Representing

HOOVER, Ala. - Ole Miss may have had the sharpest dressed trio of players at SEC Media Days. It was certainly good for a first impression here for Charles Sawyer, Mike Marry, and Donte Moncrief, and some reporters blogged it and tweeted it.


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But this was all about first impressions for other reasons. First-year Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze took to the podium in the massive ballroom at the Wynfrey Hotel. And he first went about the task of winning over the media.

"Thank you so much for showing up for me on the last day," he said.

Last sessions at SEC Media Days are notoriously less attended. That Alabama's Nick Saban was in the first group of the day helped that. Tennessee's Derek Dooley was also in session one but without much fanfare. Freeze was in the last group, along with Georgia's Mark Richt.

"Everywhere I've been, I'm always thankful for the relationship I have with media, from the high school level, NAIA Division I, the relationship you develop with the guys that cover our sport," Freeze went on to say. "I think I understand the concern you have, the desire you have to be the best at what you do, and I value that relationship. So thank you for being here."

Win the day? That was moment one for Freeze as he attempted, successfully so, to win the media.

Freeze continued for several minutes addressing the media questions. Then came the opportunity for the three players to have their say.

Sawyer was asked what Freeze meant when he said 60 percent of the players, in his assessment, had bought in and they hoped to get to 80 percent before long.

"What he meant by that is he's the new coach," Sawyer said. "He told you 60 percent, and I believe that's just going to skyrocket. His main thing is protect the team, and everybody sees that. They did that this summer. He says win the day, win the day, win the day, and I honestly believe we do that."

Marry a junior linebacker, mentioned it's all about the team but a team is made up of individual people.


Mike Marry
Associated Press

"Everybody moves at their own pace," he said. "Some players bought into it (earlier) because they connected with Coach Freeze as soon as he got here. Some players are still stuck in the middle."

For those not quite there yet, Marry had a simple resolution as to what it will take.

"Time," he said. "We'll go into camp, and I think everybody else will buy into it."

Marry said, however, he's all in.

"Great dude," he said of Freeze. "Lot of energy I like most of all that he demands us to take care of the little things day in and day out. Don't let anything slide. I think that's how you'll be great."

Sawyer, a junior defensive back, said he feels totally different about the way things are now and how he feels about the team himself.

""I feel like we have good people around us," he said. "It brought us to a low point and back to ‘hey, we're starting over.' So that's good."

The Ole Miss players didn't get caught up in much of the Mississippi State rivalry talk. You'd think it was Thanksgiving week. Those questions were mostly asked by beat writers who cover the Bulldogs. It's also a message that's been heard from MSU administrators, coaches, fans, and players for a while now.

Sawyer said all games, especially rivalries, are important.

"It's a different game. There's more emotion to it," he said. "But you've got to take it one game at a time. When you get to that point (in the season), then that's when that point comes."

Sophomore receiver Moncrief said there have been some challenges having so many quarterbacks to work with, especially last season.

"It was kind of hard as a freshman," he said. "But with two out there now, we're getting used to it."

Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti are in a two-man race for the signal-caller position, according to Freeze.

"Hopefully a leader for the Rebels comes on," Moncrief said.

Sawyer was asked if all the talk, even from Freeze, about the Rebels being in the wilderness means the players might not think they can win many games.

"What he means by that is we went through some hard times," Sawyer said. "You have to strive out all the negatives. Strive out that people don't believe in you. We actually feel like we have a team. We feel like everybody is coming together. We feel like everybody has got one goal and one only, and that's to win games."

Moncrief admitted it was difficult in his first year to go through so many losses.

"As a true freshman, going through last year was a great experience but also it was a hard thing," he said.

This year's schedule doesn't bode well for winning a lot of games, realistically. Moncrief said he sees that as a positive, however.

"It's exciting because it gives you an opportunity to make big plays," he said. "I'm looking forward to making big plays against those teams."

Marry said he's ready to win. That, most of all, will change things at Ole Miss.

"When you're winning, everybody's for you," he said. "But when you're losing, all you hear is people talking about you and talking about how bad you're doing. Stuff like that. It's kind of discouraging if you don't have a strong mind."


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