Brunetti? Mackey? Stoudt?

After a non-stop offseason and a week at the Manning Passing Academy, transfer QB Barry Brunetti is ready to "get it on" in an effort to win the Ole Miss quarterback job in fall camp. Read about it inside.

Barry Brunetti, the Rebel sophomore quarterback candidate who transferred to Ole Miss from West Virginia in January, just returned from the Manning Passing Academy, where he was an instructor at the camp along with "25 or so" other college quarterbacks from throughout the country.

He soaked up everything he could from Eli, Peyton and Archie Manning during his visit.

"It was a great learning experience. Being around the Mannings, and seeing how they prepare for a season and for a game, was beneficial," said Brunetti. "They coach themselves a lot in the offseason and they are sort of like the CEOs of their team. I got a lot of knowledge out of those three days.

"Some of the things I knew and got reenforced, other things were new. It was interesting to see how they watch film and study and learn what they do when the coaches are not around to prepare themselves."

Those three days must have been like being at Disney World for an aspiring quarterback, but he quickly returned to the grind of the Rebel offseason this week.

The days leading up to fall camp are flying by and what awaits him - and Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt - is an extreme competition to win the QB job for 2011.

"I've been working hard. I've been spending a lot of time in the film room and with the playbook. I spend all my free time trying to learn our offense and the passing attack," said Brunetti, who was declared eligible by the NCAA for the 2011 season in late spring after applying for a hardship transfer waiver. "Physically, I've tried to get stronger and faster. I have gained a few pounds - I'm now 216 - and I have shaved some time off my 40 yard dash. I'm in the 4.5s now.

"Also, I'm throwing four or five times a week trying to get better with my passing. After I was declared eligible, I started grinding ten times harder. Knowing you are able to play and not have to sit is a motivation. I want to be the guy coming out of August camp. It makes me work harder and put in extra work."

In spring training, Mackey started off as the clear number one and looked like he might run away from Brunetti and Stoudt, but as spring wore on, the race for number one tightened up as the others got more and more comfortable with OC David Lee's offense.

"Right now, I think we are all even. Randall took over early in spring, but Zack and I gained some ground late and I think we are entering fall camp on even footing," Barry assessed his situation. "The first week of fall camp is going to tell the tale, I believe.

"Coach Lee will be looking for who the team rallies around, who the team trusts, who can be a leader. We all have good skills, but who will the team rally around? That's what the summer is for. Who will put in the work in the summer to be ready? We are all grinding, I know that."

When Barry evaluated his spring performance, his passing accuracy was the area he was not pleased with and the area he has been working on since.

Barry Brunetti
Bruce Newman
"I have to hit what I aim at," he smiled. "That's what I am used to doing, but I had one of the worst springs of my life throwing the ball accurately. That won't happen again and is why I am throwing so much this summer. Most of it was mental and some of it was mechanical. I was trying to learn on the run and play full speed. I was thinking too much and I have to stop that by knowing what to do. I want to get to where I'm just going out there and playing without being bogged down mentally. I think I am real close now, but these next couple of weeks will be a grind. I will have my face in the playbook and I will be ready."

Barry said he senses the team is anxious about who the quarterback will be, but he says he's not.

"They want to know who the quarterback will be. They are being asked all the time and don't have an answer. I sense they want to know," he noted. "I am not as anxious. I'm ready to compete. This is what I came here for."

Brunetti admits this is the stiffest competition he has ever faced.

"When I was a sophomore in high school, Blair Wright, a Rebel baseball player, was tough. It wasn't as tough as this competition though, especially with Mackey who has the same skill set I have," Brunetti explained.

No matter who wins, he said he, Mackey and Stoudt will remain friends.

"Randall and I live three doors down from each other and are real close. We are friends on and off the field and will stay that way. No matter who wins or loses, I hope they have the same mindset I do. If I lose the battle, I am going to keep going and compete every week because if the starter is not getting it done, Coach Lee will put the next guy in and then it will be their job to lose," Brunetti said.

Lee has been clear with what he wants from a QB to Brunetti and the others.

"He wants a guy who is in the playbook and knows everything when fall camp comes around. No mistakes, hit what you are aiming at - lead the offense," he added.

Brunetti likes the "look" of the team this summer.

"From talking to some of the veterans, like Brandon Bolden, everyone is participating more than ever in pass scale and extra summer work on our own," Barry noted. "Everyone wants it this year. The 4-8 doesn't leave a good taste."

Brunetti is glad to be at Ole Miss, but he said his time at West Virginia was beneficial as well.

"I learned how to work there. I watched how the defensive guys - five of who got drafted - worked and how it paid off. I learned what it's like on this level," said Brunetti. "Their leadership was so good on defense that it helped both sides."

As a newcomer to Ole Miss, Brunetti knows he has to earn his teammates' respect in order to be able to lead.

"Leading comes a little naturally to me but being the new guy is hard. The guys won't believe in you until you show them what you can do on the field," he closed. "You have to earn the right to lead. If you don't earn it, they can easily brush you off."

Brunetti does not plan to be "brushed off" in fall camp.

His intention is clear: to be the starting quarterback for the Ole Miss Rebels in 2011.

Time to buckle the chinstrap.

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