January 20, 2009

Four-star defensive end set for Ole Miss visit

It's been a long few days for Chicago defensive end Craig Drummond, and that's had nothing to do with the brutal cold that has whipped through the Windy City.

Four days after learning that he would not be accepted for admission to Illinois, however, things are looking up for the four-star prospect ranked as the nation's No. 4 pass rusher by Rivals.com.

On Monday night, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt and Rebel recruiting coordinator/cornerbacks coach Chris Vaughn visited the Drummond family in Chicago. From the prospect's father's perspective, that visit couldn't have gone much better.

"It was beautiful," Craig Drummond Sr. said. "It was great."

Over the weekend, after Ole Miss made contact with Drummond late last week and set up an official visit that will begin on Friday, the Drummonds did their homework on the Ole Miss program, Nutt and the University of Mississippi. They had some help. Several of the Drummonds' extended family live in Cotton Plant, Ark., and are long-time Arkansas fans. Given Nutt's 10-year tenure as top Hog, the family gave him a glowing endorsement to the 6-foot-5, 260-pound prospect.

"My family, my aunts, sisters, brothers from Arkansas just speak highly of him," Drummond Sr. said. "Just by meeting him, I can see the sincerity. We do our homework. It's been like, 'Wow.'"

As for Drummond's college plans, the family is torn somewhere between trying to hurry to a new choice and trying to be patient.

"It's good," Drummond Sr. said. "My son is worn out and his mom is worn out. Right now, we're being patient, but it's a beautiful feeling right now with Coach (Nutt) and Ole Miss. We're just taking it real smooth. I can't explain it. I'm geeked. You know how it is? It's real good for Ole Miss."

Drummond, his father said, still plans to enroll in his college of choice this semester.

"We've got really until Jan. 31," Drummond Sr. said. "After this week, we might have maybe six days to play with."

Drummond, who committed to Illinois last summer, told Rivals.com earlier this week that he has "opened up my recruiting with Illinois and I'm looking again at my options. Some things have gone on with Illinois that I just don't feel like talking about, to be honest. I'm going to make my official visit this coming weekend with Ole Miss and I'll see how things go from there. …I'm just not sure right now to be honest. I want to just head out, make another official visit and see how things feel after that visit. I haven't set any other official visits just yet with any other schools. The 30th, I guess, is a possibility, but I haven't even looked that far just yet."

Drummond and his mother, Virginia Clarke, will make the trip to Oxford Friday. Several other programs, including Tennessee, Minnesota and Michigan State, have expressed interest in getting a visit on Jan. 30.

Drummond, a U.S. Army All-American selection, recorded 67 tackles and 18 quarterback sacks as a junior before missing most of his senior season with a broken leg. Throw in last week's change of plans, and this could have been a sad time for the Drummond family. That's not the case.

"A smile's on my face," Drummond Sr. said. "That's all I can say. It's a great sensation for me as well as for him. We don't want any more hurt."

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