CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Mississippi, no joke, makes a big splash on football signing day

Rebels, who have not won a Southeastern Conference title in nearly 50 years, land several prized recruits to steal the thunder from other high-profile schools.

The Southeastern Conference conducted its annual player draft Wednesday in advance of winning its eighth straight national title next season.

There's nothing like national SEC signing day, with other conferences participating the way the Washington Generals participate against the Globetrotters.

OK, that's an incredible, attention-grabbing, inflammatory, hyperbolic reach.

This reign of terror won't go on forever … will it?


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There were a few encouraging push-backs out there as Ohio State, which lured former Florida Coach Urban Meyer out of retirement to make the Buckeyes into an SEC team, ended up battling Alabama and Florida for recruiting-day supremacy.

Two other schools, Notre Dame and Michigan, also finished in the consensus top 10. What these schools also have in common is both were blistered on the field last season by Alabama.

And Alabama isn't getting worse after another incredible day of after-Christmas player shopping.

More disturbing is the fact a school that hasn't won the SEC title in nearly 50 years emerged as the top story of signing day.

Mississippi, which for so many years liked to brag, "We don't produce All-Americas, we produce Miss Americas," had a historic player procurement haul.

It started when the nation's top prospect, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, wearing colorful suspenders, announced on ESPN he would be attending school in Oxford. It helped greatly that his brother Denzel is already on the Rebels' roster, but Nkemdiche's commitment started a downhill barrel roll that didn't end until the fax machines stopped humming.

Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, said 13 of the SEC's 14 schools could claim they had "winning" recruiting days — the exception being recent Big 12 Conference addition Missouri.

"SEC depth is crazy," Farrell said.

But it was Ole Miss that had everyone buzzing. The Rebel recruiting yell was heard as far away as the Miami Heat locker room.

"Ole Miss ain't messing around today," LeBron James tweeted. "Big time recruits coming in. SEC is crazy."

Didn't someone else just say that?

Ole Miss' class ended up No. 5 in RecruitingNation, No. 7 in Rivals.com, ninth in Scout.com and No. 6 in 247sports.com.

Farrell said Mississippi's strike garnered attention because it was sort of like man bites dog.

"Which one of these doesn't belong in the top 10?" Farrell said. "Ole Miss just sticks out."

Among the blue chips joining Nkemdiche are offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil and receiver Laquon Treadwell.

"A year ago if you said the No. 1 wide receiver, the No. 1 player in the country, and the No. 1 offensive lineman were all going to Ole Miss, you'd say, 'You're absolutely crazy,' " Farrell said.

 

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