Ole Miss Blog - College

  • Sun Aug 25 01:37pm EDT

    Finally, it’s game-week

    Football season has arrived. There is a full slate of games this weekend, kicking off with South Carolina versus North Carolina late Thursday afternoon.

    Ole Miss, of course, opens its season later that evening in Nashville, Tenn., against Vanderbilt. As of Sunday morning, the Rebels are a 3- to 3 1/2-point favorite over the Commodores. The game appears pivotal for both teams, and the winner figures to enter the middle of September as a media darling of sorts. The loser, meanwhile, will have to climb out of an early hole, never a fun task in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference.

    Hugh Freeze will address the media Monday. One of the questions he’ll be asked is which running backs will make Thursday’s trip to Nashville. If freshman Jordan Wilkins is among those making the trek to Nashville, he will be playing against his brother.

    Vanderbilt's James Franklin, meanwhile, has some running back questions to address as well. Specifically, how do the Commodores possibly replace Zac Stacy?

    Alabama opens its season on Saturday against Virginia Tech in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 1 in every major preseason poll, are shooting for its third consecutive national title. Alabama is searching for a repeat SEC crown. How tough is the SEC? It's been easier for Nick Saban to win national titles than league championships in Tuscaloosa. No SEC champ has repeated since 1998 when Tennessee accomplished the feat.

    Georgia almost spoiled Alabama's title bid last December. Georgia’s offense, led by Aaron Murray, is tremendous again. However, the Bulldogs have questions on defense. They need to be answered if Mark Richt and Co. are going to make another run at an SEC title.

    In other football-related news:

    He’s in his third year at Florida, but Orlando Sentinel Mike Bianchi still isn’t convinced Gator Nation has embraced Will Muschamp.

    Brady Hoke wants to win a national title at Michigan. He watched Alabama dismantle Notre Dame in January to claim its second straight BCS title and was convinced he’s on to something in Ann Arbor. That something: Smash-mouth football on both lines of scrimmage.

    Nebraska's Bo Pelini gave his team a glimpse of his funny side during fall camp in Lincoln.

    In the NFL, meanwhile, Eli Manning and the New York Giants’ offense have two weeks to fix things, but they have really struggled this preseason.

    The New England Patriots are “moving forward” without former tight end Aaron Hernandez, but the reminders of the story are everywhere.

    Chase Parham’s beloved New Orleans Saints are treating today’s game at Houston as a dress rehearsal.

    Off-topic, here are some Sunday links that caught my eye today. Enjoy.

    I remember covering my first sporting event after the 9-11 attacks on New York and Washington. I was covering Auburn at the time, and the Tigers played at Syracuse on Sept. 20. Security at the Carrier Dome was air-tight, as then-Gov. George Pataki was in the building. I remember being scared of a terrorist attack that night, a fear that has never completely gone away as I enter stadium after stadium each fall. I used to have a real fear about dying in a terrorism attack on a stadium. Who knows? It could still happen. But the end of my stay here on Earth is much more likely to be caused by something _ anything _ else.

    One of my fears on gameday is getting stuck on a packed stadium elevator. I'll have a new perspective from now on though. At least I'm not stuck in space.That happened to Donald Pettit and the Expedition Six crew.

    Finally, one of my favorite movies ever is “For Love of the Game.” It stars Kevin Costner playing the role of Billy Chapel, an aging Detroit Tigers pitcher trying to make a career decision as he finishes the season against the New York Yankees. The movie is really more of a love story, and I'll freely admit I'm a bit of a sucker for those. Anyway, the announcer for that Tigers-Yankees "game" is legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, who just signed up for another season as the Dodgers' play-by-play man at the youthful age of 85. If you've never watched a Dodgers game just to listen to Scully narrate the action all by himself, you haven't lived. He's simply the best there ever was.

    Finally, happy 71st birthday to my dad, Mike McCready. Not everyone in this life is blessed with a loving, caring, supportive father figure who has always been there when needed, but I am. I couldn't be more fortunate.

  • Ole Miss released its 2013-14 men's basketball schedule Tuesday, and the Rebels _ for the first time in a long time _ really don't have anything to complain to the Southeastern Conference office about.

