective in preventing schools from sending a lot of mail. There is no way the NCAA would regulate the frequency of mailing things to prospects. It is far too expensive and difficult to monitor. So if mailings will be unlimited, why spend the additional time and money to check them against rules about how big the paper can be and how many sides have color printing?
In other words: As long as recruits continue to respond positively to such displays, expect them to become the norm rather than an exception.
HT: Crystal Ball Run