Georgia running back Peyton Barber’s flip to Auburn was part of the weekend’s recruiting story lines for Ole Miss.
Barber was quickly replaced with Jordan Wilkins – a player from closer to home in Cordova, Tenn. – who is rated higher than Barber.
Wilkins gave a verbal commitment to Ole Miss Saturday afternoon.
Wilkins, according to Rivals, is the No. 20 running back in the nation, the No. 9 player in Tennessee. Rivals gives him four stars.
Barber is the No. 33 running back, the No. 42 player in Georgia, a three-star recruit.
If heights and weights can be believed in recruiting they are of very similar build, Barber at 5-10, 211, and Wilkins at 6-1, 210.
This is significant. Ole Miss didn’t have a power back it could rely on this year. Coaches weren’t comfortable calling Nick Parker’s number in key situations.
There are four running backs committed in the class, although the names are different now with Barber out and Wilkins in.
It’s important that Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze find someone who can bang it up in the middle. That absence of that player showed up in some short-yardage situations in 2012, most notably the fourth-and-1 that would have sealed the game against Texas A&M.
There were no other public commitments over the weekend and are likely to be none before National Signing Day on Wednesday.
The general mood of the recruiting coverage is that Ole Miss remains in very good position with a number of highly ranked prospects including defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and offensive linemen Austin Golson and Laremy Tunsil.
However, Rivals’ Neal McReady reported that Alabama has made up ground with South Panola safety Tony Connor and that Connor could be very much in play.
The movements of Houston defensive end Chris Jones remained the biggest news over the weekend, filled with sightings of Freeze and Jones’ mother and conflicting information of Jones’ whereabouts, whether Oxford or Starkville, during the day on Saturday.
Jones has said he will announce a decision on Signing Day.