Clock is Ticking

These are the slow days. The days when the minutes tick away ever so slowly during class. The days when freshman wide receiver Donte Moncrief can't keep his mind from wandering.

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His Ole Miss debut is but a few days away. But those days seem like weeks, Monday being the worst. Time crawls. The Rebels don't open their season against BYU until Saturday at 3:45 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally by ESPN.

"Class is going by slow, ‘cause you're so ready for (the game)," Moncrief said. "The 50 minutes we're in class feels like two hours. But you have to sit in there and listen to the teachers, ‘cause you got to get them hours in to play football."

Moncrief can't get ahead of himself. He has toiled away for years just to get to this moment, his first opportunity to run out of the tunnel inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium donning an Ole Miss jersey.

He was officially announced as a starter Monday, when the school released its official depth chart. Not a surprise, really. Moncrief has been aligned with the first-team offense for the better part of two weeks.

Still, the reality of the situation, the sense of accomplishment, is something he can't deny.

"It feels good, honestly, ‘cause that's something I've been wanting to do since I was a young child," Moncrief said. "I always told my dad, if I ever got the chance I would live up to it. That's something that I did, and I'm proud of it. All I can do is go out, play hard and give my team some energy."

Donte Moncrief
Chuck Rounsaville

Moncrief is listed as the starter at split end. He is the only true freshman starter offensively. Barry Brunetti, named Ole Miss' starting quarterback last week, is a newcomer as well, but is a sophomore transfer from West Virginia.

"Basically I just keep it to myself, keep it under my skin and just come out and play," Moncrief said of his excitement, how ready he is to play his first game. "When I get out on the field, that's when I release all of it and just let it out. I make the big play, I just stay to myself. I don't want to get a flag, get my team in trouble.

"But it's pretty hard, ‘cause this is like my dream since I was small. Now that I got, it's very shocking and very exciting to know that I'm about to do this."

Moncrief caught nine touchdowns as a senior at Raleigh High School in Raleigh, Miss. He earned prep All-America honors, and was rated a four-star prospect by

He was one of a handful of highly-rated receivers to sign with Ole Miss in February, joined by Nick Brassell and Tobias Singleton, among others. But Moncrief has been arguably the most consistent of those signees throughout August practices.

"When I first came in, I wasn't used to the speed," Moncrief said. "Went through the two-a-days which was the longest I practiced in my life. After that, everything's been good. Since practice has gone along, I've learned a lot and gotten used to the speed, got smarter with my routes. I'm ready to play football.

"The first few days of practice, I was just … I had never played with nobody that could just outrun me or was faster than me. I had to get used to that, had to get used to how fast everybody was, the coverages and how fast people move. And since I got used to it, I got a lot better."

Moncrief admitted he and fellow freshmen Brassell and Singleton and Collins Moore, etc., are a close group. They talk. You know, of what it will feel like to officially be a college football player Saturday when they take the field, the atmosphere, how they will respond when their names are called.

The most recent conversation came Saturday. Moncrief, Brassell and Singleton were picturing game day. The tunnel. The goosebumps. Everything.

"Actually, day before yesterday me and Nick and Tobias were talking. We was talkin' about how we were going to walk out of the tunnel, and what we were going to do," he said. "Are we going to walk together? How's the first play going to feel like once we get in? I was telling them, man, don't worry about it. Don't think about it. You know, just play football. Don't be nervous, get used to it and let's play."

But the nerves are going to be there. Moncrief can admit as much. He just has to get there.

If only the days would pass by a little faster.

"Well, as a football player, the first play you're always going to have goosebumps. But after that, after you get a little pop, and just get a little physicality, everything goes away and you can just play football," he said.

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