Hugh Freeze has created plenty of buzz taking Ole Miss back to a bowl after a dismal 2-10 season in 2011, then putting together a top 10 recruiting class for 2013. Lost in the Mississippi and SEC recruiting shuffle was Mississippi State's second consecutive top 25 class that followed a third straight bowl appearance.
Is Ole Miss making such large strides that they will quickly pass the recent success MSU has garnered under Dan Mullen? There is no way of knowing for sure, but we can use some recent similar history as a measure of what may come.
In the 2008 Egg Bowl Ole Miss swept the floor clean with MSU in Oxford - they did just about the same this past fall. A couple of months later both schools had excellent top 25 classes - very similar to this past February.
But what Dan Mullen was able to do with the talent he procured in the 2009 class was much better than what Ole Miss did with theirs. Here are the results for the 2009 recruiting class:
|School||Avg. Ranking||4 & 5 stars||W-L||Egg Bowl Wins||NFL Draft Picks|
Obviously there are still some players still in college from the 2009 classes who will be 5th-year seniors in 2013. Guys like Gabe Jackson (projected 1st round pick), Tyler Russell, Nickoe Whitley, and LaDarius Perkins could all hear their names called in the 2014 NFL Draft. For Ole Miss: D.T. Shackelford and Charles Sawyer have potential to be drafted. So when it's all said and done we may be looking at 10-3 in terms of NFL draft picks.
What's more, the 2009 class for Ole Miss was followed by top 20 classes in 2010 and 2011 while MSU was ranked in the 30s and 40s those years.
What can be said about this? Simple, Dan Mullen takes the talent he gets, develops them into players than can win on the field and then go on to a pro career. Ole Miss takes the talent they get, throws it down the drain and stomps on their NFL dreams.
Ok, that might be a little biased and exaggerated, but you get the point. All the hullabaloo about Hugh Freeze's 2013 class doesn't mean and hill of beans if it doesn't produce on the field. And Ole Miss has a history of recruiting players based solely on their talent and not their work ethic. I'm not judging these new recruits who I don't know, but if this recent history is any indication of what may come - there is nothing to worry about.
Dan Mullen is doing an excellent job of developing players. He is taking a program with little football history to speak of, who is near the bottom of BCS schools in athletic budgets, and getting top 25 recruiting classes that ultimately churn out NFL players. All these NFL draft choices will soon pay off even greater on the recruiting trails as this trend continues...leading to even greater success on the field as Mullen has not missed on many prospects.
Hugh Freeze's recruiting coup is just that - a paper victory based on what recruiting services perceive to be the winner. Don't pencil Ole Miss into the SEC Championship Game before Robert Nkemdiche leaves Oxford. Instead, relax knowing that Coach Mullen has everything under control and Ole Miss is actually in an uphill battle as they try to erase the memories of repeated failed recruiting classes.