Not a subscriber and want indepth coverage of Ole Miss recruiting? RebelSports.net's Neal McCready reported on Friday that Gabriel Hunter was close to committing - and on Monday, that's exactly what happened. If you want that type of recruiting scoop daily, give RebelSports.net a try. Click here to take advantage of the RebelSports.net's 7-Day Free Trial and get all the the latest on Ole Miss athletics.
The 5-foot-11, 174-pound speedster from Memphis (Kingsbury), Tenn., looked around, but he kept coming back to the same conclusion: Everything he was looking for in a college home was right down the road in Oxford, Miss.
So Hunter called Ole Miss running backs coach Derrick Nix Monday afternoon and informed him of his desire to play for the Rebels.
"I told him I was ready to commit," Hunter said. "He was excited. He was happy. He told me he wanted there."
A little later, the three-star running back/athlete gave his verbal commitment to Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt.
"I talked to Houston Nutt and he said he was very proud I committed," Hunter said. "He said they could use me in a lot of ways. He said they were going to sign me as an athlete. I'm very excited. I like Ole Miss a lot. I'm going to try to go back when I get back from camp and visit. Coach Nutt said that by me committing, others will hop on the train and want to be a part of the Ole Miss family."
Hunter said the relationship he built over the last few months with the Ole Miss staff sealed the deal.
"I picked Ole Miss because they were recruiting me the hardest," Hunter said. "I think I'll be a big help. I look at the way Houston Nutt used the two backs at Arkansas and I think I can fit with that at Ole Miss."
Hunter, who rushed 176 times for 2,169 yards and 24 touchdowns last season for Kingsbury, is Ole Miss' sixth verbal commitment. He joins Morristown, Tenn., linebacker Demarcus Knight; West Point, Miss., defensive lineman Markell Lee; Jackson, Miss., offensive tackle Emmanuel McCray; Louisville, Miss., quarterback Clayton Moore and Mobile, Ala., defensive end Mike Thomas on the list of players committed to sign with Ole Miss in February 2009. Verbal commitments are non-binding. Ole Miss is expected to sign its full allotment of 25 prospects in February.
Hunter chose Ole Miss over Auburn, Kentucky, Memphis, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt. Alabama had also shown considerable interest, though the Crimson Tide had not offered Hunter a scholarship. Hunter, ranked No. 5 by Rivals.com among all Tennessee prospects and No. 35 by Rivals.com among running back prospects, runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and is excellent catching the football out of the backfield.
"I have great vision and good cuts," Hunter said. "I can pull away from people and I can show power when I need to. I can catch the ball. My coaches (at Kingsbury) are working on some plays to get me the ball in the passing game, so we'll see how that turns out. On kickoff returns, they never kick me the ball. They always kick the other way. I just have to work on my speed and I'll be an excellent return man."
Hunter said Ole Miss "is the school I really want to go to, but I still want to take some visits for the fun."
Hunter is on pace to have his core curriculum requirements and he's planning to take the ACT for the first time in August.