December 11, 2007

Nutt pinpoints recruiting needs

When Houston Nutt spoke with the media one week ago, he named some areas where he felt Ole Miss needed help.

Nutt found holes on the offensive line at center, in the secondary and at linebacker.

Instead of sprinting out of the gates when he was named Ole Miss head coach, Nutt took his time and evaluated the Rebels' situation.

"You're starting to figure out what our needs are," Nutt said. "That's the number one concern.

"With recruiting, you have these blinders on. You're going 100 miles an hour, and you're trying to fill your needs. Now, I have a better understanding about our needs."

Since meeting with the press, Nutt and his assistants have been busy on the recruiting trail, addressing those needs.

Center

With Corey Actis and Thomas Eckers lost to graduating, Nutt's stressed finding someone to put the ball in Jevan Snead's hands.

Monday, Nutt hosted Northwest Mississippi C.C. lineman Brandon Green. Green told Rebelsports.net Nutt had him snap him the ball in his office, and the former quarterback liked what he saw.

Nutt offered Green a scholarship, and he accepted.

""I love playing center. That's where I have always played," Green said. "I have always wanted to go to school at Ole Miss. There is no better school in the state."

The previous staff had projected redshirt freshman Rishaw Johnson and Daverin Geralds as potential centers next season, and Green should compete with both of them this spring.

Linebacker

Ole Miss won't lose anyone from a group that improved as the season went along. But, there's little question this group needs to get faster and deeper - quickly.

Enter four-star Marlon Walls, an explosive competitor who recent reaffirmed his commitment to Nutt when the new Rebel head coach visited him at home.

"For me to be his first home visit, that means a lot to me," Walls said. "I really like Coach Nutt a lot. He was very easy to talk to, and I'm looking forward to playing for him for the next four years."

The 6-foot-2 Walls gives the Rebels a versatile athlete who can do multiple things well.

"I'm more of a speed linebacker who's hard-hitting," Walls said. "Plus, I can cover because of my speed and height. But, I can still come up and like to make plays."

Two-star linebacker Josh Chestang recently said he's still firm in his commitment. Ole Miss may also soon be hosting three-star linebacker Jacoby Thomas for a visit.

Ole Miss commitment Gavin Hardin said Sunday that he hadn't been contacted by the new Ole Miss staff, but he wasn't too concerned that the Rebels were cooling on him.

Ole Miss coaches could be visiting Hardin's school as soon as today.

There will be immediate chances for someone to come and make an impact at the position.

Tight end

The Rebels lose Robert Lane and Robert Hough to graduation, leaving them thin at the position.

Nutt's addressed this by looking at the junior-college ranks. Gerald Harris, from Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas. Nutt visited Harris at home Sunday.

"It was a great visit," Harris said. "I really liked Coach Nutt a lot. Coach Nutt believes in having a great relationship with his players and coaches. That's easy to see after visiting with him for a short time."

At 6-foot-5, Harris would give Snead a big pass-catching target. Harris visited Connecticut Wednesday and has an official visit scheduled at Miami later this week. Harris officially visited Ole Miss back in November.

Like Green, Harris could sign early and enroll in January.

Ole Miss returns David Traxler at tight end, and sophomore Cecil Frison has worked some at the position. The status of Ole Miss commitment Jamal Mosely is unknown after Ed Orgeron's firing.

There's opportunity here for a newcomer to earn immediate playing time.

Secondary

Another spot where the Rebels don't lose too much (Nate Banks), Nutt said he wants to add depth to his defensive secondary.

It appears the Rebels have targeted a pair of versatile athletes who Ole Miss could use in a variety of ways.

Green's teammate at Northwest, Daniel Thomas, recently hosted Tony Hughes for a visit, and the versatile player projects as a big-time safety. Thomas could also spend time in the Rebel backfield.

Ole Miss has also been hot on the trail for Alonzo Lawrence, who Hughes and Ron Dickerson Jr. visited last week.

"Coach Dickerson is a very cool coach and easy to talk to," Lawrence said. "I enjoyed their visit a lot."

Ole Miss will have added depth with Jamison Hughes and Jamariey Atterberry, who both redshirted.

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