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February 5, 2010

Post-signing day analysis: Tight ends

(Editor's note: For six years, Dave Childers has provided a position by position analysis beginning the day after National Signing Day. In a multipart series, he breaks the class down for RebelSports.net. On Thursday, a look was provided at quarterbacks and today the tight end position is reviewed.  In the coming days, the series will look at wide receivers, offensive line, running backs, defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backs.)

The skinny …  Ole Miss lost senior tight end Gerald Harris after last season and while signing a tight end wasn't necessarily a major priority with several players returning, the Rebels were in a position to take one if the right one came available.

The "right one" turned out to be Benoit (Ray Brooks), MS prospect Cordell Giles, a longtime Mississippi State commitment, who the Rebels quietly recruited up until signing day and were rewarded with his signature. Giles is a physical specimen at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, and rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com.

Ole Miss returns depth at the tight end position, thanks to redshirt freshman Ferbia Allen being thrown in the mix early in the season when Harris went down with an injury.  In addition to Allen, the Rebels return E.J. Epperson, Reggie Hicks, and walk-on Layton Jones, who played quarterback in high school.  Z. Mason, while officially listed as a wide receiver, could get a look at the position and seems equipped to handle it at 6-foot-5, 267 pounds.

The addition of Giles leaves Ole Miss with a lot of options at the position, but the bigger question may be how new co-offensive coordinator Dave Rader, fellow coordinator Mike Markuson and Houston Nutt will elect to use that talent next year.  Unofficially, Ole Miss had but about eight receptions at the tight end position last year - Allen with six, Harris with one, and Hicks with one for less than 70 yards total.  Contrast that to national champion Alabama getting 26 catches from Colin Peek at the position for over 300 yards and it becomes evident that tight end is a position that the Rebels may want to look at exploiting if any player emerges as capable of providing that production.  The best candidate for that type production seems to be Allen, who with the benefit of a year of experience and another year in the weight room, could be poised for a breakout season this fall.

The ones that got away ...  The Rebels courted two highly ranked tight ends who opted for other destinations.  Brandon Mosley, a four star junior college player took an official visit and ultimately came down to Ole Miss and Auburn, but opted to stay closer to his home in Georgia.  Travis Dickson, a four star prospect from Ocean Springs, MS showed the Rebels some attention early in the recruiting process, but had decided by mid-August to follow his older brother, Richard Dickson, to LSU.

Overall assessment ...   Tight end wasn't a pressing need for Ole Miss, but the Rebels came away with a quality replacement for Harris, a junior college transfer, who exhausted his eligibility after two seasons in Oxford. Giles adds the potential for depth at the position if that is where he's needed.  However, while he was announced as a tight end signing and rated at that position by Rivals.com, it is not out of the question that he could be shifted to the defensive line if the need arises.

Grade: B+

The signees…

Cordell Giles, TE, 6-3, 235, Benoit (Ray Brooks HS), MS. Ranked the No. 17 player in the state and No. 20 TE in the nation by Rivals.com ... Earned first team 1A All-State honors from the Mississippi Association of Coaches as a junior ... Named to The Clarion-Ledger's Top 40 Recruits list ... Ranked the No. 14 player in Mississippi by The Sun Herald ... Posted 74 tackles and 14 QB sacks as a senior ... Coached in high school by Jerry Walker.

Post-signing day analysis: Quarterbacks

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