With a short amount of time to make a life-changing decision, Oak Grove’s John Rhys Plumlee went back to the drawing board, but he was not alone. Upon learning of Georgia’s interest in “blueshirting” him, he and his family evaluated their options, taking four official visits to four different schools between January 13 and February 3.
The long-time Georgia commit was looking for the place that felt most like home. It just happened to be in-state at Ole Miss, who offered him a scholarship last February.
“Opportunity is a big thing for me,” Plumlee said. “But I think God works in mysterious ways. His timing is his timing and not ours. I think [Ole Miss] is where he wants me to be. I kinda felt my heart was there when I took my visit there.
“To be from Mississippi and going to the University of Mississippi is special, for sure.”
Ranked as a four-star recruit by 247 Sports, Plumlee held offers from a bundle of SEC programs, including Mississippi State, Alabama and Florida. Some schools were interested in him at other positions, but the plan is for him to play quarterback at Ole Miss.
At Oak Grove, he lit up opposing defenses there for the better part of two years. In his final go-round with the Warriors this past season, Plumlee passed for 2834 yards and ran for another 1444. He found the end zone 52 times, leading Oak Grove to the Class 6A title game in Hattiesburg.
Oak Grove coach Drew Causey believes Plumlee is headed to a good situation in Oxford.
“He [Plumlee] made a great decision,” Causey said. “He had a bunch of great offers. With the way it worked out with him being committed for long and with what happened with all that, I’m happy he’s found him a great home. He’s gonna be fun to watch.”
Plumlee will also play baseball at Ole Miss, and he’s excited for the challenge that comes with being a dual-sport athlete at the next level.
“It’s kind of what I told myself since I was a little kid,” he said. “People ask you ‘What do you like better? Football or baseball?’ I like both, I’m playing both. So to be able to play both in college is special. It’s gonna take a lot of time, but I think it’s time I’m willing to put in.”
Plumlee was not the only Oak Grove standout to sign on Wednesday, as nine other players inked junior college football scholarships.
First-year Oak Grove players Tyson Keys and Thomas Holford signed with Northwest Mississippi Community College and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, respectively. Both transferred in prior to this past season from PCS. Keys started in a familiar role at tight end for the Warriors, while Holford played primarily on the offensive line after starting at tight end and defensive end for the Bobcats.
“Tyson and Thomas moved over here right at the beginning of the summer and just really bought into what we were doing and did a great job,” Causey said. “They had some junior college stuff and were already being looked at. It worked out for them. Just really proud of the attitude they had and the effort they always gave. Both are going to be really good.”
Ben Johnson and Kevin Barnett will join Keys at Northwest. For Johnson, the recruiting process was touch and go. The defensive back found out less than 24 hours prior to signing day that Northwest had a spot available for him.
“I’m excited about him,” Causey said of Johnson. “He’s definitely one that I felt like all year was being overlooked and under appreciated by some colleges. He’s gonna go in there and turn some heads. When it’s all said and done, he’s gonna have some big schools chasing him.”
As for Barnett, the wide receiver garnered multiple Division I offers during his junior year. But after suffering a knee injury in the spring, he was sidelined most of his senior season, making the junior college route his best option.
“He [Barnett] can go there and play one season really well, and he could have numerous offers coming out of there,” Causey said. “He’s going to be a guy that everybody is after just because we all know what he can do.”
Defensive lineman Jeric Franklin and Johnny Magee both signed with Jones. Both players are still fairly new to the game after primarily playing basketball during their time at Oak Grove. Franklin joined the team prior to his junior season in 2018, while this past year was Magee’s first on the football field. Causey sees Division I ability in both players.
Rasaiah Ruffin will join Franklin and Magee in Ellisville. Ruffin started out as a defensive end for the Warriors, but he moved to tight end prior to his junior season. Oak Grove had not utilized a tight end before the position switch.
“He [Ruffin] is a good football player,” Causey said. “He plays hard, he cares about his teammates, he cares about the program. That really came to light this year with him when he started being more vocal and more of a leader.”
Defensive lineman Austin Todd and offensive lineman Kaleb Carter inked with East Mississippi. Todd was a force at nose guard for the Warriors this past season, and Causey thought his dominance should’ve earned him at least one Division I offer.
“I think there are some schools that will have wished they offered him because he’s gonna go to East Mississippi, and they won’t have a chance to get him, probably,” Causey said. “He’s gonna be one of those that didn’t have any offers that turns out to be an SEC football player in two years.”
Carter was one of Oak Grove’s most improved players in recent years. Two years ago, Causey thought Carter would never see the field for the Warriors.
“This year, he [Carter] was a guy that we really counted on,” Causey said. “He played guard for the most part of the season, and then we kinda flipped him and our center, and he played a lot of center. He was one of those guys we counted on.”