Peruse message boards dedicated to college football recruiting, and very few fans or analysts give Ole Miss much of a chance in its pursuit of Memphis (Harding Academy), Tenn., wide receiver Marlon Brown.
Luckily for the Rebels, the only opinion that really matters is Brown's, and on Monday afternoon, as Brown left Oxford, Miss., it was clear the Rebels had put themselves very much in the mix for Brown's coveted signature.
"It was good," Brown said of his official visit to Ole Miss, one that began Saturday morning and wrapped up today. "I enjoyed myself. On Saturday, we went to the basketball game and watched the basketball team. On Saturday night, we all went to dinner. On Sunday, we had a meeting with Coach (Houston) Nutt and the receivers coach (Ron Dickerson Jr.) and the offensive coordinator (Kent Austin) and watched a little film.
"They told me I'd be an outside receiver some and an inside receiver some, too."
The visit, Brown said, surpassed his expectations.
"(The trip) was amazing, really," said Brown, who was accompanied by his coach, Clay Presley. "
I thought it was going to be a small little town with weird people, but no, it's real nice."
Brown, who was hosted by senior fullback Jason Cook and junior cornerback Marshay Green on his official visit, said Ole Miss is even with his other four finalists, a group that includes Ohio State, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Brown will visit Florida this weekend and go to Tennessee on Jan. 30 before announcing a decision just before or on National Signing Day Feb. 4.
The Rebels addressed several key issues with Brown, who is ranked as the No. 5 wide receiver in the country by Rivals.com, during the weekend. First, Ole Miss' basketball coaches told Brown, who is a standout on the hardwood as well, that he'd be welcome at Tad Smith Coliseum.
"They said if I come here and I try to play both, I can," Brown said.
Ole Miss also addressed Brown's role in the Rebels' offense, telling him he would have a shot at very early playing time on a team that will likely open the season ranked somewhere between No. 5 and No. 15 in the national polls.
"The future of (the Ole Miss program) is real good, to be honest," Brown said. "They have Shay (Hodge) coming back, Dex (McCluster) coming back and Jevan (Snead)."
Snead, a sophomore Texas transfer who led Ole Miss to a 9-4 record, a No. 14 national ranking and a 47-34 win over Texas Tech in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas on Jan. 2, has two years of eligibility remaining. His strong arm is one of the things that is most appealing to Brown, who admitted that he's taking a close look at the quarterback situations of all of his finalists.
"It's a huge deal to me right now," Brown said, before adding that Ole Miss and Ohio State (Terrelle Pryor) are probably in the best shape at quarterback among his top five schools.
However, the strongest aspect of Ole Miss' recruitment of Brown appears to be Brown's relationship with Nutt.
"It's pretty cool, to be honest," Brown said. "I definitely have a close relationship with him. It's flattering, a little bit. He told me he's coming back to my house next week for an in-home visit."
Nutt has also fostered a very good relationship with Brown's grandmother, Calvary Malone, and she's taken a liking to the personable Ole Miss coach as well.
"He called her on the phone plenty of times," said Brown, who acknowledged that Malone's opinion will have an input in his final decision. "They all each other a lot. Grandma, I don't really know, she hasn't really told me, but she likes him some because when she calls and he doesn't answer, she gets mad. She calls him probably once a week I guess since last week. I don't really know (what they talk about)."
Brown is the No. 1-ranked player in the state of Tennessee and the No. 53 prospect nationally, as rated by Rivals.com.
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