Alabama's victory over Ole Miss Saturday was a pretty simple situation to comprehend from a Rebel perspective: Ole Miss' defense was excellent, and the offense struggled all afternoon.
That has been the assessment from fans, media members and coaches. And, well, recruits are no different. Madison Central (Madison, Miss.) teammates Carlton Martin and Bryon Bennett have been to Oxford multiple times and are familiar with the UM program. After Saturday, their thoughts were similar to everyone else regarding what they'd just seen.
"I expected the game to be closer than that," said Martin, who traveled to Oxford with Bennett and teammate Tobias Singleton, who is one of the nation's best wideouts for the 2011 class. "It was a big game and a big atmosphere, but Ole Miss just never got any momentum going."
Martin (6-foot-2, 268), a four star prospect, who Rivals.com rates as the No. 23 defensive tackle nationally, and Bennett (6-foot-2, 250), a three star and the nation's 28th-best defensive tackle by Rivals, both slot the Rebels near the top of their lists when preparing to pick a college come February.
The 22-3 loss and lack of offensive production were negatives, of course, but the pair was impressed with the continued progression of the Ole Miss defense.
"It seemed like Alabama had so many chances to really blow it out, and the defense held tight and kept it to field goals," Martin said. They are all over the place and swarm teams. That's exciting to see."
"The defensive system is something I relate well with," Bennett said. "You get to do a lot of things at the defensive line. They're going to have a good defense, and if you're good enough, you can play early."
Bennett and Martin both have offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Arkansas, Alabama, Texas Tech, Michigan State, Syracuse and Baylor. Bennett also has an offer from Kentucky.
Both players are planning to take some official visits before making selections. The Rebels' two losses seem to have a mixed effect on the Jaguar teammates.
"It's disappointing after the high ranking to start the year and all the excitement," Bennett said. "Ole Miss is a school I'm really thinking about, and it's close to home. It doesn't have to be close to home, but that's nice. We'll just see. I don't have favorites. I want to visit Texas Tech and Baylor for sure."
"They'll turn around and be all right, and I play defense anyway," said Martin, who has a sister at Ole Miss. "That group is great. You want to win wherever you go, but one game doesn't mean anything. They're always good to me. I'm comfortable with everything, and I know they'll win games."
Martin and Bennett arrived to the game late and didn't get a chance to meet with the coaching staff Saturday.
JAGUARS STILL ROLLING
Martin and Bennett both want to put the majority of their recruitment on the backburner until Madison Central finishes its season. And with the Jaguars playing like they are, it's understandable why.
Madison Central is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state. The Jaguars have yet to be in any real danger of defeat and recently defeated rival Clinton, 24-3, on statewide television.
"We're kind of rolling along right now," Martin said. "Everybody's pumped up and excited. Before the season, we said it's state title or bust, and we still have that goal. It's the only goal."
South Panola derailed MC's 2008 season in the north-half finals, and those same Tigers have also caught fire this year after a loss to Memphis University School earlier this season. Martin said he'd be lying if he said he didn't watch South Panola's scores.
"I can't wait for the playoffs, and I definitely follow them," Martin said. "They are doing well. I think we'll see them again. There are other teams that are good, but South Panola gets your pulse up. We know if we play well we have what it takes. We're working hard and really confident right now."
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