OXFORD • It remains to be seen how the reported departure of Ole Miss defensive line coach Freddie Roach impacts the Rebels’ attempt to lure a coveted in-state defensive tackle.
Ole Miss appears to be in good shape presently in the McKinnley Jackson Sweepstakes.
A possible Roach move to the New York Giants has not been confirmed, but talks are in an advanced stage.
Jackson, a four-star defensive tackle from George County, could be a big pick-up at a position of need as the Rebels lose seniors Benito Jones, Josiah Coatney and Austrian Robinson.
Jackson is currently scheduled to make an official visit to Oxford on Jan. 24, but Ole Miss isn’t the only school in good shape as LSU, Texas A&M and Alabama would also like to sign Jackson.
“I do know that he’s big on relationships and that he and coach Roach had a great relationship,” said Matt Caldwell, Jackson’s coach at George County. “I don’t know how that will factor into his decision.”
The second signing day is Feb. 5.
Caldwell says Jackson keeps his thoughts private and that he has no idea what school Jackson will choose.
In addition to Roach, former Ole Miss assistant Jacob Peeler was involved in Jackson’s recruitment.
Peeler was let go in the early days after Lane Kiffin was introduced as Ole Miss head coach on Dec. 9.
“Coach Roach was always by when he could be, and coach Peeler was involved too. He was always around,” Caldwell said.
Face-to-face contact for NCAA coaches with recruits can resume Friday at the end of the current dead period.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 317 pounds Jackson was a four-year starter at nose tackle at George County. Caldwell said strength at quickness are his greatest assets.
“Even when he was a freshman he knew he was the leader of the defense. His get-off, the use of his hands … in 24 years he’s the best I’ve ever seen at the high school level in doing what he does,” Caldwell said.
Ole Miss signed defensive tackle DeSanto Rollins of Baton Rouge and defensive end Cedric Johnson of Mobile on Dec. 18.
Kiffin, with signing day just 11 days after his hiring, was not able to land four-star Horn Lake tackle Josaih Hayes who signed with Kentucky.
The Rebels appear to be in strong contention for four-star defensive end Demon Clowney of Baltimore.