Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze wants to make sure the Rebels get back to winning, but in order to do that, he needs players. So, instead of picking a handful of players to recruit, Freeze and his staff have blanketed the country with offers — 241 offers (and counting) to be exact.
That's right, Ole Miss has 241 verbal offers out to fill 25-30 spots for the 2013 class.
"You have to recruit nationally," Freeze told the Clarion-Ledger. "I think you can do that at Ole Miss, but in order to do that you got to get into the game with them."
Of course, the majority of those offered are some of the elite recruits in the country and many of them have committed to other places, but Ole Miss has no chance of snagging the elite if it doesn't offer. And so far Freeze's blanket approach has paid some dividends. The Rebels have 10 commitments for the 2013 class and three of those players are four-star recruits, according to Rivals.
The majority of the recruits are regional — two from Mississippi, two from Tennessee, two from Louisiana and one from Georgia — but there also are commitments from Indiana, Texas and California.
"I think we're in the top five for 10 or so kids that are national guys," Freeze told the paper. "Now what does top five mean? Probably nothing in of itself, other than we got a shot at getting a trip. If we get a trip, you got a chance. We have to do well here locally, but certainly if you can get a guy that can impact your program you really don't care where he comes from."
While 241 might seem like a high number, Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst from Rivals.com, said it's not uncommon because verbal offers aren't worth much.
"Of course it looks insane and out of control to have 241 offers (our database count at last check) for a class of between 25 and 30 players, but these offers mean as much as the paper they are printed on (none)," Farrell said in an email. "Coaches can now hand out offers like candy on Halloween with few repercussions if a prospect tries to commit and they turn him down."
Farrell said schools are throwing out more verbal offers these days because of the NCAA's decision to push back the date written offers can be doled out. In the summer of 2010, the NCAA changed the written offer date from Sept. 1 of a recruit's junior season to Aug. 1 of their senior year. This means universities can show a recruit it's interested, but not be locked in to giving a scholarship if something better comes along.
"Until the NCAA corrects the mistake they made by pushing back the written offer date, this will continue to happen," Farrell said. "Schools like Mississippi State, Tennessee, Ole Miss and others have gone overboard yes, but I think this is less an issue of a certain head coach going off the rails than it is a change in policy by the NCAA that was designed to slow down the recruiting process and has done the exact opposite."
But Freeze doesn't look at it that way. He said the verbal offers are a way to gauge interest and to figure out which guys are worth pursuing and which ones should be left alone.
Recruiting is a hit-and-miss affair, especially for a program that went 2-10 last season and is in the midst of a 15-game SEC losing streak. Those things alone can subject the Rebels to negative recruiting from other schools, so sending out as many feelers as possible might not be such a bad thing.
"If you're not in the game, you got no chance at hitting a home run," Freeze told the paper. "You have to get up to the plate."
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