Home Again

Seven former Ole Miss football players joined play-by-play announcer David Kellum on the Grove stage Saturday morning for "Life In The NFL," an awards ceremony and panel discussion on the National Football League.

Mike Wallace was all smiles Saturday.

Wallace was one of seven former players invited to join Ole Miss play-by-play announcer David Kellum on the Grove stage for "Life In The NFL," an awards ceremony and panel discussion on the National Football League.

An excited crowd of fans gathered around the stage, hanging on his every word. When it was over, he signed autograph after autograph, fans pleading with posters and footballs. He's a superstar in Oxford, long removed from his days at O.P. Walker High School in New Orleans, La.

"It means I'm getting a little old, right? It means I'm getting kind of old," he said.

Wallace has had to work harder than most for a professional career. He was rated a two-star recruit when he signed with Ole Miss in the recruiting class of 2005. Expectations were low. Well, expectations outside of those he had for himself.

Mike Wallace
Bruce Newman
Now he's a Pittsburgh Steeler, and a standout performer in Super Bowl XLV, when he caught nine passes for 89 yards and one touchdown in a 31-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

"It was crazy," Wallace said. "I can't really explain the feeling because it's something so special. You plan your whole life to play football and just to try to get to that situation. Just to be there, it was unreal. It feels like the Super Bowl. It was everything I ever dreamed of it being. All the fans, it felt good. A lot of big-time people there.

"You train your whole life for that and that moment. And to be able to go out and score a touchdown for my team and catch some passes, it felt really good, just came up short."

Wallace was back where it all began Saturday. He recorded 101 receptions, 1,910 yards and 15 touchdowns over his Ole Miss career, including back-to-back seasons of at least 38 catches and 716 yards in 2007 and 2008.

"It's a little different, but it's always good to be back at Ole Miss. Always."

Powe nervous as NFL Draft approaches:

Jerrell Powe isn't ashamed to admit it. Butterflies are setting in with the 2011 NFL Draft rapidly approaching next weekend.

The Kansas City Chiefs are showing the most interest in drafting the 24-year-old defensive tackle. They're calling every other day, according to Powe, who opted to forgo his final year of eligibility to realize his dream of playing professional football. The Miami Dolphins have kept in contact, as well.

"This is what I longed for from a little kid, this is always what I wanted," Powe said. "I'm getting a little nervous now that the time is here. But I'm happy. I'm seizing the moment, taking full advantage of it. I'm glad that I have the opportunity to play my life-long dream."

Powe is projected to go anywhere from the early second to the late third round. However, Powe is still thinking first round.

"I'm hearing a lot of things," he said. "I'm definitely remaining confident. I know what my talent's at. I put it in God's hand when I made the decision. I said I was walking out on faith, putting it in God's hand. I asked him to direct my path, lead me where he wants me to be.

"I definitely know my talent matches up with any of the other guys. As far as being a solid second-to-third, you never know how the draft is going to go. The picks are not even going to be the same next week. You never know, but I'm very confident. I'm just going to let God lead me and direct my path."

Wallace, Spurlock and Powe
Bruce Newman
Powe received a loud ovation when announced by Kellum on stage. He's now considered a former player, as strange as the concept may be.

"It's a little strange. I miss this place," Powe said. "It happened real soon. (Ole Miss head) Coach (Houston) Nutt always said one day you'll be here, then the next day it's gone. It happened real fast. That's the most kinda crazy thing I'm experiencing now, about how fast it went by.

"I remember just yesterday I came in and was fighting to get into school. It's already gone. It's a unique thing. But like I say, this is what I longed for."

Lewis finds perfect fit in Kansas City:

Kendrick Lewis has never been overly talkative. A workmanlike player, he has usually gone about his business quietly, somewhat reserved in interviews.

But he's a professional football player these days. Interviews are a routine part of his day-to-day life. Lewis was a fifth-round pick -- 136th overall -- by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010, three rounds after the Chiefs chose Dexter McCluster.

"It's real strange. Just a while ago I was here sitting, listening to guys come back and talk to us, sitting in chairs and giving us advice. And now I'm able to talk about the things that I've experienced. That's always cool," he said.

Lewis was a pleasant surprise for the Chiefs last season. Fifth-round picks are usually destined for special teams and/or niche roles in their rookie seasons. But Lewis started 10 games, thanks mostly to an injury to starter John McGraw.

Lewis finished with 29 total tackles, three interceptions and one forced fumble.

"It was just the mentality I went in with," Lewis said. "I didn't get drafted where I wanted to get drafted, where I thought I should get drafted. It was just my mindset. I went in with a chip on my shoulder. I refused to be denied. I knew my talent, I knew what my capabilities were. I just went out and worked hard. I was able to do some big things for the organization."

Lewis said he and McCluster -- members of the same recruiting class and teammates for four years at Ole Miss -- remain close. Actually, before he even took the stage Saturday morning, Lewis exchanged texts with McCluster, who is back home in Florida working out.

"Me and Dex, we always text, we're always calling each other," he said. "Me and Dexter got a real good friendship from here our freshman year. We were roommates in the dorm room together in our first year at Kansas City. Our friendship is great."

NFL lockout on minds of former Rebels:

As the NFL lockout nears its first full month with no end in sight, former Rebels find themselves facing a future filled with uncertainty.

Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, currently with the New England Patriots, said information regarding the standoff between the NFL owners and Players Association has been scarce. Players, he said, know as about as much as fans do.

"Hopefully we will be playing football," Green-Ellis said. "I don't know what's really going on. Hopefully they'll get things worked out, and hopefully mediation and everything gets better and we'll be able to have some football this year. I know all the fans want to have football. We want to play."

Wallace has stayed close with his team representative, quarterback Charlie Batch, for any bit of news.

"I think we'll play. That's a lot of money and a lot of people's jobs that's at stake. I don't think we're going to miss the season," Wallace said. "Hopefully not. They just have some things they have to get worked out first. Hopefully it'll get done in the next month or so."

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