December 6, 2011

Brown fields call from new Ole Miss coach

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- As his offers piled up over the past year or so, it was clear that Richie Brown would have plenty of options.

All of the major Division I programs in Mississippi offered, as did LSU, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Indiana, Stanford and more.

The four-star linebacker from Long Beach, Miss., always listed Arkansas State among the schools he was seriously considering. The Red Wolves weren't in a BCS-affiliated conference, didn't get the exposure of those programs in the SEC, Big 12 or Pac-12, but they were led by Hugh Freeze, a coach that always impressed Brown.

So Monday afternoon, when Freeze called Brown shortly after being introduced as Ole Miss' new head coach, Brown said the moment _ and the irony associated with it _ was "weird."

One day he was calling me about Arkansas State, saying, 'Hey, come here,'" Brown said. "Now he's not at Arkansas State and he's saying, 'Hey, come here to Ole Miss.' They have a few of the staff guys that are still recruiting me. I think Coach (Grant) Heard is still with them. They're still continuing their recruiting and they're doing a good job at it. They've stepped it up. He called me right when he got hired, so I can definitely tell he means business."

Brown, in Montgomery this week to prepare for Saturday's Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, said Freeze has always impressed him on the recruiting trails.

"He just believes," Brown said. "His morals are similar to mine. He has a great personality. He believes things should be done God first, team second. That's how I believe, too, and that's how I play the game."

Former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt offered Brown last spring and the Rebels have been in touch ever since. Brown said he will take an official visit to Ole Miss in January. He's already lined up officials visits to Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State. LSU, Vanderbilt and Purdue are vying for the remaining two official visits.

"I'm still looking at the players on the (Ole Miss) team, they players that are committing, the players here (in Montgomery this week), where they're thinking about going," Brown said. "There are different factors, but now I know they have a good coach. I respect Coach Freeze. He's a good man.

"It's not too late. They've been recruiting me. One way or the other, I've been in contact with them. I'm just going to go through it as normal, take my visits and really just how it all rolls out."

While Freeze was introduced as Ole Miss' new coach Monday, there could be more changes in the state. Southern Miss' Larry Fedora appears to be headed to either North Carolina or Texas A&M, while Mississippi State's Dan Mullen continues to be listed as a candidate at Penn State. Brown said he's monitoring those situations, adding that he knows wherever he goes could have coaching changes at any time.

"Mississippi State's a great school and they've got great coaches so far," Brown said. "If they're there, they're there, but they've got good players, too. They've got some young guys and they're looking pretty good."

Brown said Mullen came to his house recently and "cleared up some things and cleared up some rumors. He said he still wants me to come there because he isn't leaving. I'm still watching to see. You never know what's going to happen. That's why I'm waiting, so I can see what's going on."

Brown said he's in no hurry to make a decision, adding he believes he ultimately will choose based on comfort.

"It's really just going to be how I fit in," Brown said.

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