Ole Miss and Tennessee are engaging in a recruiting battle that is sure to heat up in the coming weeks and months between the two SEC programs that have been on a warpath on the recruiting trail. Tackle Chris Williams (Tyrone, Ga. Sandy Creek) and end Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn. Brentwood Academy) are two of the top defensive linemen on each school’s boards, and one school could end up with both if they play their cards right.
Williams currently has the Rebels at the top of his list with Tennessee nipping at their heels for the three-star recruit 247Sports.com ranks as the No. 28 defensive tackle. At 6-1 and 287-pounds, Williams has the build to be a run-stuffer in the middle of the defensive line and holds up well at the point of attack because of his exceptional strength.
Williams spoke glowingly about the Rebels and what is standing out to him at this stage of his recruitment and why they are out in front.
“I love the coaches — I’m real cool with the coaches,” Williams told 247Sports. “I love the defensive scheme. I love the area and the facilities. I love the campus and I love the college.”
The battle with Ole Miss and Tennessee is one that could go back-and-forth all summer and into the fall. Williams has visited Knoxville once thus far, but he has yet to visit Oxford. When he visits Ole Miss that should help him in his decision-making process and a commitment could be coming shortly thereafter.
Ole Miss has their work cut out for them to make up ground on Barnett who is believed to be leaning toward Tennessee or Vanderbilt with the Rebels ready to make their move into his top group.
“There’s still plenty of time and I’d like to visit Ole Miss this summer,” Barnett told Brandon Red of Rebels247. “I’d like to talk to their coaches and see how they would plan to use me. I’d also like to get around the players and ask them how the college life is there. Not just as a football player, but as a student as well.”
At 6’3.5’’ and 265-pounds, Barnett would bring a lot of versatility to whichever school he picks. The four-star defensive lineman is being recruited to play tackle at some schools and end at others, but his preference is to stick on the edge, so the school that promises him that could be in the driver’s seat.
Both Tennessee and Ole Miss have made significant strides in the past year with Butch Jones and Hugh Freeze, respectively taking control of these two programs. The battle for Williams and Barnett is sure to be just the beginning of the battles they will have off and on-the-field.