    The Rebels, coming off a SEC tournament title and a trip to the third round of the NCAA tournament, open league play at home against Auburn on Jan. 9. The Rebels get LSU at home and play home-and-homes against Kentucky, South Carolina, Vanderbilt Alabama and Mississippi State. Florida comes to Tad Smith Coliseum on Feb. 22. Andy Kennedy, who has had a remarkable run of road wins at Arkansas, draws the Razorbacks in Fayetteville on March 5.

    It should come as no surprise, but Kentucky and Florida are the teams CBS and ESPN are banking on this winter and spring. The Wildcats and Gators will be on national television 14 times each.

    Ole Miss will see six of its 18 SEC games televised nationally. It stands to reason that embattled shooting guard Marshall Henderson will be on the floor with his team in plenty of time for league play. However, Kennedy told The Sporting News Henderson will definitely miss some games. How many? Who knows? Kennedy isn't saying, and it likely depends on Henderson's compliance with his rules of return.

    Henderson hasn't tweeted since July 11, but he's back in Oxford and expected to be in classes on Monday when the fall semester commences. With Henderson on the floor, Ole Miss is a contender to return to the NCAA tournament. Without him, the Rebels likely don't have the firepower to make a run.

    In other news:

    Here's a pretty cool story about former Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerrell Powe running into Kansas City Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson -- again.

    Bryce Harper did nothing last night to temper my excitement about the progress being made by Chicago Cubs prospect Kris Bryant. The two are former high school rivals. Maybe they'll be reunited at Wrigley some day? Maybe? A guy can dream.

    The odds of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning winning the NFL's MVP award are 25:1 according to one Las Vegas book.

    It wouldn't be fair to compare newly-minted Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to former Tiger Cameron Newton. However, Gus Malzahn is willing. No pressure there, Nick.

    Finally, Tyler Campbell, D.T. Shackelford, Charles Sawyer, Jeff Scott and Mike Marry are on the Senior Bowl's watch list, released Tuesday. There are 72 players from SEC teams on the list.

  • Mon Aug 12 02:03pm EDT

    Anything to see here?

    OXFORD, Miss. -- The NCAA is looking into Ole Miss' recruitment of former five-star defensive lineman Chris Jones, according to a CBS Sports.com story published late Sunday.

    Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was asked about the report following Monday's practice said he has had no contact with the NCAA and has "no clue" about the NCAA's reported inquiry into the Houston, Miss., product.

    "I know nothing about it other than what one of you guys told me last night," Freeze said.

    Sunday's story was the second in a week revealing alleged NCAA inquiries into Ole Miss' recruiting. Earlier last week, the (Memphis, Tenn.) Commercial-Appeal reported the NCAA talked to a Philadelphia, Miss., furniture store regarding allegations that defensive end C.J. Johnson received improper benefits in exchange for his signature. Ole Miss officials said the school was cleared of any wrongdoing following the inquiry.

    "I hope that I'm the only one that deals with it," Freeze said Monday when asked if the media reports are a distraction for his team, one preparing for the Aug. 29 season opener at Vanderbilt. "I certainly don't want it to affect what our team's doing or what our coaches are doing. I'm confident in the way we go about things. I've said that from Day One.

    "Whoever their sources are, I'm sure they'll check them out like they do every other one. But again, I'm very confident in the way we're going about our business here and the way we want to do it. We've got to get ready for Vandy, so we certainly can't let whatever all that is affect us."

    Asked why these stories seem to be popping up now, Freeze said: "You'd have to ask y'all's sources who give y'all all the stuff you write stories about. I don't know who those sources are. Certainly the NCAA doesn't talk about it, so I don't know where you're getting it. Y'all tell me where you're getting it and then we'll try to figure out what's going on."

    I don't know who the sources are, either, though I could hazard a strong guess on where Jeremy Fowler learned of the NCAA's inquiry into Jones. I'm not criticizing Fowler, either; a five-star prospect's recruiting being investigated is newsworthy. However, it's a safe bet Fowler's source is in Starkville, which begs another question: Why would anyone around Mississippi State want the NCAA digging into Chris Jones?

    I'm not naive. I know college football recruiting isn't squeaky clean. However, Jones' recruiting was more bizarre than any recruiting story I've ever followed, and I've covered some dandies. Jones made clandestine trips to Oxford, trips that one Mississippi State-based "media outlet" vociferously denied, even when photographic proof of the visits took place. Jones himself appeared to be overwhelmed by the process, lying to reporters about his travels and then finally telling ESPN.com's Kipp Adams that he received death threats in the days leading up to National Signing Day.

