Ryan Buchanan was easy to find on college football Saturdays this season.
By: Ben Garrett, Ole Miss Spirit reporter
When Ole Miss played at home, he was along the Rebel sideline prior to kickoff, shaking hands with fellow recruits and Ole Miss commitments.
The star recruiter of Ole Miss’ 2013 class.
Like a number of top recruits, Buchanan, rated a four-star prospect by Scout.com, watched as Ole Miss snapped a three-game losing streak to Mississippi State with a 41-24 win to close out the regular season Saturday.
In the stands beside him was Antonio Conner, a five-star safety, who attends nearby South Panola High School in Batesville, Miss.
“I’m good friends with him. I’ve seen him the last couple home games,” he said.
That is Buchanan’s role in a nutshell. He committed to Ole Miss in June, choosing the Rebels over Florida, Mississippi State, Alabama, Auburn and others. Ever since, he’s sought to bring other high-profile recruits with him, including Conner.
Ole Miss finished the season 6-6 overall and 3-5 in Southeastern Conference games. The Rebels are bowl eligible for the first time since 2009.
“He’s a humble guy for him being an Under Armour All-American, the No. 1 player in Mississippi, the top safety in America,” Buchanan said of Conner. “He keeps quiet for a reason. He told me in the locker room (after the game) how much he loves Ole Miss.
“He’s not going to tell anybody ‘Hey, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that.’ I know Ole Miss is definitely up there with his top schools. Getting that Mississippi State win is huge. Ole Miss is in a good position with him.”
Buchanan said he talked with other Ole Miss targets and commits before and after the Egg Bowl. Among the names, four-star defensive end Elijah Daniel, three-star tight end Mitch Parsons and four-star running back/linebacker Ashton Shumpert.
Each of those prospects has yet to decide on a school.
“Talking to Elijah, Mitch Parsons and all of them, they loved just seeing the campus of Ole Miss,” Buchanan said. “You know, the southern-town feeling that it has, just the atmosphere of the game. They told me they loved it. I was proud to say this is the place that I’m committed to, proud how much the fans are caring. They loved it.”
Robert Nkemdiche, the top overall recruit in the country by all recruiting services, made an appearance, as well. Robert’s brother, Denzel, is a redshirt freshman linebacker for Ole Miss. Denzel led the team in tackles with 78 in his first year as a starter this season.
“He’s been there almost every home game I have. He might have missed one or two. He’s so close to Denzel, and their family has come out and said how much they love Ole Miss,” Buchanan said.
“I’ve told Robert basically every weekend I’ve gone up there ‘Look, big things are going to happen at this place. I need you to do it with me. I need help. You’re the guy to make it happen.’ He loves Ole Miss. He’s been here so much, and with how close he is to Denzel, hopefully he’ll pick Ole Miss.”
Much has been made of Robert’s mother, Beverly, and the role she’s played in his recruitment. She’s made no secret of wanting her sons to play together at Ole Miss.
So, it should come as no surprise that Buchanan talked up Beverly when she was in attendance for Ole Miss’ 27-26 loss to Vanderbilt two weeks ago.
“I was talking to his mom Vanderbilt weekend. I walked out the tunnel with her as the whole student section was chanting Robert’s name,” he said. “She was shocked by that. She had no idea, I guess, how much he meant to this team if he committed to Ole Miss. I told her ‘Yeah, he’s a pretty good player. We want him here.’ I think it feels like their second home. Hopefully he picks Ole Miss.”
But more than any of his recruiting pitches, Buchanan said Ole Miss finally beating Mississippi State will help more than anything with those uncommitted prospects.
“It was definitely great recruiting,” he said of the game. “I know a lot of guys who are just like how I was early in my recruitment. They’re looking at both Mississippi State and Ole Miss. It’s definitely huge being able to get the Egg Bowl victory and to have that at home the way it was. It was a fun night. We stormed the field. Most of us recruits ran onto the field. It was an awesome night.