April 20, 2008

Rebels making noise in Memphis area

MEMPHIS, Tenn. _ Olive Branch, Miss., cornerback Keshun Cowan knows all that's standing between him and an offer from Ole Miss is a strong time in the 40-yard dash.

Cowan, one of more than 60 prospects in attendance at the Rivals.com Five-Star Academy at the University of Memphis Sunday afternoon, is confident he'll be able to run a strong, sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash when he arrives in Oxford this summer.

"They want to see me in action," Cowan said. "They want to see me come to camp so I can show them what I can do."

It's no secret that Houston Nutt and his staff are looking for cover cornerbacks and that they love Cowan's coverage skills and play-making abilities. Ole Miss just wants to make sure Cowan has the speed necessary to cover elite-level Southeastern Conference wide receivers with world-class speed.

And that's fine with Cowan, who lists Ole Miss as his strong leader over Mississippi State and Memphis. The 5-foot-10, 168-pounder (heights and weights were measured and recorded Sunday in Memphis) said he will "probably" commit to Ole Miss when and if the Rebels offer.

"The coaches there are cool," Cowan said. "I think I could get along with them well. They seem like another father figure."

Cowan, who has had a difficult time gaining weight due to the running he does in basketball and track, knows Ole Miss is likely going to be looking for immediate help from its February signees when the 2009 season rolls around.

"I have to get my weight up," Cowan said. "I've got to get in the weight room and work hard. I think I will be ready."

REBELS INTERESTED IN WHITEHAVEN TRIO: Former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron passed out scholarship offers to a trio of players from Memphis' Whitehaven High School last fall, months before he was terminated following the Rebels' 3-9 campaign.

Ole Miss' new staff is still in the process of evaluating the three prospects. Running back/defensive back Cortez Mosby, who rushed for 932 yards on offense while recording 33 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries on defense, said he is hoping to land scholarship offers to Ole Miss or Tennessee, two schools he said are his "dream colleges. I really want to go there the most. Ole Miss is the one I'm most interested in now."

Mosby, who was measured at 5-foot-9 and 209 pounds Sunday, said he's a "downhill runner with great vision."

Mosby transferred to Whitehaven from Ridgeway High School in January.

"He's just been a dream to have," Whitehaven coach Rodney Saulsberry said. "In spring practice, I thought linebacker was where we'd be able to utilize him. But after seeing him carry the ball, it's obvious he can play. His body style fits the position at the college level. I just wish I could have had him the whole team. You can't get any better than that."

Linebacker Derrick Webb, a 5-11, 211-pounder who recorded 115 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries last season while earning all-state honors, said he thinks Ole Miss is close to offering him.

"A lot of people who look at me are undecided," Webb said, "but I think I make up for that with my speed. I have a sense to get to the ball and I make a lot of plays. I'm a play-maker."

"He knows that speed and size are going to take him to the next level," Saulsberry said. "He works to no end to make sure that he's going to be the best player."

Webb said he talked with Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix and liked what he heard.

"I really wish I get an offer but I would be highly considerate of Ole Miss," Webb said. "It's close to him. The Southeastern Conference is always a plus for me and we've had some players from our school go there. That's why I feel good about our school."

Webb has an offer from Middle Tennessee State, though Arkansas and Memphis are showing strong interest and appear close to making offers as well.

Defensive back Gene Robinson said he got an offer from Orgeron last year. Ole Miss running backs coach Derrick Nix has been in contact with Robinson throughout the spring, telling the 5-10, 165-pounder that he's going to make the trip to the Bluff City to see Robinson perform before putting the offer back on the table.

"I'm real cool with that," Robinson said. "I know they have to see me."

Robinson has an offer from Middle Tennessee State as well, and Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Colorado appear on the verge of making offers. Robinson recorded 70 tackles, five interceptions, two blocked punts and one forced fumble last season.

"The biggest thing about Gene is his football IQ is out of the ceiling," Saulsberry said. "He knows the game of football and studies the game of football. It's a coach's dream to have a player with that kind of football IQ. He's a dream to coach and a dream to have as a member of the team."

Robinson's Whitehaven teammates will be participating in a seven-on-seven camp at Vanderbilt this summer. Robinson will be more than a little interested, as he listed the Commodores and Buffaloes as early co-favorites.

"I was born in Nashville," said Robinson, who has a 3.96 core GPA and a 23 on the ACT. "And Colorado? That's Big 12. I grew up liking Texas, and I figure if I'm not going to get recruited by Texas, I can beat them."

Ole Miss has plenty of time to make up ground, and according to Robinson, there's not much of a gap to cross.

Nutt got a commitment from Whitehaven linebacker Tenarius Wright last fall, and Wright stuck with the Hogs after Nutt left for Ole Miss and Bobby Petrino took over in Fayetteville.

"He loved Coach Nutt, and I know I will, too," Robinson said.

HUNTER HAS REBELS AMONG TOP THREE: Memphis (Kingsbury) running back Gabriel Hunter has offers from Ole Miss, Tennessee, Memphis, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Alabama and Vanderbilt, but the 5-11, 180-pound speedster has a clear top two.

"I like Ole Miss and Alabama right now," Hunter said, adding that the Rebels likely have an edge. "I see that they like to run the ball a lot. I like their coaches a lot and I know some of their players. They said they want to build their program around me."

Hunter will check out both of his favorites in the coming months. He'll head to Tuscaloosa for a camp on May 3 before going to camp this summer in Oxford.

"I might make up mind up and commit this summer," Hunter said.

Hunter had 2,679 yards and 30 touchdowns last season, adding two touchdowns receiving.

"I have good vision and I can be powerful sometimes," Hunter said.

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