Brunetti Cleared

Sophomore quarterback Barry Brunetti has been cleared to play immediately by the NCAA, Brunetti announced via his Twitter account Monday morning.

The announcement was later confirmed by an Ole Miss spokesperson.

"I am #blessed to say that the NCAA has cleared me to play this year…God is Good…thankyul. #Hottytoddy," Brunetti said in the tweet.

Brunetti, in a conference call with reporters this afternoon, said he learned of the news in an email from Ole Miss Director of Compliance David Wells.

Monday's ruling ended weeks of uncertainty, which Brunetti admitted has been weighing on his mind. He thought a lot about it on Easter Sunday, when his mother, Elna, advised him to remain positive.

"I was expecting a decision to be made at the end of May," he said. "We got it today. I was kind of shocked. I'm thankful and blessed that it came."

Barry Brunetti
Bruce Newman
Brunetti, a Memphis native, decided to transfer to Ole Miss from West Virginia in mid-January, the former U.S. Army All-American citing a desire to be closer to his mother. Elna has been dealing with complications from a car wreck in 2002.

Brunetti said doctors have encouraged his mother to undergo surgery, but that such surgery could have lingering effects. Elna's condition was the central basis for his appeal.

"She still hasn't had it yet, because she's still kind of shaking up by thinking about getting paralyzed," Brunetti said. "That's kind of what she told me. She's still thinking about it, the doctor's are trying to get her to do the surgery.

"It can still get worse, it can better. She's still kind of worried about getting that surgery."

NCAA transfer rules stipulate a year-in-residence requirement for players who transfer from one Division-I institution to another. Brunetti, however, will be able to suit up without penalty following the approval of his family hardship waiver.

"It gives me much more urgency. It gives more better odds for (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks) Coach (David) Lee and (head) Coach (Houston) Nutt. Now they can know that it's three legit scholarship quarterbacks instead of two," Brunetti said of the successful waiver.

"Now we can all get even reps. It's much more even now. Now I can go out free-minded and give my best effort, and hopefully come up with it."

Brunetti went through spring practices this month, initially competing with juniors Randall Mackey, Nathan Stanley and Zack Stoudt. However, only Brunetti and Mackey appeared in the annual Grove Bowl game. Stanley left the program and Stoudt sat out due to an academic-related violation of team rules.

Brunetti completed 12 of 21 passes for 211 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the game. He led the Blue offense to 333 total yards, in what Lee called Brunetti's "best day as an Ole Miss Rebel."

Brunetti said his performance in the Grove Bowl gave him confidence heading into the off-season and August practices.

"Yes, it does, especially finishing strong in the spring game, kind of leading into the summer with some confidence," he said. "But I just got to keep working. Fall camps will really tell it. That'll really tell who can be the starter, and who can jump out and be the leader of the team. Coach Lee should name a starter by then."

Brunetti will enter the fall with as good a shot as any to win the starting job under center, which was vacated by the departure of Jeremiah Masoli, a transfer from Oregon, who was initially denied but cleared to play through a similar appeals process prior to the 2010-11 season.

Barry Brunetti
Bruce Newman
Mackey seemed to be distancing himself in the now three-man race during the spring, but Lee said all three quarterbacks -- Mackey, Brunetti, Stoudt -- are even, since no player "jumped up and said ‘I'm the guy.'"

"Barry got better in the scrimmage," Lee said. "He's a good, strong, tough runner who made a couple of really nice passes. Accuracy is holding him back."

Brunetti was rated a three-star prospect out of high school by He led Memphis University School to back-to-back state championships over his junior and senior seasons, when he combined for over 4,700 yards and 72 touchdowns.

The 6-foot, 213-pound Brunetti appeared in four games for West Virginia last season. He completed 4 of 9 passes for six yards, and rushed once for four yards.

"I felt like I started off slow, trying to learn a new offense. Kind of fell down the chart a little bit," Brunetti said. "As the spring went on, I kind of stepped it up a little bit more. I started to get more comfortable around the offense, started to learn more, studied a lot daily after practice. Going into the spring game, I felt like I stepped up a little bit. But, I mean, that was kind of three weeks of learning for me.

"I've got the whole summer to learn more. Going into fall, it should be no excuses, just be full speed and my best effort."

OM Spirit Top Stories