December 15, 2010

Ole Miss lands JUCO stars

Brooklyn (N.Y.) ASA College is home to a lot of big-time talent at just about every position and two of the better prospects from the school have signed to attend Ole Miss and join the Rebels' football program.

Defensive tackle Gilbert Pena and safety Ivan Nicholas will be bringing their game to the SEC. The two prospects took official visits to Ole Miss more than a week ago and it didn't take long for them to decide that's where they wanted to go.

"I signed," Pena said early Wednesday afternoon. "That's it. I'm done. I did it this morning."

The visit was a huge factor for Pena, just as it was for Nicholas.

"I've been on a few visits and after going through all my visits and talking to my family I had it narrowed down to three. I spoke to my mom and my sister yesterday and I just decided where I want to go. I decided I'm going to Mississippi.

"For one, I built a relationship with the defensive line coach, coach (Terry) Price. I felt really confident in the chances and opportunities I'll have down at Mississippi. Also, my family was big on the decision I made and that helped me a lot.

"Ole Miss has kind of been there with me from the start. They were the first school to offer me and they stuck with me. They didn't have to see too much. I'm ready to be a part of the SEC."

Ole Miss offered Pena back at the end of October. He said he chose between Ole Miss, Kansas State and Florida State. Playing time was also a factor.

"I think they're losing four defensive tackles so they want me to come in and play immediately."

This year at ASA, Pena recorded around 50 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Another reason he's excited about his future at Ole Miss is the fact that Nicholas will be going to the school as well.

Nicholas, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound safety, had received offers from Ole Miss and North Carolina. He officially visited Ole Miss with Pena this month.

"Ivan Nicholas has also signed," Pena confirmed. "That was actually another thing that stood out to me. It will be nice to have my good friend there. I've been playing football with him for two years and we've got a good relationship over here at ASA College. It'll be nice to have the opportunity to play with him another two years. It was a bunch of things that came into play."

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