    The stories regarding Johnson and Jones make it clear that, at the very least, the NCAA is undertaking a fishing expedition of sorts into Ole Miss. The Rebels' 2013 recruiting class, one ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's seventh-best, ruffled some feathers. Under Houston Nutt, the Rebels were not a factor on national recruits not from Mississippi. Before that, the same basically held true on national recruits not named Eli Manning. It's not all that surprising the NCAA would throw a few poles in the water.

    Further, when Freeze challenged anyone with knowledge of recruiting improprieties involving Ole Miss to contact the school's compliance office, that almost invited the scrutiny.

    My opinion is we'll see more reports like these in the next few months, but unless they have a lot more bite to them, there's not a whole lot for Ole Miss fans to worry about. On top of that, the NCAA is understaffed, hasn't displayed much of a taste for blood recently and has more than enough problems of its own these days.

    Take a look at Ole Miss' current commitment class. Unlike a year ago, when the Rebels landed national recruits such as Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil, this one has a strong Mississippi flavor to it. Outside of Gerri Green, Mississippi State doesn't have a commitment from any player in the Magnolia State that the Rebels covet. There seems to be a sense among prospects in the state that Freeze is stealing momentum away from Dan Mullen, who previously ripped it away from Houston Nutt. Planting a seed of doubt about Ole Miss, even a small one, in the minds of prospects might not be a bad strategy on MSU's part.

    Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there's a smoldering gun somewhere. This just feels like a goose chase of sorts, one that will likely lead to increased rhetoric among fans, a salicious headline or two and a little more fuel for both sides leading up to Thanksgiving night.

  • Johnny Manziel's attorney predicted late Friday that the Texas A&M quarterback will be under center when the Aggies open the season against Rice on Aug. 31.

    That's debatable, in all likelihood, after a pair of ESPN.com reports in the last week cited memorabilia brokers saying the Heisman Trophy winner accepted thousands of dollars in exchange for his autograph, a clear violation of NCAA rules.

    The media is covering every angle of the story, from Manziel's every action to the hypocrisy of the NCAA's profiting off student-athletes to Manziel's parents putting their house near College Station, Texas, up for sale.

    Manziel is tough to cheer for, but it's important to note, in the light of another couple of stories this week in the Southeastern Conference, that the quarterback hasn't hurt anyone. Maybe he's exhibited a brazen disregard for rules. Perhaps he's a cocky punk. It's possible he'll one day be viewed as a renegade who _ knowingly or unknowingly _ stood up to the NCAA and changed the face of collegiate athletics forever.

    But he hasn't hurt anyone. The same can't be said today in Nashville, Tenn., or Baton Rouge, La. We'll start with Nashville, where late Friday, four former Vanderbilt players were indicted on multiple counts each in connection with an alleged rape of a female VU student in June.

    Two things caught my eye when reading that story. One was the word unconscious. If the former players wanted in connection with the alleged rape are guilty, here's hoping there's a special place in hell for their permanent residence. The second was the reference to the likelihood of subpoenas for several witnesses. Let me be clear: I have no idea what the players in question, including Vanderbilt starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, saw or didn't see. However, it's what I desperately want to know.

    Carta-Samuels is among five current Commodores listed in the indictment as witnesses for the prosecution if the case goes to trial. The others include offensive lineman Jake Bernstein, wide receiver DeAndre Woods, tight end Dillon van der Wal and snapper Mack Prioleau. Perhaps they received texts. Perhaps they went to the authorities. I just want to know, and frankly, I want to know before the Commodores open the season on Aug. 29 against Ole Miss.

    I can't help it, I guess. As a father of two young girls, I find rape to be as unforgivable as murder, and that word, witnesses, conjures the idea that others saw something allegedly happening and did nothing to stop it. I don't want police to jeopardize their case, but I'd like that answer. Further, if the five potential witnesses didn't actually see anything, police owe it to them to clarify the specific reason they're being subpoenaed.

    One way or the other, there should be _ and likely will be, in fairness _ outrage in and around the Vanderbilt football program. If the allegations are true, a young woman's life has been destroyed. Manziel has done nothing of the kind.

