By NEMS Daily Journal
9:29 a.m. – From Daily Journal’s Brandon Speck in Houston (@brandonspeck) Chris Jones’ mom says: ‘Never really close to going to #OleMiss.’ #DJPreps
9:21 a.m. – More from Brad Locke on Chris Jones …
Chris Jones is sticking with Mississippi State.
The five-star defensive end from Houston, Miss., held a press conference at his school this morning to announce his decision between MSU and Ole Miss. The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder signed with State, to which he committed last June.
Jones had both MSU and Ole Miss caps set in front of him, and said, “It’s been a rough time. People wanting me to go to different places. I came to the decision where I plan to play my career at Mississippi State University.” He then donned the MSU cap.
Jones, who 247Sports.com rates as the No. 2 overall player in the country, saw his recruitment process go from quiet to frantic in the last month or so. He had a nice showing in the Under Armour All-America Game, and then a flood of offers came in. Jones visited Ole Miss two weekends ago then went back again last weekend, while also visiting MSU on Saturday.
Although he never withdrew his MSU commitment, Jones added Ole Miss to the mix. He admitted to using deception in order to try and keep his Oxford visits secret, saying he’d received a lot of negative feedback from fans on both sides, including death threats.
Jones was credited with 160 tackles, 45 tackles-for-loss and 14 sacks last season for Houston High School, which won its first ever playoff game. He was named the Daily Journal defensive player of the year.
9:14 a.m. – Brad Locke (@bradlocke) reports Chris Jones of Houston just picked Mississippi State at a ceremony in Houston. More soon.
9 a.m. – MSU coach Dan Mullen with this Tweet – Welcome to the Bulldog family Ashton Shumpert (IAHS). #HailStateNSD … Shumpert, who played at Tupelo High during his career too, rushed for 1,796 yards and 25 touchdowns in only 10 games as a senior. He was the state Gatorade Player of the Year.
8:40 a.m. – From Melissa Meador of the Monroe Journal (MelissaMeador14 on Twiter) Just left Aberdeen. LB Justin Lucas and OL Brandon Hodges have signed with East Miss CC and WR/DB Aaron McMillian has signed with Northeast.
From @ tbradenbishop – Tupelo High School had three football signees this morning: K Drew White (EMCC), OL Kasey Grice (ICC), and DL Jeremiah Dent (NECC). GO WAVE!
8 a.m. – Follow Daily Journal’s Brandon Speck @brandonspeck on Twitter for Houston’s Chris Jones announcement. Brandon is in Houston now. More as it is available. Announcement set for 9 a.m.
6:55 a.m. – More on Nkemdiche from Daily Journal’s Parrish Alford
Robert Nkemdiche ended the suspense, however mild it may have been, by announcing he would sign with Ole Miss about 45 minutes ago on ESPNU.
Nkemdiche was joined at the podium by his parents and also, his brother, Denzel Nkemdiche, the Rebels’ play-making All-SEC linebacker.
After working his way through thank yous while addressing a gathering at the Grayson High School aduitorium, Nkemdiche said, “The recruiting process has been long, but I’ve enjoyed it. After much discussion and prayer, I’ve decided to attend the University of Ole Miss.”
The video feed quickly cut away to the war room at Ole Miss where Hugh Freeze, his assistants and others in attendance erupted in hugs, hand shakes and high fives.
The Nkemdiche brothers were sporting Grayson gear before the announcement. They quickly shed the gear to reveal matching white shirts and suspenders.
Denzel Nkemdiche has fielded questions about this day throughout the season.
“I wanted him to make the right decision that he wanted to make and be comfortable with the decision he made, because it’s going to be where he will be for the next three years.”
ESPN national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill compared Robert Nkemdiche to South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, giving Clowney an edge on the physical size, but grading Nkemdiche higher on energy – lots of talk about the Nkemdiche motor – and versatility – lots of talk about the possibility of Nkemdiche at tackle or nose.
ESPN’s Rece Davis commented on the momentum of this Ole Miss class and said it’s important for the Rebels to capitalize on this class with big wins quickly because it’s been so long since Ole Miss has won big on the national stage.
Former coaches Derek Dooley of Tennessee and Mike Belotti of Oregon were also guest analysts on ESPNU’s early morning Signing Day coverage.
The former coach lineup included Gene Chizik of Auburn, who appeared in a phone interview and said, “I think it’s an epic day for Hugh Freeze,” Chizik said.
Click here for more from Parrish at Inside Ole Miss Sports Blog.
Follow Parrish Alford on Twitter @parrishalford.
6:47 a.m.- Nkemdiche picks …. Ole Miss
Loganville, Ga., defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (6-foot-4, 280 pounds), the nation’s No. 1 recruit said this morning on ESPNU he is going to Ole Miss.
In other news, Five-star recruit Elijah Daniel, 6-4, 250 defensive end from Avon, Indiana, who was committed to Ole Miss signed with Auburn.
@brandonspeck (Daily Journal’s Brandon Speck) tweeted – Elijah Daniel #flipping from #OleMiss to #Auburn doesn’t help #MissState in getting Chris Jones. #NSD
5:30 a.m. – Some info you will need … Here are some places you will want to go today for info …
Click here for Brad Locke’s Inisde Mississippi State Sports blog.
Click here for Parrish Alford’s Inside Ole Miss Sports blog.
Click here for the High School blog with complete coverage of area signees NeMissPreps.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE — “National Signing Day Watch” shows you the day and the events surrounding it through the eyes of The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal sports department and the Journal, Inc. network of sites. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.