So today wasn’t exactly the first official day of Ole Miss football, but it’s close. Today was the first day newcomers were required to be on campus and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt addressed the media at the Indoor Practice Facility to discuss the youngins, Jeremiah Masoli and more.Nutt wasn’t joking when he led off his address by saying it’s been a different kind of summer. The Masoli saga has been well chronicled HERE and throughout the national media. Today was the first day Nutt could officially discuss how Masoli became a Rebel to the media:
“It’s been a different summer because we don’t normally recruit in August,” Nutt said. “I’m speaking of Jeremiah Masoli. He’s here now and going through the process, checking in, all those things. We’re excited about him being here. Like I said, it’s been a little bit different. First and foremost this is a very different situation.
“First Jevan Snead decided to leave for the NFL. We felt like with Nathan Stanley, Raymond Cotton and Randall Mackey we felt like we’d be OK. And then when Raymond left that was a pretty tough hit.”
Nutt went on to say that he felt like it was his obligation to his team and players to bring a guy like Masoli in once Cotton decided to play for South Alabama.
Once Nutt was able to meet Masoli in person last weekend and “look him in the eyes” he was convinced to proceed in perusing the 5-foot-11, 220-pound quarterback.
Masoli’s official visit, in addition to Nutt’s history is what convinced Ole Miss Athletics Director Pete Boone to sign off on the transfer.
“What I liked was his contriteness and his humility and the fact that he knows what Ole Miss and Coach Nutt are doing for him,” Boone said. “I feel very good about the outcome.”
“The thing you feel good about is Houston’s history in motivating young men, hanging in there with them sometimes when they’re struggling when they’re freshmen and homesick and knowing how to deal with them,” Boone added. “He just does such a great job with that.”
According to Nutt, Stanley is on board with bringing in the former Heisman Trophy hopeful.
“I met with (Stanley) probably four or five weeks ago and told him I either had to go with a junior college route or there was a possibility of Jeremiah Masoli coming aboard with us,” Nutt said. “I love Nathan’s attitude. He’s been very receptive. He got hurt a little bit in the spring and understood what it was like not to practice and having just one quarterback available in the spring when he wasn’t able to practice.”
Having not gone through summer workouts with Ole Miss, Nutt admitted he’s curious what kind of condition Masoli is in.
“I have no idea. In talking with him a little bit today, he seems like a guy that works out a lot,” Nutt said. “But the things he’s also saying in the very next breath is, ‘boy it’s hot.’ It’s very humid and a different kind of heat here.”
The Masoli saga isn’t quite over yet. According to Nutt, Ole Miss still needs to apply a waiver request to the NCAA, which he is hopeful will be accepted.
“I mean, they could deny it,” Nutt said. “We’re hoping everything is going to be good.”
Masoli is allowed to practice while his waiver request is processed.
MAKING THE LIST: Below is a list of newcomers that have reported to camp: (list includes walk-ons (*) as well as players who either were on the team in the spring ($), grayshirted (^) or transferred from another Division-1 program (&).
—DB Cliff Coleman
—LS Will Denny
—DE Wayne Dorsey$
—OL Jared Duke
—RB/LB Martez Eastland
—OT Terrence Hackney
—QB Witt Haggard*
—OT Matt Hall&
—RB Earnest Harmon*
—OL Chase Hughes$
—ATH Evan Ingram*
—LB Clarence Jackson
—S Damien Jackson$
—OL Patrick Junen*
—ATH Brandon Keel*
—QB Randall Mackey
—LB Mike Marry^
—DL Carlton Martin
—QB Jeremiah Masoli*&
—S Brishen Mathews
—S Sam Noblin*
—FB Nicholas Parker
—RB Jeff Scott
—C Evan Swindall$
—DL Alan-Michael Thomas*
—DE Carlos Thompson
—QB Pack Toler*
—DE Cameron Whigham^
—WR Jarius Williams*
—LB Ralph Williams
**The only player Nutt was comfortable in completely ruling out was defensive back Eric Mitchell from Delray Beach, Fla.
Ole Miss will host its first organized team meeting tonight for the newcomers. Veterans are expected to report to campus tomorrow and the Rebels will hold their first practice on Sunday.
TIG COULD BE BACK:Nutt was asked for a status update regarding Tig Barksdale. After being suspended indefinitely last season, it appears the former blue chip South Panola running back/safety could be back on the practice field this fall for the Rebels.
“I’ve asked Pete Boone to allow him back onto the team,” Nutt said. “We have a contract with him as well and we’re going to hold him to that. I’ve been very pleased with his attitude, the hours that he passed in school this past spring and summer and everything looks good right now. He just has to keep going.”
Nutt added that he’s always thought of Barksdale as a tailback, but the former 2007 Mr. Football wants to play safety.
The biggest step right now will be getting Barksdale back into gameshape.
“He’s probably not in very good shape, so we’ve got to watch him,” Nutt said. “He hadn’t been in organized ball in a long time. They can say, ‘I’m in shape coach’ but probably not.”
SIMON UPDATE: Sophomore running back Tim Simon will not practice with the team this season. Simon suffered a season-ending knee injury against South Carolina in the third game of the season and still has no exact time table for his return.
“Tim, bless his heart. He has been through it,” Nutt said. “He is going to have to go through more rehab, another possible surgery. Right now we have him rehabbing. He will not be a part of the 105. He will strictly be rehabbing and will not be able to practice.” (August 6, 2010)