    On to Baton Rouge, where running back Jeremy Hill was reinstated to the Tigers' football program earlier this week after

    State District Judge Bonnie Jackson ordered Hill to perform 40 hours of community service and renewed restrictions on his probation, ones imposed after Hill's guilty plea to battery charges stemming from an April incident in which he punched a man at a Baton Rouge bar. But she also agreed to curfew flexibility that allowed him to take part in team activities.

    The April arrest violated the terms of Hill's existing probation from his guilty plea of carnal knowledge of a juvenile during his time as a high school student. Prosecutors had asked for Hill's probation to be revoked, which would have sent him back to jail.

    But while admonishing Hill over the "arrogance" he showed on a video of the April incident -- in which Hill laughs after delivering a blow that sent the victim to the hospital -- Jackson also said she understands that young people make mistakes.

    Hill said that he "let my emotions get the best of me" at the April incident and was "terribly sorry."

    Hill's Monday hearing was originally scheduled for Aug. 16 before a request from Hill's attorney, Marci Blaize, to move it forward to Aug. 5. Blaize denied that the rescheduling was in response to the Tigers' practice schedule, saying she had a scheduling conflict with the Aug. 16 date and adding that her primary goal was to keep Hill enrolled at LSU and registered for classes.

    Somewhere Manziel is wondering why this isn't a bigger story. The video of Hill's attack is disturbing on multiple levels. Hill is still in school at LSU because he can help win football games. CBS' Gregg Doyel nailed it in a column earlier this week. TCU coach Gary Patterson, who will coach against the Tigers in three weeks, criticized LSU coach Les Miles for reinstating Hill, saying the action didn't teach a life lesson. He's right, of course, but Miles is paid to win games, not teach life lessons.

    Still, Hill shouldn't be playing on SEC football fields. Miles shouldn't have allowed it. Vanderbilt owes fans some answers too. People shouldn't be asked to spend money to attend games without knowing with certainty why investigators want to speak to those five Commodores. In both of those cases, people got hurt. In that context, Manziel looks awfully innocent.

    Some other notes of interest:

    Former South Panola standout Deon Mix, a great kid who always looked soft at the prep level, attacked his weight in the offseason and is drawing rave reviews at Auburn.

    Alabama's heralded defensive line class is living up to the hype in fall camp.

    Bobby Bowden and Phillip Fulmer want a spot on college football's playoff selection committee.

    Major League Gaming? Oh, it could happen, and there might be big bucks to be had.

    Kris Bryant keeps hitting home runs and tempting my Cubbie excitement.

    The Brooklyn Nets have scoffed at the NBA's collective bargaining agreement. If the season started today, the Nets _ complete with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Darren Williams and Co. _ would be on the hook for an $87 million tax bill. Soon-to-be-NBA commish Adam Silver doesn't seem thrilled, and he just might take a page from the NFL and work to install a hard salary cap in his league down the road.

    I still haven't started "Breaking Bad," but I know many of you have. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison is apparently a big fan too. He breaks down the latest in the popular series here.

    I took my son to see "Planes" Friday. It wasn't a tear-jerker like "Toy Story 3" or "Up," but it was good. He loved it. I loved the time with him. I'm thankful movies like "Planes" roll around so frequently. We saw the preview for "Frozen," due out around Thanksgiving, before the feature showing. He's already talking about our next outing. Life gets no better.

    Finally, meet "Nick Beef" and learn how a chance encounter with the president of the United States changed a six-year-old's life and fueled years of conspiracy theories.

  • Kudos to the Wall Street Journal.

    The publication found _ or was tipped off, but really, who cares? _ a May 4 Oxford Police Department report which detailed Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson being caught with marijuana and cocaine on the heels of being stopped for suspicion of speeding. It's worth noting _ on a number of fronts, really _ that the Clarion-Ledger's Hugh Kellenberger reported late Thursday that Henderson was not arrested as a result of the stop.

    "Marshall Henderson was very cooperative and that's why just the citation was issued," Oxford police chief Joey East told the C-L. Henderson was cited for lack of proof of liability insurance.

    The report comes a day after Ole Miss issued a statement suspending the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer for an indefinite period of time.

    "Since the season ended, we have talked a lot about Marshall taking a greater leadership role with our team," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said in the UM-released statement. "With that comes greater responsibility, and he must do a better job of living up to the high standards we expect from him and he desires from himself."

