Exclusive: #1 Recruit Rashan Gary's Mother Jennifer Coney Addresses Ole Miss Recruiting Tactics

Ole Miss football is under some deep scrutiny following Thursday night's hack of 1st round draft pick Laremy Tunsil's social media accounts, in which text message screen shots of conversation between an Ole Miss Assoc. Athletic Director and Tunsil revealed extra benefits being offered to the highly touted OL.

In a press conference following being selected #13 overall by the Miami Dolphins, Tunsil was asked about the validity of the screen shots posted on his Instagram, and he admitted to taking cash benefits from Ole Miss officials. While Tunsil may have to enter a substance abuse program in the NFL stemming from a post on his Twitter profile, most of the scrutiny following his admission has fallen on the Mississippi football program.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has been under a microscope for several years for the high-caliber of players he has convinced to come play at Ole Miss that have no ties to the school, state, or coaching staff. In 2013, Freeze signed the nation's #4 recruiting class, highlighted by the commitment of three 5-star players (all of whom have been drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft): #1 player Robert Nkemdiche, #3 player Tunsil, and #28 player Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell and Ole Miss came under additional scrutiny during the recruitment process when two days after his official visit to Ole Miss in January 2013 (in which #1 player Nkemdiche was in attendance) Treadwell posted 2 photos on Instagram: one of him flashing $100 bills, and another with two young woman kissing his cheek. Both photos were reported to have been taken while at Ole Miss.


During this time period, many fans on Twitter and message boards, (and even some coaches privately) all questioned Ole Miss' recruiting methods, via creative spellings like "Ole Mi$$," and otherwise. Days before signing day 2013, Coach Hugh Freeze tweeted in defense of his recruiting class, and baited the doubters to prove their allegations. The tweet was deleted, but Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman captured the content with an old-school RT:


Fast forward three years to the 2016 recruiting class. Ole Miss saw extraordinary success with the 2013 class, including back-to-back wins over Alabama in 2014 and 2015. As signing day 2016 approached, Ole Miss was a finalist for the best 2 players in the country, DT Rashan Gary from New Jersey, and OL Greg Little from Texas (Little signed with Ole Miss in the 2016 class).

On Friday morning, we spoke to Jennifer Coney, the mother of #1 overall player Gary (who chose Michigan on signing day), about her experience with Ole Miss coaches, and her answers may surprise you.

Coney was very involved in Gary's recruitment, including going to Ole Miss with him during the 2015 football season on his official visit. Ole Miss was a finalist for Gary, so we asked her about her experience with the coaches, and if any extra benefits were offered:

Chat Sports: Can you address speculation that Ole Miss offers additional benefit to recruits, and whether that happened with you, or Rashan's friend (and #2 recruit) Greg Little?

Coney: "No one offered us money, not at Ole Miss anyways. We were offered money, but not from Ole Miss. I'm close with Terry Little (Greg's mother) and no one offered Greg money, no one did. No one offered money for Rashan to commit, not from Ole Miss.


Chat Sports: Which schools did offer money?

Coney: "There were some, but I can't say. Definitely not Ole Miss. I developed a good relationship with the coaching staff, Coach (Chris) Kiffin, Coach (Hugh) Freeze, (recruiting coordinator) Bruce Johnson, Coach (Dave) Wommack, they're great guys. Over the course of a year and a half as they were recruiting Rashan, we had a great relationship. They recruited not only Rashan, but myself and my family. I don't have a negative thing to say about them.

"At other schools, and I never questioned it, but maybe if I had opened the door (for payment), maybe..but, my son was never for sale. There was a school of two that financially I couldn't get there (for unofficial visits), and they said 'don't worry about it'. Sure, I'd like to go to that school for a visit, but I'd never jeopardize anything for Rashan just for a visit. There's crud out there, and I've seen some crud, but the University of Michigan was pure love, and that's where we are, and we're proud to be there, but no one ever offered us anything at Ole Miss."

Chat Sports: Did you ever see anything financially out of the ordinary with players when taking campus visits with Rashan? Any indication that certain schools were offering impermissible financial benefits after a player got on campus?

Coney: "My thing is, I think it's the way you present yourself. So, this is just my own thought...If a player is telling a coach about his financial situation at home, it doesn't paint a good picture about his home situation.

"In general, parents shouldn't be counting on their teenage kids for financial support. 

"But, like I said with Ole Miss, it was all love, no one tried to offer money to Rashan in any way. They didn't offer a visit, a dinner, nothing that wasn't legal, because I made sure everything was all right before we did anything. So, it was fine at Ole Miss.

"Rashan was the #1 player in the country, if they are going to offer anybody anything, don't you think they would have offered him?"

Rashan Gary will enroll at Michigan in June and is expected to contribute heavily this fall.

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Related Topics: Greg Little, SEC Football, Big Ten Football, Rashan Gary, Michigan Football Recruiting, Laremy Tunsil, Michigan Football Recruiting News, Mississippi Rebels Football