June 7, 2010

Notes: Maiden names leader, Abernathy gets close

OXFORD, Miss. -- Woodville (Wilkinson County), Miss., offensive tackle James Maiden was one of several immensely talented interior players at Ole Miss' two-day elite camp over the weekend.

Maiden, a 6-foot-4, 272-pounder, ran a 5.4-second 40-yard dash and posted a seven-foot broad jump, clearly impressing the Ole Miss coaches in the process.

The Rebels' brass made a strong impression on Maiden as well.

"Ole Miss is at the top," Maiden said. "(Ole Miss offensive line) Coach (Mike) Markuson worked us real hard. It was real physical."

Maiden admitted he was impressed with his performance, adding that Markuson complimented his quick feet on numerous occasions.

Maiden said he's camping at Mississippi State next week.

RAVEN MOVING CLOSE TO COMMITMENT?: Reserve, La., cornerback Floyd Raven said Sunday "things got pretty positive" during his appearance at Ole Miss Elite Camp.

"I really like the school and all," said Raven, who ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash Saturday and then displayed lock-down coverage skills throughout camp. "I felt like I was at home while I was here. There are a lot of different schools I'm going to go visit, but this is one of the main schools I like right now."

Raven, who also has offers from Arizona, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, SMU and Tulsa, said Ole Miss' coaches were "real happy with me. They said I have more ability than other kids and they would like to coach and they could help me get to the next level."

Raven wouldn't rule out making a commitment in the coming days.

"They're really looking up there," Raven said. "I'm not going to say too much right now. I'm going to relax some and visit some other schools and see what happens."

HAMILTON FALLS IN LOVE: Raleigh, Miss., defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton said Sunday he thinks he's going to commit to Ole Miss as soon as the Rebels present a firm scholarship offer.

"They're looking at me real good," Hamilton said, adding that the Ole Miss staff wants him to focus on his academics before they make an offer.

However, the 6-foot-3, 270-pounder clearly became a priority recruit for the Rebels after his strong showing. Likewise, Ole Miss made a strong impression.

"When I came here, everything changed," Hamilton said. "I looked at Alabama like there's a lot of talent. Stepping my game up is nothing. And then Mississippi State, I really wasn't feeling that. This right here is what I like. I know I'm going to be treated right and I'll get the (playing time) that I need. I know the coaches will be behind me 100 percent."

TRIBBLE HAPPY WITH PERFORMANCE: Hamilton's teammate, defensive end Jraven Tribble, said Ole Miss' coaches told him they're going to start looking at him much more closely in the coming weeks and months before deciding whether to offer. Tribble said he plans to return to Ole Miss next month for a one-day camp. Ole Miss, Tribble said, is "real high" on his list.

"I just want to wait until closer to signing day," Tribble said.

ABERNATHY FEELS AT HOME: Atlanta running back Ralph David Abernathy ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash on Saturday, a time that would've thrilled almost any other athlete. Abernathy, however, wanted a better time.

"I felt like no one could cover me because of my speed and my quickness, so I feel like I had a pretty good workout," Abernathy said. "I want to get back down under 4.3 (seconds), but it happens."

Abernathy continues to list Ole Miss in his top three schools with Stanford and Cincinnati, but he admitted Sunday that he very nearly pulled the trigger on a decision.

"It feels like home, to be honest," Abernathy said. "It feels like I'm with family. It feels like I walk in the door and I know everybody. It feels great to be here. I just like being down here in Oxford. It's really nice."

Abernathy said he'll commit to his school of choice "whenever it feels right," though he admitted he was "almost ready to do it today. It felt pretty good today, but I couldn't do it."

HOLDER MAKES MOVE: Lumberton, Miss., cornerback Darius Holder, a 6-foot-1, 185-pounder, made a huge jump over the weekend, displaying surprising speed and excellent open-field coverage skills.

"I think I did pretty good," Holder said. "It was all right to me. I liked all the atmosphere out here. It was real fun."

Holder said the Rebels' coaches told him "they're coming to get me." He said the Rebels "are probably one of my top schools right now. I like how it's pretty clean. They feed you good."

WOOD SHOWS VERSATILITY: Birmingham, Ala., linebacker Kameron Wood spent Saturday at his natural position and then moved to defensive end on Sunday. The 6-3 , 212-pounder ran a 4.71-second 40-yard dash, measurables that could project to either position.

"They gave me an offer and they said they wanted me to commit today, but I said I have to talk it over with my family and all," Wood said. "Then I'll let them know."

Wood said he hopes to have a decision by late July or early August, adding that Ole Miss is in a four-way race with Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Arkansas for his services.

WAITING GAME FOR PATRICK: Philadelphia, Miss., wide receiver Tyriq Patrick, who committed to Memphis late last month, admitted Sunday that he really wants an Ole Miss offer after his camp appearance in Oxford.

"Ole Miss has been my favorite school," Patrick said. "Me coming to this camp and them showing me love made it even better than it was. I want to stay in-state and it's my favorite school. They'd be real tough to beat."

WHITEHEAD SOLID TO MSU?: Cornerback Jermaine Whitehead, who committed to Mississippi State during the spring, spent the weekend at Ole Miss. The Rebels clearly covet the Greenwood, Miss., native, but they've got their hands full in trying to turn him.

"I heard people on TV say that if it wasn't for the SEC patch on (Mississippi State's) uniform that they wouldn't stand a chance and they wouldn't be known," Whitehead said. "I kind of want to change that. I think I'm about 100 percent now. …(Ole Miss) could win me over, but I kind of have that feeling that I'm going to Mississippi State for sure now."

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Ocean Springs, Miss., wide receiver Joseph Morrow said if today were signing day, Ole Miss would be "No. 2 in my decision." Morrow, a 6-4, 195-pounder who did not run a 40 on Saturday, said Arkansas leads for his services at this point.

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