    Later Wednesday, Henderson _ with the help of his friend and Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche _ released a statement of sorts via Instagram, essentially downplaying his suspension. It was a horrible idea, one that led to a tremendous amount of deserved criticism from regional and national media. Henderson also took to Twitter Wednesday, engaging Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews in a back-and-forth. In short, the whole day was a public relations disaster for the Texas native and the Ole Miss program.

    Henderson implied in a Twitter post Thursday that he's "not going anywhere." Kennedy told USA Today Henderson is enrolled in second summer session and still could return to the floor this season for Ole Miss.

    Personally, I believe Henderson will return. First, however, he has to rehabilitate himself on two fronts. Henderson must first overcome his drug addiction. That's obvious. Then he must rehabilitate his image.

    As I've said many times, I like Henderson. I find him funny, engaging, likable, intelligent, witty and challenging. He rewards smart questions with thoughtful answers and punishes stupid questions with short, smarmy responses. I love that. He seems to keep score on which reporters have been fair and which ones have taken cheap shots. I love that even more. As a journalist, I like that game.

    Still, Henderson clearly has issues. Life after basketball, hopefully, will be a long one for Henderson, and he needs to address the demons in his life. This isn't, after all, his first struggle with drugs. Henderson also needs to show some contrition. He needs to own his mistakes and his actions and not let the university do it for him. After he undergoes rehabilitation for his drug issues, Henderson needs to sit down with the media entity or entities of his choice and answer every question. He needs to be forthright. He needs to be apologetic. Then Henderson needs to chill.

    He can't taunt opposing fans anymore. He can't respond to taunts after a tough loss. He can't provoke. Henderson must find a way to play with the infectious energy that makes him such an explosive player without instigating others in the process. It's a fine line, sure, but he simply has to learn how to toe it.

    The bet here is Henderson plays again, likely long before Southeastern Conference action begins in January. He won't be able to avoid the microscope, and his detractors will be waiting to pounce on the first mistake he makes. I suspect Ole Miss knows this _ how could it not? _ and I would further guess Henderson's leash to remain with the program couldn't be shorter.

    That's the funny thing. Ole Miss needs Henderson. Without him, the Rebels don't erase that NCAA tournament drought. Without him, the program likely doesn't even register on college basketball's radar.

    Now, Henderson needs Ole Miss just as much. He needs the school to help him get the help he needs and then to produce a road to image recovery. It's long and riddled with land mines. If Henderson can navigate it, he has the game and the personality to be college hoops' feel-good story in March.

    Otherwise, Henderson's stay in Oxford will be remembered more for the flame-out than for the excitement he injected into a moribund program.

    And that would be a shame.

  • OXFORD, Miss. -- So all of you can make fun of me later I'm taking a shot at next season's opening day lineup.

    This is an annual occurrence, and sometimes I get closer than others. Last season's was fairly spot on except I had Tanner Bailey as the Sunday starter and Chase Nyman at second base. Bailey had a nice year in the bullpen, and we all know how the latter worked out. I also had no idea how good Stuart Turner was going to be.

    Here's this year's best guesses. Hope it's informative at times and somewhat accurate when the Rebels take the field next February.

    Catcher: Austin Knight .167 BA/.192 OBP/.208 SLG OR Will Allen .231/.264/.313

    Turner stole the show in 2013 on the way to All-America honors by multiple publications, so in a way this will be deja vu back to 2012, when Allen and Knight split time behind the plate. Knight is the better catch-and-throw defender, throwing out 6-of-8 runners as a freshman. He was 0-for-3 in very limited action this past season. Allen has more pop offensively but needs to return to his sophomore self. After hitting .302 as a sophomore he fell to .231. Allen could also land at first base or designated hitter, as Mike Bianco likes his bat in the lineup. I expect both to play, and I wouldn't be shocked if another catcher is added prior to fall practice.

    First Base: Preston Overbey .280/.330/.415

    Overbey began the season as an outfielder but second base issues forced him into the infield, and he played remarkably well considering the inexperience and lingering shin splints that affected him all season. His bat will play, and he can make tremendous strides if he can be a little less of a free-swinger out of the zone. Overbey can be a plus defender at first base, and it takes pressure off his legs. Also while Overbey did all he could, Ole Miss needs to get stronger and quicker up the middle.

