Big names continue to roll in for Ole Miss. None, however, could have a bigger impact than Lavon Hooks in 2013.
Hooks' decision to sign with the Rebels this week will provide Ole Miss with an immediate fortifying force on its defensive line. The Rebels ranked 29th in the country in run defense in 2012. Hooks should only help that, as the 6-foot-4, 295-pound prospect is rated the No. 15 prospect in the ESPN Junior College 100.
Hooks' signing will also provide momentum to a class that already had plenty. The Rebels have 21 commitments, including 10 four-star commitments. Still, the class figures to get much, much better -- as it already has with Hooks.
The No. 1 prospect in the country, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche from Loganville (Ga.) Grayson, has Ole Miss as his favorite right now. The nation's top receiver prospect, Laquon Treadwell from Crete (Ill.) Monee, has publicly said that Ole Miss is his leader. Landing Hooks provides immediate proof that first-year Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze will be a force to be reckoned with in recruiting before national signing day and for the foreseeable future.
That impact will be felt in Mississippi where Freeze landed Hooks. Freeze bested Auburn, Nebraska, Washington and rival Mississippi State, among others, for Hooks. That's something to brag about.
Freeze won't want to rely on junior college prospects for Ole Miss' long-term success, but with such talent nearby, he'll be able to bolster his roster when necessary. Hooks -- and any success he has at Ole Miss -- will only further that cause.
Hooks is also a tie into Atlanta, his hometown. Surely, he knows other prospects and can help the Rebels have more success in that talent-rich area.
Perhaps more than his actual impact on the field, Hooks' signing should have a huge impact on Ole Miss' recruiting. The Rebels have kept a top junior college prospect in state, landed immediate help for their defense and provided momentum for a class bursting with talent.
Not bad for a coach just finishing his first year in the SEC.