November 12, 2008

Four-star WR comes close to naming leader

Ole Miss will soon be searching for a big-play threat to replace senior Mike Wallace.

One player the Rebels have had targeted for several months as a guy who could immediately fill Wallace's considerable shoes is Butler County (Kan.) Community College wide receiver Tyrece Gaines.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder from Norcross, Ga., will visit Ole Miss on Dec. 12. It will be the third and final official visit he will take before making a college decision. Gaines, a December graduate, will report to his school of choice in January and be eligible to go through spring practice.

Gaines, a four-star prospect ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 8 junior college prospect, will take an official visit to Oklahoma on Nov. 22 and another to Texas Tech later in the month before traveling to Oxford. The Rebels, Sooners and Red Raiders are his final choices.

It's a slight lead, but one school seems to stick out over the others.

"Honestly, I'm looking for a place where I can go to and be the guy and I think Ole Miss offers that more than the others," Gaines said. "I know that they take pride in really getting to know everybody on the team as a person outside of football. They take a lot of pride in family and that means a lot to me."

Gaines, who wants to pursue a career in sports medicine, said geography is on the Rebels' side as well. His mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and anemia, he said, so being close to her would be a major plus. Playing in the league he grew up watching would be quite a bonus as well.

"That's definitely really important," Gaines said. "That's where the best competition. I know my mom could be at the majority of my games. Being in the SEC is everything."

Ole Miss tight ends/special teams coach James Shibest is spearheading the Rebels' recruitment of Gaines. The former Butler County head coach has told Gaines he "could fit in real well and that it's a great program," Gaines said. "They're looking for a big-play guy who has size and speed at the position. That brought them my way. Ole Miss has been involved ever since the recruiting process got started and since then, they've been calling since they could."

Shibest traveled to Kansas to see Gaines during the Rebels' recent open date and was on the phone with the speedster Thursday night.

Gaines has 24 catches for 408 yards and nine touchdowns so far for Butler County, which will oppose Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College Sunday at 5 p.m. for the region championship game. As a freshman, Gaines caught 23 passes for 425 yards and five touchdowns.

"I'm an all-around guy," Gaines said. "I'm an all-purpose guy. I can run past you. I can get off the jam. I'm a strong guy. I demolish defensive backs, man. I just hate DBs. That's the bottom line."

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