The Ole Miss Rebels have received a letter-of-intent from 5-star junior college defensive tackle Lavon Hooks.
Hooks will be joining Ole Miss after playing for Northeast Mississippi Community College and he'll represent commitment No. 21 for head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff.
Hooks is 6'4'', 295 pounds and he's considered to be the No. 1 JUCO recruit according to 247Sports (No. 4 overall in their Composite Rankings), so commitment No. 21 is going to be a very important one for the Rebels.
247Sports reports on the signing:
Hooks was set to announce earlier this week, but delayed his decision multiple times. Washington, Auburn, Mississippi State and Nebraska all were in the mix for his services.
Landing Hooks is a big win for Ole Miss recruiting, but there are still bigger fish left in the sea.
No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche has to be considered the Rebels' main target, and considering that his brother, Denzel, plays for Ole Miss and his mother has been open about wanting the two to play together, the Rebels have to be feeling good about their chances.
It's worth noting that Alabama, LSU and Clemson are also in the running for Nkemdiche's commitment though, and he does want to take an official visit to Oregon (per Kipp Adams/ESPN.com). There are no guarantees in college football recruiting, so even though Ole Miss is set up nicely to land Nkemdiche's commitment, it's in no way a foregone conclusion.
That's what makes receiving Hooks' signature so important for Ole Miss.
Every good defensive end knows that his success is largely predicated on the defensive tackle(s) playing next to him. If the middle of the line can get a good push, that naturally will force the ball carrier (and in many cases the quarterback) outside to the edges. That pressure in the pocket makes it easier for great defensive ends to track down the football and make plays on the edges.
By landing Hooks, the Rebels are bringing in a player that can help make life easier for Nkemdiche. The prospect of playing next to a player of Hook's caliber could very well be a selling point for Nkemdiche.
Landing a 5-star recruit doesn't make a defense great on it's own, but if you put two right next to each other and then compliment them with other good players—now you can start talking. Ole Miss already had a good defensive core, and now they can add a 5-star defensive tackle like Hooks to that mix.
Nkemdiche still has to be the main focus though, and landing him is no guarantee just yet.
The addition of Hooks to the program could end up playing huge dividends in the chase for Nkemdiche though, and in this case, I do think it will help.
He's a talented defensive tackle and a highly ranked JUCO recruit.
Nkemdiche would benefit from playing next to him, and that's just one more thing Ole Miss brings to the table for the No. 1 overall recruit.