Ole Miss was the talk of the recruiting season earlier this month, when head coach Hugh Freeze and Co. reeled in the nation's sixth-best class in the 247Sports.com composite index.
That class included No. 1 overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche (DE), No. 4 overall prospect Laremy Tunsil (OT) and the nation's top wide receiver in Laquon Treadwell.
Part of the reason for the success that the Rebels enjoyed this season on the recruiting trail was cornerbacks coach Wesley McGriff, who was the lead recruiter for Nkemdiche, and instrumental in securing the signature of Treadwell. But McGriff has moved on to greener pastures, after being named the cornerbacks coach for the New Orleans Saints on Monday evening.
The Saints have hired Wesley McGriff as secondary coach— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) February 26, 2013
McGriff's departure will hurt Ole Miss' recruiting efforts moving forward. He was named one of the top 50 recruiters in the country in 2013 by 247Sports.com and one of the top 25 recruiters in the country by Rivals.com.
Nkemdiche commented on McGriff's departure on Twitter last night after learning of the news.
Heart broken my coach left from olemiss :((— Robert Nkemdiche (@Aceboogie_001) February 26, 2013
You can't fault McGriff's decision to move the NFL, especially if the Saints are going to give him a significant pay raise. But you have to wonder if it would have made a difference with Nkemdiche had McGriff left before national signing day.
John Talty of the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger described McGriff as "the constant in Nkemdiche's recruitment" in his feature from mid-February. McGriff was instrumental in sewing up the signature of the No. 1 overall prospect shortly before signing day.
Ole Miss' staff is designed to be relentless on the recruiting trail. Freeze was a fantastic recruiter when he was a part of former head coach Ed Orgeron's recruiting team, and the presence of Chris Kiffin and Maurice Harris will certainly keep Ole Miss in the mix with several prospects moving forward.
If you're an Ole Miss fan, you have to wonder whether or not the 2013 class was the start of a trend or a case of Nkemdiche's family connection to the program creating a "flavor of the season" effect.
Losing McGriff is big either way. He's known primarily as a recruiter, which makes the jump to the NFL seem a bit odd. If the success in 2013 was the exception rather than a trend, his departure could have a major impact on the future of the Ole Miss program.