December 7, 2011

Notes: Ward planning to take official visit to Ole Miss

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Channing Ward hasn't set up an official visit to Ole Miss yet, but he's kept a spot open on his proverbial dance card for the Rebels.

After Hugh Freeze's call to him Monday, just hours after the former Arkansas State coach was hired to rebuild the Ole Miss program, Ward said he plans to take his fifth official visit to Oxford to get to know the Rebels' new boss.

"Coach Freeze called just (Monday)," Ward said Tuesday afternoon following Team Mississippi's practice at Huntington College in preparation for Saturday's Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. "He said hey, hello, all that stuff. He asked how my family was doing and he wanted to get me up for a visit.

"Once we get a chance to visit, we'll get to know each other better."

Ward, a four-star defensive end from Aberdeen, Miss., who is ranked as the No. 88 prospect in the country by Rivals.com/Yahoo, recorded 20 quarterback sacks this season. Ward has already taken official visits to Auburn and LSU. He will visit Alabama later this month before taking trips to Mississippi State and _ likely _ Ole Miss in January.

"They just haven't really come to me yet and asked me for a visit," Ward said, referring to the Rebels. "Once they come to me and ask me to visit, I'm going to come.

"They hadn't fallen far. It's all about will and want. Some players didn't want it as much as the coaches and the other players did."

SOUTH PANOLA DUO STILL COMMITTED: Batesville (South Panola), Miss., defensive lineman Issac Gross talked to Freeze on Monday and said he plans to get to know the Rebels' new coach as soon as possible.

"I'm still committed," said Gross, who committed to Ole Miss in the spring. "Whenever I get back, I'll get a chance to meet and see where it goes from there. I like the package they have planned for me. I'm still stuck with them.

"He's a good coach. They run sort of like Alabama's defense with a defensive end and a linebacker. I hear he's a great guy. I talked to him. He sounded real nice. He sounds like a guy I can relate to and listen to and follow. If I talk to him and he tells me how he's going to use me and I feel him, I'm there."

Gross' teammate and fellow Ole Miss commitment, linebacker Temario Strong, expressed a similar sentiment.

"He's a good coach," Strong said. "When I found about it, when Gross told me about it, we were happy. Coach (Houston) Nutt had it going, but they're both good coaches. I'm still committed."

JEFFERSON HAS REBELS IN TOP THREE: Summit (North Pike), Miss., defensive end A.J. Jefferson was taking a look at Arkansas State when Freeze was leading the Red Wolves' program. With Freeze now in Oxford, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound three-star prospect is even more interested in Ole Miss.

"They were recruiting me from Arkansas State," Jefferson said. "I pretty much knew who (Freeze) was. I never got a chance to meet him, but I met Grant Heard, his wide receivers coach. He came down to the house and went to visit my mom and everything. I pretty much know him. I'm still waiting to meet Coach Freeze.

"I've always liked Ole Miss, so nothing's really changed for me."

Jefferson said Ole Miss, Southern Mississippi and Louisiana Tech are on top for his services right now. Jefferson also holds offers from Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis and Mississippi State.

"I want to have a chance to come in and compete and play early," Jefferson said.

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