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December 1, 2006

Free read: Prospects set for official visits

Rebel head coach Ed Orgeron will have one of his biggest weekends of the year to host prospects on official visits when approximately 15 visitors will make the trip to Oxford to visit the Ole Miss campus beginning Friday.

While 15 prospects are scheduled to visit, the actual visit list is a work in progress and subject to change up until late Friday and even early on Saturday morning, especially for prospects who live nearby and can change their mind about visiting at the last minute.

On official visits, Ole Miss makes travel arrangements and that entails airline tickets for prospects who live out of driving distance. In addition, all administrative requirements must be met before a prospect can visit, with one major requirement being that the prospect must provide the school with documentation that he has taken the ACT or SAT - the results are not required, just that he's taken the test.

Schools can host up to 56 prospects and each prospect can take up to five official visits.

Prospects can take any number of unofficial visits to schools as long as they pay their own expenses and numerous prospects have attended Ole Miss on unofficial visits throughout the course of the season.

Official visits are defined by the school being permitted to pay for the visit including travel fare and other nominal expenses. Parents can accompany a prospect, but must fund their own travel expenses.

A typical visits normally starts with the prospect arriving late Friday and being met with an escort that is assigned by the team. With most arrivals being late in the day, little is planned on Friday, but on Saturday, the prospect has a packed schedule that includes meeting with academic counselors, a tour of the campus, a tour of football facilities, and meeting with position coaches. A dinner is held on Saturday evening on campus and then prospects are permitted to go off campus with their escort. On Sunday, prospects meet one-on-one with the head coach. Visits can't exceed 48 hours and prospects are normally off campus by late Sunday morning.

Several prospects who were scheduled this week will look to re-schedule because of various reasons with there being some conflicts caused by high school sports schedule where several prospects compete in basketball. Other prospects are competing in post season football playoff games.

Among the key visitors this weekend, are some current commitments.

Expected to visit is Marreo, La. defensive tackle Drake Nevis, a long time Ole Miss commitment who has been pursued hard by LSU recently and is scheduled to visit the Tigers next weekend. Nevis has been committed to the Rebels since last February and has said from almost day one that he'd visit other schools and he has a long list from which to choose - Auburn, Florida and Miami, among others - in addition to LSU and Ole Miss.

While Nevis is considered for a long time as a "soft commitment" - defined as a prospect who has verbally committed but is still exploring options available and setting visits to other schools - he's held firm with his commitment to Ole Miss.

"I know I am committed to Ole Miss, but I would definitely still say that I am open when it comes to a college I will be attending," Nevis said in an interview in mid-November. "The reason I committed to Ole Miss was that it (the commitment) happened way back in February. I had not visited any other schools before then. I had nothing to compare it (Ole Miss) to."

One of Orgeron's biggest challenges this week will be to convince the four-star prospect that he made the right decision last February.

Joining Nevis will be fellow Louisianan Rishaw Johnson, a three star offensive lineman who is also among a handful of Orgeron's 18 commitments who are less than fully committed to Ole Miss.

Johnson, who was recently selected to play in the All-American Bowl, committed in June and has an official visit set up to Florida State next weekend. Johnson is yet to receive an offer from LSU and the Tigers could move into the picture with an offer.

Johnson was impressed with Ole Miss during camp last summer - but also impressed with Florida State at its Nike Camp - meaning that a favorable impression this weekend will be key to keeping him on the commitment list.

A third commitment who is either still shopping for schools or just enjoying the benefits of being a highly sought after prospect is the State's top running back, Robert Elliott. Elliott has plans to visit Alabama, Florida State, and Mississippi State over the next two months.

While Ole Miss has some committed players who will be tripping to other schools, the Rebels will also be hosting some committed players to other schools.

Included are two current North Carolina commitments - offensive lineman Mike Dykes, a three star guard, and Da-Norris Searcy, a two-star linebacker. Ole Miss will also welcome Arkansas commitment Jerry Franklin, a three-star defensive back from Marion, Ark.

Aside from the committed players, one of the biggest names headlining the visit list is four-star defensive tackle D'Angelo McCray from Tallahassee, Fla.

The 6-foot-4, 289-pounder continues to have a top two of Illinois and Florida. He also is considering Florida State, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Southern California and others.

McCray verbally committed to the Gators early in the process, but backed out of his commitment during the summer to explore other options.

He is set to announce his decision on ESPN on Dec. 14.

Others who appear set to visit include Darnell Williams, Lionel Breaux, Justin Sanders, Mat Williams, Mark Jean-Louis, Alex Washington, and Adrien Robinson.

(Editor's note: The list is subject to change - stay tuned to RebelSports.net for the latest changes through the weekend and for post-visit coverage beginning on Sunday).

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