CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

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

What has separated the SEC from others in the last decade is extraordinary interior line talent. Alabama's offensive line blew Notre Dame halfway back to South Bend, Ind., in last month's Bowl Championship Series title rout, and there is no defensive lineman anywhere within a country mile of South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.

Nkemdiche gives Ole Miss that kind of potential stopper presence, although we'll certainly hold judgment until the Rebels actually play a game. Ole Miss finished only 7-6 last year, 3-5 in the rugged SEC West. The Rebels got blown out at home, 66-31, by a Texas team that amassed 767 yards.

"I think today has the possibility of being a program changer," third-year Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze said.

Not surprisingly, Oxford being in the South, some people are convinced Ole Miss must have cheated to score this kind of recruiting class. The chatter got so loud Freeze took to Twitter last week to challenge social media to a cyberspace fight.

"If you have facts about a violation, sent it to compliance@olemiss.edu," Freeze tweeted. "If not, please do not slander these young men or insult their family."

Freeze had to remove the post after the school got bombarded with slanderous accusations and multitudes of insults directed toward the players' families. Ah, life in the SEC.

First-year Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema found out first-hog-hand. His recruiting class was supposed to include top running back Alex Collins out of Florida. Collins, though, didn't sign as scheduled, and it was rumored his mother stole his letter of intent because she did not want him to leave the state.

What about the other leagues?

Well, Ohio State and Michigan carried top-10 days for a Big Ten Conference that would still probably rather talk about Big Ten basketball.

And, if you didn't know better, you'd think the Pac-12 Conference was reclassified to Football Championship Subdivision. UCLA had an outstanding day, cracking the top 10 in many guessing indexes while clearly surpassing USC for premature bragging rights. UCLA may have even added enough good players to beat Baylor in a Holiday Bowl.

USC, if you believe rankings, played the end of recruiting about as well as it did the Sun Bowl. The Trojans had more "decommits" than Taylor Swift.

Stanford, coming off its first Rose Bowl win in four decades, placed No. 63 in the Rival.com ratings. Don't panic, Cardinal fans, you signed a small, 12-player class and have 14 starters back from a team that could definitely still beat Ole Miss.

Oregon, the Fiesta Bowl champion, never needed top-10 classes to win under Chip Kelly and is apparently taking the same approach with new Coach Mark Helfrich. Oregon finished in the No. 20 rankings range but was able to flip defensive end Torrodney Prevot from USC.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com


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