Ole Miss receives commitment from 4-star LB Josh Clarke
Josh Clarke, an outside linebacker from New Orleans, Louisiana, announced early last week that he would make his commitment on Monday, June 13, at 6 pm. Then last Thursday he was on the Ole Miss campus. Now, he is a Rebel commitment. The 6’3 225-pound, four-star linebacker is one of the most highly coveted prospects at the position to land in Oxford since Hugh Freeze’s arrival.
Clarke, who stars for Riverdale High School, also held offers from 26 other programs including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M and many more. However, similar to fellow 4-star Ole Miss commit and Louisiana native, Bryan Jones, the home-state LSU Tigers have yet to offer, but more than likely will do so.
The effect an LSU offer might have on both players’ commitment status is something Ole Miss must weather, but having them in the fold is a position they wouldn’t trade with anyone.
Even better news for Rebel nation is that Clarke is likely just the first of two or even potentially three four-star commitments at the position. Not only has linebacker been one of the few spots that Freeze has been unable to land a top-ranked recruit, but the position is in need of a talent infusion in 2017.
Beyond Clarke, other top targets at the position include (ranked four stars or better): Willie Gay, Santino Marchiol and Jacob Phillips, Ole Miss is in the game for all three of those guys.
Gay could be a tough pull from Starkville, Mississippi, but the Rebels did sneak A.J. Brown out of town this past February. Gay could follow his former teammates to Oxford or follow another former teammate, Kobe Jones, to MSU. Gay is set to decide in late July.
Marchiol is likely to commit to Ole Miss soon. He visited a few weeks back and he is very close to former IMG teammate, Shea Patterson. Additionally the two players’ families are close. Phillips isn’t as close to a a decision as the other two, but the Nashville product appears to be favoring Oklahoma, Tennessee and Ole Miss, among others at this point.
There has also been buzz lately that Gay and Clarke want to play together at the next level. That can only add a feather in the Rebels’ cap when it comes time for Gay to make his commitment later this summer, or whenever that winds up being. Each prospect is elite, but together they could form a wall in the second level of the Landshark defense. Then if you were to pair them alongside Marchiol, you could be discussing the best linebacker signing class in the land.
In Clarke, though, the Rebels will get an instinctive, fast and power linebacker that could stand tall against the intimating running backs in the SEC. As well, you would have a linebacker athletic enough to cover some of the best inside targets in the passing game. You can get a better look at Clark here in his Hudl highlights. This could turn out to be the most pivotal pickup of the summer for Freeze and staff.
(Feature image credit: Amos Morale III, Nola.com)
John Luke covers all sports for The Rebel Walk and also writes about high school football for the Southern Elite Sports network, most frequently for SES Mississippi. John Luke is from Tupelo and is the Host of The Buzz on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. on 95.1 FM in Tupelo. He is also a frequent co-host of Mississippi Sports Today with Craig Horton on ESPN 96.3 FM, The Ticket, from 7-9 a.m. in Tupelo.