Cutcliffe terms 2001 class balanced'

READ-IN: Highly-touted running back Frank Gore changes mind and signs with Miami.

By Gregg Ellis

Daily Journal

OXFORD - After 10 1/2 weeks of intense recruiting, Ole Miss football coach David Cutcliffe says he signed the balance he was looking for and desired.

Wednesday was the first day high school and junior college student-athletes could sign national letters of intent, and the Rebels inked 22 players, plus three junior college transfers who enrolled in January.

"We met all our positional needs," Cutcliffe said of his third recruiting class. "I like their mix of size, strength and speed.

"They are good people and good football players. They are the type of athletes we can bring in August and work them in a lot of different positions."

The class consists of 16 players from Mississippi, four from Alabama, and two from Georgia. Twelve were standouts on the offensive end. In regards to special teams, neither a punter or kicker were signed.

The three already enrolled are safety Clifton Collins (Southwest Mississippi Community College), cornerback Chris Knight (Hinds) and defensive end Germaine Landrum (Butler Community College).

"Academically, they are really strong, too," Cutcliffe said of his signees. "Some still have some work to do, but nothing that isn't normal."

One player the Rebels failed to sign was Frank Gore, one of the nation's top running backs from Coral Gables, Fla. He told The Miami Herald Monday he was going to Ole Miss. However, he signed with the Miami Hurricanes.

Despite losing Gore, Cutcliffe found success in Northeast Mississippi. As expected, Ripley's Vashon Pearson (running back) and Jimmy Brooks (OL/DB) signed, along with Shannon's multi threat at receiver or defensive back, Travis Johnson. From the JUCO ranks, linebackers Matt Grier of Itawamba and Northeast's L.P. Spence chose to be Rebels.

"We signed some outstanding athletes from Northeast Mississippi," Cutcliffe said. "It's an area that is starting to produce a lot of great athletes. It's great for us because of proximity."

Success was also discovered at Madison Central, where Ole Miss signed receiver Mike Espy, running back Sylvester "Bobo" Brown and lineman Chris Spencer.

Spencer was considered one of the top offensive linemen in the nation and was named to the Parade, USA Today and Reebok's ESPN All-America first teams.

2001 Ole Miss Football Signees

Jason Armstead, WR, Gulf Coast C.C.

RaTavious Biddle, WR, Decatur, Ala.

Tony Bonds, DL, Russellville, Ala.

McKinley Boykin, DL, Bessemer, Ala.

Michael Bozeman, OL/DL, Hawkinsville, Ga.

Jimmy Brooks, OL/LB, Ripley

Sylvester Brown, RB, Madison Central

Clifton Collins, S, SW Miss. C.C.

Mike Espy, WR, Madison Central

Matt Grier, LB, Itawamba C.C.

Bobby Harris, OL, Norcross, Ga.

Mario Hill, WR, Meridian

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Long Beach

Travis Johnson, WR/DB, Shannon

Chris Knight, CB, Hinds C.C.

Germaine Landrum, DE, Butler C.C.

Eric Oliver, S, Jasper, Ala.

Vashon Pearson, RB, Ripley

Kelvin Robinson, S, Lanier

Jeremy Ruffin, LB, Meridian

Seth Smith, QB, Hillcrest Christian

L.P. Spence, LB, Northeast C.C.

Chris Spencer, OL, Madison Central

Michael Spurlock, QB, Indianola Gentry

Bryant Thomas, S, Louisville

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