    Second Base: Dalton Dulin (Memphis University School)

    As you'll notice I'm shaking things up a little bit and going with somewhat of a youth movement. Dulin is a dirtbag in the best sense of the word. He's very solid defensively, and while his arm isn't great it's plenty good for second base. He transitions well in double plays, and he can steal bases and be a terror with his feet. Dulin switch hits with some lift and gap power from the left side. He was drafted in the 36th round but should show and provide immediate help for the Rebels. He's a great hustle player, and his background should help the transition.

    Shortstop: Errol Robinson (St. John's College, Boyd, Md.)

    Here's my biggest reach, but I think it helps the team overall. Robinson is extremely athletic and does everything very well. He needs to add weight and strength, but he has plus range defensively and profiles as a shortstop at the professional level - probably the only player on the roster that does so. His offense has improved over time, and he'll add some pop later in his career. The key early will be bat control and contact, but from a defensive standpoint, this gives the Rebels needed range in the middle infield.

    Third Base: Austin Anderson .310/.386/.418

    Anderson finished over .300 for the year and was the Rebels' best hitter late in the season. He struck out only 13 times in2013 and should make more improvements for his senior season. Throwing errors plagued him defensively as a junior, as he was charged with 18 miscues. A move to third should help in that area, as he has good hands and reaction times, and there's a hole to fill with the exit of Andrew Mistone. Starting shortstops aren't usually moved going into their final season, but this one may make the most sense from a team perspective.

    Left Field: Braxton Lee (Pearl River Community College)

    There was some worry Lee would get scooped up in the MLB Draft, but he's headed to Oxford and should be a quality replacement for Tanner Mathis in left field. He hit .406 as a sophomore at PRCC with a .502 on-base percentage. He also stole 37 bases and gives another speed option in the lineup. The Rebels were successful stealing bases just 55 percent of the time, and that's far from acceptable in today's college game.

    Center Field: Auston Bousfield .253/.344/.344

    Bousfield is the best defensive outfielder I've covered day-to-day, so his spot is safe, but the Rebels are hoping he shakes off a brutal year at the plate in 2013. He hit .281 as a freshman but regressed as a sophomore instead of taking the jump most expected. He struck out 11 more times during his second season, and the numbers were also bogged down by a 1-for-32 stretch entering regional play. The tools are there, and I expect him to make that increase this time. The Rebels need Bousfield easily hitting over .300 to get what they need to offensively.

    Right Field: JB Woodman (Edgewater High School, Orlando, Fla.)

    The star of Ole Miss' signing class, the Rebels plucked Woodman out of Florida over the Gators and dodged the MLB Draft due to Woodman having a sizable signing bonus requirement. Offensively he should have line-drive power to all fields from the left side, and he runs a 6.6-second 60-yard dash at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, so it's another speedy player in the lineup. Perfect Game clocked Woodman with a 91 MPH throw from the outfield in June 2012, so his arm will definitely play in right field. With a few adjustments offensively, Woodman profiles as a star the college level.

    Weekend Starter: Sam Smith 3.41 ERA/.286 BAA/33-19 K-BB

    I'm not differentiating Friday, Saturday or Sunday because I have no idea. Being close to accurate on the names is guessing enough. We'll start with the easy one, as Smith was incredibly reliable as the Sunday guy in 2013, posting a 3.41 ERA in 68 innings. He always gave the Rebels a chance and could move toward the front of the rotation if he can add enough to get into the lineup a third time through. The fifth inning was somewhat of a wall during his sophomore season. No matter what, you know what you're getting, and it's plenty good enough to give him a spot in the rotation.

    Weekend Starter: Christian Trent (Delgado Community College)

    Trent signed with LSU out of high school but heads to Oxford out of the Louisiana junior college system. The left-hander averaged more than a strikeout per inning and threw four complete games in 10 starts. Opponents hit .241 off him, and he has three years of eligibility remaining.

    Weekend Starter: Jacob Waguespack 3.46/.196/6-5

    Waguespack struggled with elbow tendonitis for much of the season but showed flashes of his projectable ceiling during limited action late in the year. He pitched just 13 innings, but the .196 batting average against is notable, and he should be able to lengthen his outings with a full offseason to get ready and fully recover. I still expect his fastball work work around 90 before he's finished, and there's ability with his secondary pitches. If you're looking for someone to make a major jump, I'd go with Waguespack.

