Photo by C. Todd Sherman
I don’t claim to be an expert in the recruiting game. I’m not the best at analyzing talent and determining if a player is Division I material. But I’m not dumb, either.
I would have no reservations asking a college recruiter about Bruce running back Richard Freelon. The question would be: What’s wrong with you?
Freelon, the reigning Daily Journal Offensive Player of the Year, has exactly one scholarship offer on the table, from D-II Alcorn State. It’s a mystery to his coach, James Ray, why the big boys haven’t yet come calling.
“I wish I knew,” he said Tuesday. “He works extremely hard, is qualified, has a 3.6 GPA, his ACT is where it needs to be. I don’t know what the holdup is. I think if he played for South Panola, Tupelo or Oxford, he’d have 10 offers right now.”
Bruce is a Class 2A school, and Ray admitted the small-school stigma might be part of the problem. I understand that the level of competition Freelon faces isn’t what it would be in 4A or 5A, but I also don’t buy the notion that his numbers aren’t legit. He rushed for 2,536 yards and 33 touchdowns last year.
Consider Alex Carpenter and Montario Patterson. Both were recent standouts at Biggersville, a 1A school with a struggling program. Both were great players and signed with Mississippi State, but I’d say Freelon is better than both of those guys. So I wonder what Sylvester Croom is thinking – that he has enough running backs already? Perhaps.
Ole Miss gets a pass for now because of the coaching change. I don’t know how closely Ed Orgeron was looking at Freelon, if at all, but Houston Nutt needs to look soon. As for the rest of the D-I schools around here, it’s a mystery to me as to why they’re not all over Freelon. I don’t think he’s invisible. He’s 6-foot, 210 pounds, strong as an ox, runs consistent 4.5s in the 40 – what’s not to like? He’s added about 25 pounds to his frame since last year.
“To put on that kind of weight and not lose any speed shows you what kind of athlete he is,” Ray said.
I haven’t talked with Freelon yet – I will soon – but Ray said the lack of attention has been disappointing for the senior. It’s only motivated him more to have a great season and carry Bruce to Jackson. Maybe then folks will wise up.