Welcoming Visit

C.J. Beathard, the Battle Ground Academy quarterback who committed to Ole Miss in May to Houston Nutt and staff, got a chance to meet new Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze Tuesday night.

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"He came over and we talked for a while. It went really well," said Bethard of Freeze's visit to his middle Tennessee home. "I didn't know what to expect. I'd heard what he was like. But when all was said and done, I really like Coach Freeze and like what he's about."

Beathard, who finished the 2011 season with more than 2,400 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and only three interceptions, had heard from Freeze after Nutt was fired, actually recruiting him for Arkansas State.

"A little bit," Beathard said of hearing from Freeze. "I think it was after Coach Nutt announced he was getting fired or leaving, then Arkansas State called me up a couple of times, just trying to get me to come down there for a visit and stuff."

But now it's Ole Miss that's calling. And Beathard said he's on board. At least almost.

"I'm pretty positive that's where I want to go," he said. "I might take another visit somewhere else. But right now I'm probably 95 percent sure."

Beathard drew strong interest from several major college football programs, including Duke, Tulane, SMU, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, in addition to the Rebels. Now comes a bit of a surprise as to who might be the other five percent Beathard is considering.

"Mississippi State is the main one," he said.

He plans an official visit to Ole Miss Jan. 20 and will likely visit MSU either Jan. 13 or Jan. 27. Then he will make a final decision.

C.J. Beathard
File Photo

"I'll know a week before signing day. I'll know exactly where I'm going to go," he said.

Right now, as it has been for months, Ole Miss is way out front. Freeze's visit was a major moment for Beathard in keeping things that way.

"Just his values," Beathard said. "He wants respect (for the program). The way he values family and stuff. He really knows what he's talking about. He's just a good recruiter all around."

Beathard said Freeze was specific as far as some of the aspects of the program he wants to bring together.

"My parents were in there too (for the visit), and I talked to them afterwards," the 6-foot-2 and a half, 175-pound Beathard said. "They like the vibe around him and what he's about. He wants to be respected, and not how it was last time with guys getting in trouble. He wants that to stop. He wants everyone in the same boat doing the right things on the weekends. Get them all going and get them all on the same page and win some games."

While Freeze, who was joined on the visit by new offensive line coach Matt Luke, made a strong impression on Beathard, he was already sold on Ole Miss as a destination for his college years.

"I love it," he said of Oxford and Ole Miss. "There's nothing like it."

Beathard mentioned appreciating Freeze's honesty, and that also included the talks they had about how things will be done on offense.

"He told me straight up he runs a spread offense," Beathard said. "The only thing he was worried about is I didn't really run the ball much this year in high school. But I'm not saying I can't. I can run real good. They (high school coaches) just didn't want to get me hurt this year in high school. So I didn't run it much, and that's the only thing he hadn't seen me do.

"I know in their (Freeze's) offense, he said they ask their quarterbacks to run, probably 10 times a game," Beathard continued. "He just wants to make sure I'll be able to do that. He said he wasn't questioning my throwing mechanics or anything like that. He said he really loved that. He just wanted to make sure I'd be able to run the ball, and I can definitely run the ball."

Beathard appreciated the up close and personal visit from the Rebels' new head coach.

"Definitely. We talked about a bunch of stuff," he said. "I had a lot of questions. My parents had a lot of questions. Finally getting to see him in person and talk to him face to face, and to have him come here like that was really reassuring and just felt real nice to finally get these questions answered and know what was expected. I love how honest he is. He's just real honest with me. He wants me to be honest with him. He's one of the most honest coaches I've talked to, and I really like that."

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