Different Shade of Red

Lance Wilson already knows what he's going to buy a bunch of his family members for Christmas. And it's still July.

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"Everybody in my family's been asking me for Ole Miss stuff for Christmas," said the junior shortstop for the Rebels, who transferred from Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. "I hope I don't ruin their surprise. But they've been asking me for it."

Rest assured they didn't have any before Lance signed with Ole Miss. Talk about a big Alabama Crimson Tide family. That's the Wilsons.

Lance's first cousins are former Crimson Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson and former Tide baseball player Ross Wilson. Another cousin, John David Smelser, played baseball at Alabama.

The whole family basically bleeds crimson. Lance understands, but his runs red and blue.

"I'm definitely an Ole Miss baseball player now," he said. "My ties in Tuscaloosa, I'm from there and my family's there, and I support my family. But I'm an Ole Miss Rebel now."

Wilson went to junior college because it was his best option at the time, he felt.

"I went to Shelton out of high school. I really didn't get a lot of Division I looks," he said. "So I went the juco route so I could kind of keep the dream alive and maybe one day I could get to an SEC school."

After Shelton State, he did indeed have some options, and some in the SEC.

"I heard from Auburn and Mississippi State," Wilson said. "Arkansas offered me. I was going to visit there the week after I came here. But I went on and committed (to Ole Miss) before I even went (to Arkansas)."

It was the Rebels who impressed him the most.

"I would say Ole Miss recruited me the hardest," he said. "They were always straight-forward. There were a couple of other schools that beat around the bush a little bit and would kind of tell you things you just want to hear and not really the truth. Ole Miss told me they wanted me. They offered me quick."

Wilson is a shortstop but will play where needed. There's competition at that particular position. Junior Austin Anderson returns. So does sophomore Jake Overbey.

"I'm a middle infielder," he said. "But if Coach wants me to play outfield, and I've never played outfield, but I'm just that kind of guy. Whatever gives our team the best chance to win. As a junior college guy, you don't have a lot of time to work your way up. You've got to try to earn a spot. Whatever it takes to get in the lineup, that's what I'm going to do."

Wilson batted .330 as a sophomore at SSCC, with six doubles and 30 RBI, along with 32 stolen bases in 34 attempts. He said he likes to run - get on base, steal second, make something happen in the game.

"I guess I would say I'm a speed guy," he said. "Whether that's offensively, defensively, I try to incorporate my speed in everything I do. I'm not really a power hitter. I just try to get on base. Being a middle infielder, you're supposed to be athletic. I really focus a lot on defense, too."

Shelton State finished third in the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. Wilson was disappointed his team came so close to winning it but didn't. But then it was time to head to Oxford to continue his career, this time fulfilling his dream of playing Division I baseball. He's been getting ready already.

"The coaches asked the junior college players – me and my roommates Austin Blunt and Stuart Turner - to come to the second (summer) term. They said they really didn't care if we played summer ball, but they really wanted us to come to campus. That way we could start working out with the strength and conditioning coach. That's really been a focal point for me. I need to put on about 10 pounds, 15 pounds, by the spring. And I'm working on my speed. So hopefully I'm getting bigger, stronger, faster. And I'm taking six hours to get ahead in school and stay on track to graduate by my senior year."

Goals? Just one, said Lance.

"My goal is to get to Omaha," he said. "I just want this team to win."

He believes that can happen, and it's one of the reasons he's here.

"I feel really comfortable here. Definitely it was the best option for me. It was really a no-doubter. As soon as they offered me, I was going to Ole Miss."

And about that Ole Miss wear. There are some in his family who have stepped up and gotten some Ole Miss gear.

"My dad's already got him a nice Ole Miss polo he's been wearing a little bit. My brother's got an Ole Miss baseball shirt," Lance said. "We're definitely starting to get the gear."

And at Christmas, more is coming.

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