June 25, 2010

Rebels land nation's top center

Ethan Hutson had planned to wait until sometime next month to make a verbal commitment to his school of choice.

In the last month, the four-star offensive lineman from Destrehan, La., saw his stock skyrocket and schools come out of the proverbial woodwork, looking to get involved in the race for his signature.

However, one school has been on Hutson's mind for weeks, and on Friday, he and his mother traveled there to give it one more look.

Hours later, Hutson committed to Ole Miss, becoming the Rebels' fourth commitment of the 2011 signing class.

"I've just been thinking about it since the last camp," Hutson said Friday afternoon. "Me and my mom decided to drive up, look at the campus and the academic facilities. We talked to (Ole Miss) Coach (Houston) Nutt and I decided this was the place for me to go. He was pretty excited. We both were.

"I like the town, the facilities, the coaches, everything. I was excited when I came up here for (elite) camp (earlier this month) and for junior day (in March) also. I wanted to think about it for awhile and I saw some other places, but I decided this was the place for me."

Since leaving Oxford three weeks ago, Hutson checked out Tennessee and Mississippi State. The Bulldogs, Colorado, Arizona, Tulsa, Tulane, Louisiana-Monroe and Southern Mississippi have offered. However, Hutson said his decision is final.

"Since I graduated mid-term, we thought it would be good to have an early decision," said Hutson, who will graduate from Destrehan in December and enroll at Ole Miss in January. "Plus, I wanted to get on board early and see if I could get some other guys to come with me."

Another strong factor in Ole Miss' favor was Hutson's experience with Rebel co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Mike Markuson during the elite camp.

"It was intense and he was hands-on when he was explaining," Hutson said. "Coach Markuson, he helped sell Ole Miss, too."

Hutson, a 6-foot-4, 289-pounder who is ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 1 center as well as the No. 11 prospect in Louisiana and the No. 212 prospect nationally, said he's already talked to fellow commitment Mitch Hall and another top Louisiana target, cornerback Floyd Raven, about his decision.

Hutson's father, Mark Hutson, is the offensive line coach at Tulane. The elder Hutson worked with Nutt at Murray State, Boise State and Arkansas in the 1990s.

"The whole time he was supportive of whatever I wanted to do, from the first letter I got as a junior to today," Ethan Hutson said. "He told me some stuff about places every now and then, but he didn't try to lean me one way or the other. He just said he'd be supportive of whichever school I liked the best."

Hutson has a 3.8 core grade-point average and a 28 on the ACT. He is Ole Miss' second Rivals250 commitment, joining Bay Springs, Miss., athlete Cody Prewitt.

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