    Closer: Chris Ellis 5.57/.348/16-11

    This is the definite wild card. Ellis has all the physical tools to the Friday night starter and a good one at that, but he struggled in 2013 because of the early abdominal injury and never regained the ability he displayed last summer and fall. I expect closer to the upside, and he'll be one of the top guys to watch as the season nears. This spot wouldn't surprise though because of his velocity in short work and good secondary pitch. He was just never comfortable this past year.

    Quick Hits: Obviously if Bobby Wahl comes back I expect him to be the Friday night starter. Shocker, huh? My gut says he signs with the A's, but it's much more likely he comes back now than it was two weeks ago.

    I didn't put a DH in because it could be any number of players. Ole Miss should have more playable depth next season since this projection doesn't include Sikes Orvis, John Gatlin, Christian Helsel, Cameron Dishon, Holt Perdzock or Will Jamison. That provides a bench that was much needed this past year. Freshmen Corey Baptist and Colby Bortles are also possibilities for at-bats, and Carlos Williams will certainly run in late-game situations. Preston Tarkington, Evan Anderson and Cheyne Bickel are the incoming pitchers I considered for roles. Also, the coaching staff may try to extend Aaron Greenwood into a starter.

  • OXFORD, Miss. -- The Kansas City Royals selected Cody Reed with the No. 46 overall pick on Thursday night.

    The Northwest Community College product signed with Ole Miss, but he's expected to sign with the Royals and bypass any further college baseball. The 46th pick carries a $1.19 slot value, though the Royals could exceed that amount with Reed because of some other draft picks signing for less than slot value.

    "At first I thought it might be Texas or Tampa, they had picks 21, 23, 29, 30," Reed said. "My advisor said I had a really, really good shot at going there but it didn't happen. It's not like I was discouraged at all or anything. Then they called my name at 46 and it was awesome."

    Reed is one of the top success stories in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, as the left-hander has increased his velocity from high 80s to mid 90s since graduating from Horn Lake High School. He's also added weight to his 6-foot-5 frame.

    He struck out 96 batters in 73.1 innings this past season and opponents hit .201 off him.

    Reed worked out for the Royals this past Sunday. The deadline for players to sign is July 12.

    Here's video of Reed reacting to the announcement:

    Reed Selected by Royals

    The draft continues Friday with rounds 3-10 and Saturday with rounds 11-40. In a surprise Ole Miss right-hander Bobby Wahl wasn't drafted on Thursday.

  • OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss freshman right-hander Brady Bramlett will need surgery to repair a torn labrum, head coach Mike Bianco told RebelGrove.com on Tuesday.

    Bramlett was shut down last week due to discomfort, and Ole Miss recently got the MRI results revealing the tear in his throwing shoulder. The recovery is typically eight to 12 months, and surgery will happen soon, though an exact date hasn't been set.

    "It's a long thing, more like Tommy John from a time standpoint," Bianco said. "You want to get the surgery done and start the recovery, but it could cost him next season, as well."

    Bramlett is 5-1 on the year with a 3.00 ERA in eight appearances with four starts. He's struck out 11 and walked eight in 24 innings. Opponents have hit .198 off him.

    Ole Miss senior right-hander Tanner Bailey had a similar injury in 2010 at Texarkana Community College and redshirted the 2011 season at Ole Miss to complete rehab.

    Bramlett was the No. 202 player nationally, according to Perfect Game, in the 2012 class.

  • Ole Miss scored 11 runs on 11 hits Tuesday night and rolled Arkansas State 11-1 in Jonesboro to sweep the season series and pick up its 20th non-SEC win of the season.

    That number is normally seen as the benchmark for a successful nonconference season and has now been accomplished in seven of Mike Bianco's 13 seasons as head coach. Ironically, however, out of the three previous six teams to hit 20 wins, three hosted regionals and three didn't. The 2006 (17 SEC wins) and 2007 (16 SEC wins) teams each hosted with 19 wins.

    Here's a rundown of the regular season nonconference wins during Bianco's tenure.

    2012: 20-6
    2011: 17-8
    2010: 20-6
    2009: 20-5
    2008: 19-7
    2007: 19-7
    2006: 19-7
    2005: 22-4
    2004: 21-5
    2003: 16-10
    2002: 23-3
    2001: 19-6-1

    The Rebels still have a shot to match the 2005 team's total, as No. 18 Ole Miss (30-12) hosts St. Louis on May 1 and travels to USM on May 14. Despite the impressive slate, it's been somewhat of a disappointing mark due to other teams' failures and losses in recent rivalry games.

