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Mississippi's Freeze happy with haul

AP - Sports

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze pulled in another impressive signing class on Wednesday, even if it lacks some of the star power from a year ago.

There wasn't much drama for Freeze, though the Rebels did surprise some by landing Tee Shepard, one of the nation's top junior college defensive backs.

Freeze hopes some of biggest names in the 27-man class, including Shepard, offensive lineman Rod Taylor, defensive lineman Breeland Speaks and receiver Markell Pack, can contribute immediately.

Taylor and Speaks were two of the most highly regarded recruits in Mississippi. The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Taylor was one of the nation's top-rated interior linemen, according to the major recruiting sites.

Rivals and Scout had the Ole Miss class ranked in the teens nationally.

Freeze said this class ''might be better from top to bottom'' than the star-studded class of 2013, which included defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, receiver Laquon Treadwell and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. All three were 5-star recruits and important contributors as freshmen.

But Freeze said the program has finally stockpiled enough talent that several of the program's newest players can take a year or two to develop.

''I sure hope we can redshirt more kids than we were able to the last few years,'' Freeze said. ''It's a sign we're headed in the right direction, getting some kids some more maturity before they have to hit the field.''

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MISSISSIPPI

National rankings (Rivals 18; Scout 14).

Best in class: Rod Taylor, OL, Jackson, Miss. The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Under Armour All-American could help the Rebels right away on the offensive line. He was the consensus top-rated recruit in Mississippi and among the nation's top interior offensive linemen.

Best of the rest: Breeland Speaks, DL, Jackson, Miss., Markell Pack, WR, Purvis, Miss. Speaks and Pack will be expected to compete for playing time quickly. Pack could help fill the void left by WR Donte Moncrief, who declared for the NFL draft last month.

Late addition: Tee Shepard, DB, Fresno, Calif. The Rebels surprised many by landing one of the nation's top junior college defensive backs. He could help immediately at a spot the Rebels need some depth.

Freeze said the recruitment of Shepard intensified during the past week. Shepard was also a Mississippi State target. Freeze said Shepard has some work to do academically, but the coach is optimistic he can be eligible next season.

One that got away: Malachi Dupre, WR, New Orleans. The Rebels wanted Dupre, but it was always a longshot to lure the star receiver from LSU.

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