Plenty to Process

Bo Wallace wasn't with the first team Friday afternoon, the first practice for Ole Miss this spring.

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No surprise, really. He's the new guy. Instead, he worked with the second team, behind junior Barry Brunetti, who took the first-team reps.

However, by the end of spring practices, the transfer from East Mississippi Community College hopes to be there. Wallace is eyeing the starting job, and he is in direct competition with Brunetti and fellow returning veterans Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt.

"It's huge," Wallace said of spring drills. "I want to come in and establish myself, and show guys I can make plays. And then, be a leader on and off the field and win the job.

"Obviously, I think (Ole Miss head coach Hugh) Freeze probably isn't going to name a starter in the spring, but it gives you momentum into the summer. It'll probably establish your reps and how many reps you're going to get. It's huge to come out here every practice and have a good one."

Wallace, who is wearing No. 14 this spring, played one season under Freeze at Arkansas State. He was redshirted, and ultimately transferred to EMCC, where he threw for 4,476 yards and 53 touchdowns in leading the team to a 12-0 record and national title last season.

Bo Wallace
Chuck Rounsaville

He signed with Ole Miss in December, choosing the Rebels over in-state rival Mississippi State, Baylor and Nebraska. Texas, Texas Tech and Indiana also showed interest in signing him.

"I love Oxford," Wallace said. "I've been coming to games down here since I was probably a freshman. It pretty much was my dream school, and I'm lucky to get to play here now."

"He smooth. He's a smooth dude," cornerback Charles Sawyer said. "He's new to it, he's new to here. But he's doing good. I'm glad he's here. He's doing good."

Most assume Wallace to be the front-runner to start under center this fall, chiefly due to his familiarity with Freeze's up-tempo offensive system, as well the rather pedestrian field he is competing against. Each of Brunetti, Mackey and Stoudt started at least two games for Ole Miss a year ago.

Wallace acknowledged his knowledge of the system is an advantage in the race to start, but said the burden is ultimately on him to earn the job.

"I think it's important for me to help people as much as I can that don't know the offense yet," he said. "It's a huge advantage. I'd lie if I said it wasn't. It was part of the reason I came here, is I already knew the offense. It gave me an advantage."

Per NCAA rules, players are left to work out on their own in the off-season. Wallace said he and a number of receivers used the time to work on timing, routes and plays.

"I like Bo," sophomore wide receiver Donte Moncrief said. "He can look one way and go the other. I'm just ready to see him in action."

"I think that's huge. The first couple of practices, that's when they're going to see that you can play," Wallace said of building chemistry with receivers. "We've thrown a little bit on our own inside. They've kind of seen that I can throw the ball around a little bit. It's taking leadership out here and trying to go at the pace Coach Freeze likes and showing those guys you can play."

Donte Moncrief
Chuck Rounsaville

Moncrief looking to lead in year two:

Moncrief has never been one for words. He's a quiet type.

But as arguably Ole Miss' top offensive threat, Moncrief is being asked to take on a leadership role, both on and off the field.

"I'd like for everybody to be on the same page, everybody be good at receiver and the receivers know what they're doing, know the job," Moncrief said, when asked of his goals for the spring. "Defense, get to the ball and hit."

Ole Miss finished 2-10 a year ago. Moncrief was one of the lone bright spots. He led the team in receiving, amassing 454 yards and a team-high four touchdowns. His 31 catches were an Ole Miss freshman record.

Enter Freeze and his fast-paced, never-stop offense.

"It went pretty good, knowing this is our first time in the system and everybody's kind of rusty and coming back with a new beginning," Moncrief said of the first practice. "It's just something that we've got to build on and get better with.

"Basically, just conditioning, being in shape and being able to run full speed. If you can't do that, it'll be hard to play this offense."

Moncrief also spoke of the difference under Freeze from Houston Nutt, who was fired after four seasons as Ole Miss head coach.

"They're pretty good. It's just something you've got to get used to, new coaches," he said. "Stronger family. (There's) like a better chemistry between us now. We're getting closer; everybody's getting to know each other even better since we've been here. I think it's going to be a pretty good year this year."

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