I’m sure you remember the 2011 “flipmas”, when Ole Miss stole a handful of highly-rated recruits right out from under Mississippi State. Despite the Bulldogs winning two straight Egg Bowls and OM having a losing season the previous fall, the Rebs hauled in 4-star C.J. Johnson, 4-star Nick Brassell and a few others Dan Mullen had his eye on, vaulting them into the top 20 of recruiting rankings.
Meanwhile, MSU’s 9-4 season didn’t seem to help on the recruiting trails for 2011 as they sank to 34th in the rankings. There were twice as many 2-stars as there where 4-stars in Mullen’s third class.
Most of these players’ college careers are now over, and many entered their name into the NFL Draft this past weekend. How did they fare? Which school adequately prepared them for the next level while winning on the field in college? Let’s take a look….
C.J. Johnson (6′-3″ 225) vs. Benardrick McKinney (6′-5″, 230)
4-star C.J. Johnson out of Philadelphia, MS was a life-long Mississippi State fan, and one of the lead recruiters in the 2011 class. Then all of the sudden he changed his mind on a dime and flipped to Ole Miss. He claimed something about how some interactions on Facebook led him to that decision. It was high drama at the time.
Benardrick McKinney came to State because it was his only SEC offer, despite being from Tunica, MS – generally a place Ole Miss has covered up. His recruitment had very little fan fare.
During his career at OM, Johnson switched back and forth from DE to LB. He’s had a mediocre career as an inconsistent starter.
McKinney left MSU early (redshirted 2011 season) after leading the Bulldogs in tackles in 2013 and 2014 (2nd in 2012). He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Houston Texans.
Nick Brassell (6′-0″ 170) vs. Kendrick Market (5′-10″, 185)
4-star Nick Brassell was considered to be a top prospect in Mississippi – most had him ranked second just behind C.J. Johnson. He was expected to play wide receiver, which he did a little bit of at Ole Miss, and was also a cornerback.
3-star Kendrick Market was assumed to be offered by MSU only to get in the door with Brassell at South Panola. That worked for a while as Brassell was committed to State, but when he flipped to OM the Bulldogs were left with only Market.
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Nick “Snoop” Brassell played well during his freshman season, but he couldn’t say the same for his grades. He tried to stay on the team but never could. He was last heard from at Ole Miss’ 2015 pro day, but nothing materialized for a professional football career.
Market is currently recovering from a torn Achillies tendon suffered in the Egg Bowl, but he’s been a major contributor for the Bulldogs with 16 career starts as a safety and playing in 37 of 39 career games. Plus, he saved MSU’s 2013 bowl chances with a game-saving tackle vs. Kentucky. He still has another year of eligibility at State.
Tobias Singleton – Dan Mullen wanted this 4-star, 6′-2″ wide receiver from Madison, MS but Ole Miss snagged him. State fans say Mullen backed off, Ole Miss fans say Nutt beat him out. Either way, Singleton’s career was a massive bust in Oxford as he was let go from the team after just one year. He went on to have a half way decent career at Jackson State, but no NFL is in his future it doesn’t appear.
The above three players were apart of a huge recruiting coup for Ole Miss. They were three of the top five players in the state (all of which went to OM), along with Donte Moncreif and Aaron Morris. Moncreif did have an excellent college career and is now in the NFL. Morris is hoping to have a solid senior season on the Rebels’ O-line this fall.
That 2011 class was the class for Ole Miss before the class of 2013. It also included Cody Pruitt, Sedarious Bryant, Denzel Nkemdiche and Senquez Golson. There’s no doubt this group were major contributors to the vaunted 2014 “Landsharks”. But only Senquez Golson was drafted into the NFL (2nd round, Steelers).
Meanwhile, the Mississippi State 2011 class that was laughed at by recruiting pundits, has already produced four NFL Draft picks (Benardrick McKinney, Preston Smith, Josh Robinson and Darius Slay). That number will continue to grow as Dak Prescott and potentially Taveze Calhoun will be drafted in 2016.
Getting drafted into the NFL isn’t everything, but it can be an indicator of which program can take talent and prepare them for the next level. In Mississippi State’s case, it’s been going a step further and developing unheralded talent into NFL players. And as for how the 2011 class has gone, Ole Miss has done the opposite by taking highly rated talent and producing slim-pickings for the NFL.
On the field results
You may not care about all this NFL Draft stuff. You may be saying to yourself, who did better on the field between these two classes?
Well, the final results aren’t in yet because there’s still a handful of 5th year seniors who will have something to say this fall, but most of these guys have either graduated or are no longer with the program. So let’s take a look at where we stand through the 2014 football season…
|Weeks Ranked in Top 25
From those stats you can clearly see Mississippi State’s 2011 class accomplished more on the field as well as the NFL Draft. And I realize the only difference between the two is that Houston Nutt’s final season was a disaster, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that in Hugh Freeze’s tenure these players weren’t able to accomplish more than the two and three stars that went to Starkville.
Ole Miss got each of the top five players in Mississippi and eight of the top 13. Mississippi State only got two players in that top 13. Four years ago they were partying in Oxford over this class while MSU fans hung their heads. The results have been more wins on the field for State and a handful of NFL draft picks compared to just a pair from OM (Moncreif and Golson).
Keep on flippin’.