Wednesday December 16th, 2015

Greg Little, the nation’s top offensive tackle, revealed his college decision Wednesday, announcing his commitment to Ole Miss. The Allen (Texas) High standout chose the Rebels after taking official visits to Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Auburn.

This is the second school to which Little has pledged. The 6’5”, 318-pound senior committed to Texas A&M in June 2014, after excelling on an offensive line that protected then-Allen and current Aggies quarterback Kyler Murray. Little actually played tight end earlier in his high school career but became one of the nation’s most coveted prospects after switching positions.

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At The Opening this summer, after taking visits to other schools, Little described his commitment to Texas A&M as “soft”. He reopened his recruitment in July and released a top five about two months later of Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss. Little had been expected to announce his second commitment on Nov. 4, his birthday, but decided to wait until after his trip to Tuscaloosa.

Alabama and Ole Miss had been viewed as the favorites to land Little, whom Scout.com ranks the No. 3 player in the class of 2016. In its scouting report of Little, Scout.com noted that he “shows that he has the athleticism, the frame, and the footwork to become a true college tackle prospect” and that he “has that long arm looking frame that could handle additional strength easily as he matures.”

Little is a tremendous prospect, but his addition is even more significant given the composition of Ole Miss’s offensive line. Junior Laremy Tunsil, a former five-star recruit himself, can leave for the NFL after this season, potentially creating an immediate starting spot for Little.

There’s no denying the departure of a projected top-10 draft pick would be a significant loss, but Ole Miss could not have come up with a better replacement plan from the high school ranks. Little is the highest-ranked prospect the Rebels have landed since defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche in 2013. Tunsil, another member of that banner ’13 recruiting class, ranked No. 7 nationally. As a whole, the class ranked No. 10 in the country, whereas Ole Miss’s 2016 haul now checks in at No. 6, according to Scout.com.

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Little has plenty to do with that, but the Rebels also are bringing in the nation’s top quarterback recruit, IMG Academy’s Shea Patterson. Patterson’s commitment was a huge win on its own; now Ole Miss will have a blue chipper protecting him in the pocket. Together, the five-stars give the Rebels the two best players at two of the most important positions on the field. That’s a pretty strong foundation for a recruiting class.

The question—as it was case when Ole Miss brought in Nkemdiche, Tunsil, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and defensive back Tony Conner three years ago—is whether Ole Miss can use this top-notch talent to beat the best team in their division, Alabama, on the field in addition to the recruiting trail and compete for more than consolatory big-time bowl games.

That 2013 group helped the Rebels post back-to-back seasons with at least nine wins. The 2016 group, highlighted by Little and Patterson, could give Ole Miss a similar boost. Whether the Rebels can reach even higher remains to be seen.

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