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June 19, 2005What is intriguing national prospects from California to make the journey to Oxford?
It seems that immediate playing time, the scenario of being the big fish in a smaller pond is working in favor of the Rebels. Add the mystique of playing in the SEC and the south in packed stadiums, and the magical charisma of Coach Ed Orgeron and you have your answer.
Orgeron, who was the assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator at Southern Cal over the past few years, is using all his connections, friendships and admirers to help him build his new Ole Miss team into champions.
Several California prospects are listing Ole Miss among their favorites, including two of the states best linebackers, quarterbacks, and running backs.
"I have never seen nothing like it before while in California, some of the top talent in the state mentioning Ole Miss in their top five with the likes of USC, Florida State, UCLA, and Notre Dame," said Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Expert Jeremy Patterson.
It is becoming more apparent every day for Rebel fans why Orgeron was named by Rivals.com as the recruiter of the year two years running. We at RebelGrove.com and OMSN.com caught up with a few of the California prospects to see how their recruitment was progressing.
One of the nation's best fullbacks Chane Moline of Mission Viejo is liking the Rebels a lot. Moline lists Ole Miss only behind UCLA and USC, followed by Utah and Arizona. He has received eight offers so far. When asked what intrigued him about Ole Miss, he was quick to respond.
"Being able to play early and the chance to get the ball a lot," said Moline. "I like coach Orgeron a lot, I got to know him while he was at USC, he is a proven winner and will make Ole Miss a big time winner as well."
Moline has already decided to take one of his five official visits to Ole Miss, and can't wait to see first hand what the Rebels have to offer.
"I probably will be going down for the LSU ball game, I understand that will be a great time to see the campus, and what kind of excitement the game produces," said Moline.
Moline, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound fullback with 4.7 speed, rushed for more than 1,900 yards and scored 40 touchdowns while earning CIF offensive player of the year honors in 2004.
Another California running back and dual sport athlete that is considering Ole Miss is Toby Gerhart of Norco High School. Gerhart is a 6-foot-1, 220 pound athlete that runs a 4.4 forty and is the starting tailback and the starting center fielder for the baseball team.
Gerhart has received 21 offers, including every PAC-10 school with the exception of USC and Cal. Other big names includes Ole Miss, Colorado, Colorado State, BYU, Utah, Wyoming, and Kansas.
"Actually what intrigues me about Ole Miss is the pageantry of the game itself in the south," Gerhart said. "I love how they pack the stadiums for every game, and how crazy football gets in the south, their fans live and die football, you don't get that much in the PAC-10."
Gerhart has made it clear to the schools that are recruiting him that he wants the opportunity to play both football and baseball. Gerhart was fully aware of the recent success of the Ole Miss Baseball team.
"Yeah, the baseball team is one of the best in the country, they hosted a super-regional and probably should be in the world series, I watched a couple of their ballgames," Gerhart said. "The football team is headed in the right direction with Coach Orgeron and Ole Miss has a great baseball team, so yeah I'm very interested in Ole Miss, they are one of my top schools."
Gerhart is playing on a national showcase baseball team that is traveling all over the country playing tournaments. He was in Georgia when completing this interview.
"I plan on being in Oxford sometime in August, probably the first week or two to check things out and get to meet the coaching staff," Gerhart aid. "I also plan on taking one of my official visits their as well."
Gerhart rushed for 2,210 yards - a little over eight yards a carry - 27 touchdowns while leading Norco to a 12-2 record last season.
Gerhart is 2,100 yards from the state record for career yardage. On the diamond, he supports a .554 batting average with 25 home runs.
Gerhart was the California sophomore player of year, first-team all-state, all-southern section, league MVP, 'Player of the Year' according to Press Enterprise.
This year, as a junior, he was first-team all-league, all-CIF Division V, first-team all-state, and ranked No. 11 for all juniors in the country according to Sporting News.
Not only is the dual sport athlete a standout, he has excelled in the classroom, as he is ranked as valedictorian of his 2006 class.
The Rebels also are recruiting two of the state's best linebackers in Allen Bradford and Josh Tatum.
Bradford was named MVP of the USC Nike Camp in April. Bradford is currently ranked the No. 7 player over all in the nation by Rivals.com and the No. 1 outsider linebacker in the country and is a five star prospect.
"Ole Miss was my first offer and I haven't forgotten that, Coach O saw something that now everyone else is seeing, but he was the first," Bradford said. "Ole Miss is definitely still one of my top schools, I feel that I could really make a big splash in the SEC and start right away for Coach O, I can see myself doing great things at Ole Miss."
Bradford and teammate Sharief Wright will be making the trip to Oxford sometime this summer to see Oxford and the Ole Miss campus.
"We are going to come down sometime in July, we want to see all the great things we have been hearing about," said Bradford. "I really like Coach O a lot, he is very straight forward and the type of coach I would love playing for."
Tatum, an inside linebacker from McClymonds High School in Oakland. Tatum is ranked the No 27 player overall in the nation by Rivals.com, the third best inside linebacker in the country and is a four star prospect.
Tatum has offers from Ole Miss, Miami, Michigan, USC and Tennessee just to mention a few. "Ole Miss is still in my top eight schools, I do plan on visiting there and get a chance to get to know the coaching staff and the team," said Tatum.
Michael Herrick, the state's leader in yards passing, has already scheduled a trip to Oxford, he and his father Greg will be at Ole Miss June 27 for a couple of days.
"They have showed Michael a lot of attention," Herrick said. "They sent four coaches to California to see him throw during spring practice and that meant a lot to us"
"Michael and I want to see everything about Ole Miss, the campus, the town, and get to know the coaches a little better," Herrick said.