As all college football fans know, recruiting never sleeps.
With National Signing Day 2016 in the books, the focus now shifts to the Class of 2017, and Wednesday’s events will definitely factor how Ole Miss’ class will look next February.
Expect the Rebels to make the front seven their top priority. Seventeen of Ole Miss’ 24 signees were offensive players, so defense will definitely be the point of emphasis for the Rebels’ coaching staff.
Here are five players to know as the heat begins to turn up for rising high school seniors around the country:
Four-star running back Cam Akers
Mississippi’s top player for next year’s class is four-star running back Cam Akers. The Clinton High School product is committed to Alabama, but Ole Miss will undoubtedly be in the mix for Akers’ signature until next February. At 5-foot-11, 210-pounds, Akers is a good-sized running back that has all the tools to excel at the next level. If the Rebels landed Akers, it would be the fourth-straight year Ole Miss signed a player who had previously been committed to the Crimson Tide. Akers is the No. 4 running back in the country and the No. 41 overall prospect.
Four-star wide receiver D.D. Bowie
Ole Miss’ only commitment so far in next year’s class is four-star wide receiver D.D. Bowie. The Morton (Miss.) High School product pledged his commitment to the Rebels last October. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder is an elite playmaker who could help the Ole Miss coaching staff recruit other top talent. Bowie is the No. 9 wide receiver in the country, the No. 2 player in Mississippi and the No. 52 overall prospect.
Four-star linebacker Willie Gay
As stated above, linebacker will be at the top of Ole Miss’ priority list for next year’s class, and four-star linebacker Willie Gay will be among its top targets. It will be tough to pull the Starkville (Miss.) High School product away from his hometown Mississippi State. However the Rebels have had recent success there, as they landed four-star wide receiver A.J. Brown from Starkville on Wednesday. At 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, Gay is the No. 14 outside linebacker in the nation, the No. 4 player in the state of Mississippi and the No. 203 overall prospect.
Four-star quarterback Tristan Gebbia
Ole Miss just signed the nation’s top quarterback for the class of 2016 in Shea Patterson, but the Rebels also may have the inside track for four-star signal caller Tristan Gebbia. The Calabasas (Calif.) High School product recently named Ole Miss among his top five, and the Rebels have a connection with Gebbia, whose father Rich played tight end at Ole Miss. Gebbia is also a high school teammate of five-star cornerback Darnay Holmes, four-star athlete Jermani Brown and four-star wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, Jr., so the Rebels may have some natural ins on those prospects as well if they land Gebbia. The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder is the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the nation, the No. 13 player in California and the No. 123 overall prospect.
Four-star wide receiver Tee Higgins
Another top-50 player who Ole Miss will likely be in the mix for is four-star wide receiver Tee Higgins. Higgins, who de-committed from Tennessee on Thursday, will be tough to get away from the Vols with him being 25 miles from Knoxville, Tenn., but it’s hard to count the Rebels out these days when it comes to elite wide receivers. Higgins, a6-foot-5, 190-pound Oak Ridge (Tenn.) High School product, is the No. 7 wide receiver in the nation, the No. 3 player in Tennessee and the No. 39 player in the country
All player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.