    Ole Miss dropped games to MSU and USM at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., and dropped the season series to Memphis, one game in Oxford and one at AutoZone Park.

    The Rebels noteworthy non-league series is a sweep against TCU, which began the season in the top 15 but is only 19-21 overall and 7-8 in the Big XII. The Horned Frogs have won five of their last six, including series wins over Baylor and Oklahoma State. A strong TCU finish would help Ole Miss' RPI which is already in the top 20.

    Ole Miss also swept nonconference series from Rhode Island (22-17, 9-3), Florida International (22-17, 10-8) and Lipscomb (14-28, 4-11).

    COMATOSE CATS?: While you were sleeping, Kentucky was losing an 18-inning game at Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers hit a solo home run in the 18th to beat the Wildcats 3-2.

    It was 1-1 after regulation, and each team scored a run in the 13th to keep playing. The game lasted 5 hours, 57 minutes. Kentucky was getting on the bus at 2 a.m., give or take 42 hours before facing Bobby Wahl and his 0.82 SEC ERA on ESPNU. The Wildcats have to be kicking themselves, as the Hilltoppers' 13th-inning run was unearned.

    Kentucky threw closer Trevor Gott 70 pitches on Tuesday, so that will be something to watch if the game is close on Thursday.

    Here's the box score if you're interested.

    Kentucky enters the three-game series in Oxford having lost seven in a row - two to Tennessee, one to Louisville, three to South Carolina and one to Western Kentucky.

  • OXFORD, Miss. -- Chris Ellis may resume his Sunday spot in the rotation this week, though it would be a predetermined shorter-than-normal appearance.

    The sophomore right-hander missed his most recent scheduled start due to an abdominal strain that has lingered for several weeks now. Ellis first injured the muscle two weeks prior to the season opener but started against TCU and went four innings while allowing two hits and one run.

    During the latter part of that outing, he aggravated the abdominal and exited after 74 pitches. After wearing a support brace and resting last week, Ellis threw a flat ground session on Wednesday and is scheduled for a bullpen on Thursday.

    Should that go well, the Birmingham, Ala., native will start the No. 8 Rebels’ (8-1) series finale against Florida International in Miami.

    “He’ll probably only throw a couple innings to just work him back into it,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “It’s not necessarily pitch count, though that’s part of it. It’s so we don’t push him and go too far with the pulled ab.”

    Sam Smith started in Ellis’ place against Rhode Island and took a no-decision, allowing five hits and three walks in 3.1 innings.

    While Ellis is on the mend, Ole Miss is dealing with arm issues with two other pitchers.

    Freshman Jacob Waguespack has been dealing with elbow tendonitis since January, and Ole Miss is shutting him down for two weeks before testing the ailment. Since that’s complete rest, even if the pain has stopped, it’ll take more time to have him ready for game participation.

    Waguespack, who the Pirates took in the 37th round last summer, was rated the No. 426 prospect nationally out of Dutchtown (La.) High School by Perfect Game.

    Sophomore right-hander Hawtin Buchanan is dealing with shoulder soreness and inflammation, according to Bianco, and won’t travel to FIU.

    Buchanan has one appearance this season. He allowed two runs in an inning against UT-Martin on Feb. 20. He allowed two hits and two walks and had two strikeouts. As a freshman, the 6-foot-7 right-hander had a 3.98 ERA in 20.1 innings.

    GATLIN GETTING BETTER: Senior captain John Gatlin continues to work his way back from a shoulder separation before the season.

    Gatlin was the likely starter at second base but suffered a severe separation while diving during the first intrasquad of the semester. He fielded ground balls last week and swung a bat 100 percent for the first time this week.

    “Gatlin has done well,” Bianco said. “He swung 100 percent, and he’s had some good days and bad days with how it’s felt. He’s starting to field balls, and I don’t think he’s that far away from possibly getting on the field.”

    Gatlin hit .255 in 28 games last season but had a .397 on-base percentage.

    Lance Wilson has started four games at second base, including all three opening weekend, and has made three errors in 14 chances. He has two hits in nine at-bats. Preston Overbey is errorless in four starts at second base and is 7-for-25 with two doubles offensively. Jake Overbey started at second base Wednesday and was 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

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