Return of the Mack

Senior Randall Mackey could see the writing on the wall.

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Through two weeks of spring practices, Mackey was unable to gain ground on quarterbacks Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace. He ran mostly with the third string, with a handful of plays sprinkled in with the first and second teams.

On Tuesday, he was moved to wide receiver. Mackey said he hasn't played the position since Pee-Wee football. But he was open to the move.

"It was fun. It was my first time playing it, so I just wanted to make the best of it and go out there and just have fun," Mackey said. "I knew it was going to come sooner or later. It wasn't no big deal. I'll do anything to help the team out."

Mackey started six games for Ole Miss last season at quarterback. However, he was suspended twice, for the team's season-opener against BYU, and then for the final three games of the year.

He threw for 1,112 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. He was the team's third-leading rusher with 180 yards and one touchdown.

"We're just trying to make sure we use him somehow," Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. "I've been very open and honest about the fact that we have some issues here that we're having to battle against. You saw that today with a lot of people not on the practice field because they're over in the academic center. And we've had some sicknesses, too.

Randall Mackey
Chuck Rounsaville

"Randall, he and I are very open and honest about the issues that we're facing. Provided he can get them straightened out, we're going to find a place to use him. We want to experiment a little bit with him the last couple of weeks."

With the move, the quarterback race is now down to Brunetti and Wallace. Brunetti started two games last season, passing for 144 yards on 35 attempts. Wallace is a junior college transfer from East Mississippi Community College.

Freeze said Mackey isn't completely done at quarterback. The coaching staff plans to use him in a limited package, though they'll move him around to utilize his athleticism.

"It's been kind of tough. It's a whole new system," Mackey said of the quarterback race. "There's a lot of thinking to do, a lot of reads and all that. A little package for me is good enough, then playing a little receiver, a little running back. That'd be good enough for me."

"He's athletic. We're trying to get some of our better athletes on the field, all of them at the same time," wide receiver coach Grant Heard said. "He's raw. He's never done it before. But he knows it from the quarterback position. As far as the technique of being a wideout, he has a ways to go. But he's athletic. I think he'll be fine."

Mackey didn't participate much when the team broke into team drills towards the end of practice Tuesday. He observed from the sidelines. He has work to do, especially on his route-running.

But he's a natural runner, which isn't lost on Freeze.

"We kind of think of him as both," a wide receiver and running back, Freeze said. "We might line him up at all three before it's over. I know we will. In air time, he caught it and he was smooth. He's swimming right now because he's just trying to learn how to line up. He looked like he could run around and catch footballs, and we've seen what he can do running with it in his hands. We'll figure out a good package for him if he gets everything straight and is with us come fall."

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