Mississippi bankers love football.

That was apparent during Renasant's conference call Thursday to discuss its deal for First M&F. Renasant (RNST) is based in Tupelo, while First M&F (FMFC) is in Kosciusko.

It took three questions before analyst Kevin Reynolds drew attention to the strong football recruiting class at the University of Mississippi, located about 50 miles west of Tupelo. National signing day took place Wednesday.

"Congratulations on two things — this transaction and a stunningly strong recruiting class," Reynolds said to Robin McGraw, Renasant's president and chief executive, and an Ole Miss alumnus.

"I knew we had to get to the important stuff," McGraw quipped.

For the record, ESPN gave Ole Miss credit for having the nation's fifth-best freshman class, including top-ranked recruit Robert Nkemdiche.

Other notable members of its past teams include New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher, who was featured in the book and film, "The Blind Side." Oher won his first Super Bowl on Sunday, when the Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers.

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