Plumlee’s roller coaster recruitment ends with an Ole Miss signing

By CAMAL PETRO,

Everything seemed set for Oak Grove quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. He had his scholarship offer to the University of Georgia and he announced his commitment before his senior season kicked off.

After a decision by Georgia coaches to give Plumlee a blueshirt, it gave the four-star dual-threat quarterback an opportunity to look around more. After taking his time visiting Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida State the last few weeks, he announced his commitment to the Rebels earlier this week.

Along with nine of his teammates who will play at the next level, Plumlee made it official with Ole Miss.

“It’s not something I initially wanted to hear,” Plumlee said of the conversation with Georgia. “God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes it’s not something that we want at initially that time. I think through this process, the blueshirt and that whole thing, it kind of made me take a step back and kind of reevaluate, and I think that’s what I needed to do at the time.

“To be at the end, I think this is where I need to be and I think this is where I was supposed to be all along. That’s where God wants me to be, for sure.”

Essentially, when a school wants to blueshirt a player, it’s just another way to go around over-signing for a particular recruiting class. It means Plumlee wouldn’t have counted against Georgia in this recruiting cycle, and he wouldn’t be put on scholarship until he’s able to arrive on campus at the beginning of the fall semester.

Georgia couldn’t host Plumlee on an official visit either, and Plumlee couldn’t host Georgia for in-home visits. An unofficial visit, where the player pays his own way, was still allowed, however. Plumlee would have been put on scholarship once fall practice started, and he would have counted toward the next recruiting cycle.

Nevertheless, Plumlee was at ease with his college choice. Moments after standing in front of his classmates and members of the Oak Grove community with a powder blue Ole Miss hat in front of him, he said it felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off his shoulders.

“This process has been really, I’m not going to say it’s bad, but it definitely took a lot of thought and effort,” Plumlee said. “So, to be able to say that I’m at the end of it and I made my decision, it’s a relief.”

Once the blueshirt conversation came up, Plumlee knew he had to look around to see if he was meant to be somewhere else. After taking a road trip through three SEC schools, plus Florida State last week, Plumlee and his parents took a night to sleep on it before the four-star quarterback knew where he belonged.

“I think God works in mysterious ways,” Plumlee said. “His timing is his timing, it’s not going to be our timing. I felt like that’s where He wants me to be. I felt like my heart was (at Ole Miss) when I took my visit there. I went to other places, and I think that’s where God wants me to be.”

Plumlee’s recruitment was different compared to most recruits. He listed as a quarterback, but at least early on in the process, some programs wanted him as a slot receiver or defensive back. On top of that, he was also a top baseball recruit who should hear his name called in the MLB Draft in June.

At Ole Miss, he’ll get his shot at quarterback and he’ll get to play at Swazye Field for Ole Miss baseball coach Mike Bianco.

“It’s going to be work, for sure,” Plumlee said. “Doing one sport in college is a job in itself, so be able to do two is truly a blessing. Since I was a little kid, people asked me, ‘What do you like better football or baseball?’ I like both. I’m playing both. To be able to actually go and play both in college is something truly special, I think. It’s going to take a lot of time, but I think it’s time I’m willing to put in.”

On the gridiron, Plumlee amassed 5,430 passing yards and 2,314 rushing yards to go along with 82 total touchdowns. As a senior, he passed for 2,834 yards on 64 percent passing with 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He also rushed for 1,444 yards and 19 scores on 162 carries.

On the baseball diamond, he hit .455 from the plate as a junior and .330 as a sophomore. The Warriors’ center fielder recorded 35 RBI last season, too, with 13 doubles and three home runs.

Oak Grove had 10 players sign Wednesday, which brings the total to 12 after Jairus Reimonenq (Arkansas State) and Jack Harris (Mississippi State) signed in the early signing period.

“To be sitting up there with guys who you grew up playing ball with, from peewee days and practicing over by the middle school, just playing football,” Plumlee said. “Now we are all going places and getting school paid for to play football, so it’s truly a blessing. I know we’re all really excited about it and I know the community is excited about it as well.”

Plumlee is one of three notable Ole Miss signees from the Pine Belt. Sumrall receiver Dannis Jackson and Hattiesburg’s Jarod Conner both signed with the Rebels, and ironically, all three played quarterback for their schools last season.

“They always wanted me to come,” Plumlee said. “Especially at the Mississippi-Alabama game, I got to spend a lot of time with those guys. A lot of guys are going places to play football, so if you’re leaning one way or another, they’re going to be like, ‘Hey, you want to come play here?’ But, they didn’t put it over our friendship that we already had. They didn’t make the friendship based on where I was going to college.”

After he committed to Ole Miss earlier this week, he understood why Conner and Jackson were so relaxed with their decisions.

“That was kind of cool to just get to hear their side of it and when they made their decision and how they were so content with it,” Plumlee said. “It was something I was ready to do, ready to make that decision, but I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to make that decision. Now that’s it finally over, I can definitely see the relief those guys feel.”