Maturing Early

Entering his second season as an Ole Miss Rebel, WR Donte Moncrief has an upperclassman status on the team.

During the summer of 2011, when heralded freshman Wideout Donte Moncrief first came on the Ole Miss campus, he had an air about him that belied his age and freshman status.

Most freshmen come on campus big-eyed and a little lost, taking some time to get their feet on the ground.

Donte came on board focused, intense and not the least bit in awe of the situation he was thrust in coming from Raleigh, Miss.

In short, he was a big fish in a little pond at Raleigh, but he was determined to keep his big fish standing in the ocean known as the SEC.

It was not hard to detect his intentions. He was normally the first one on the practice field and the last one to leave.

He took honing his craft seriously. There wasn't much jiving around once he buckled his chinstrap.

Early on, he had the look and approach of a veteran.

At the end of the tumultuous 2011 season, where it was hard for anyone to excel, Moncrief emerged with an Ole Miss freshman receiving record with 31 catches for 454 yards and four touchdowns. Not gaudy numbers, for sure, but surrounded by the turmoil of an inadequate offense, Moncrief was one of the few bright spots.

Enter a new coaching staff and a new offense, but Moncrief stayed the same - nose to the grindstone.

"Man, he had a monster offseason," said Strength & Conditioning Coach Paul Jackson. "He elevated everything to another level, maybe two levels. Donte made a believer out of me in the summer."

Donte Moncrief
Chuck Rounsaville

Not only did Moncrief excel in the offseason program, he was chosen to be one of the player representatives at SEC Media Days, the only time in our feeble memory banks that a rising sophomore at Ole Miss has ever been paraded around that gauntlet of media members in Hoover, Ala.

To say he is more mature than the average sophomore would be like saying Michael Phelps is a good swimmer.

For his part, Moncrief is still kind of quiet, with an economy of words that let's you know football is a business he is passionate and serious about.

"I didn't want to stay like I was this summer. If you are not going forward, you are going backwards," said Donte. "I pushed myself hard in the offseason, Coach Jackson pushed me hard and it has paid off. I'm stronger, faster and I think I am also a better person.

"I may not have looked it last year, but there were times I wasn't comfortable out there. This year, I am more comfortable. I know I will be able to make more plays and be a bigger part of this offense."

Yes, the new offense. A gleam comes to Moncrief's eyes when he talks about it.

"In this offense, you better be ready to make a play on every snap because you never really know when the ball is coming to you, and we are going to have balls flying everywhere. What wideout wouldn't be excited to play in this offense?" he smiled. "The routes in this offense fit my skills too. I like what we try to do with the ball.

"Also, I love the tempo. I think the fans are going to love it because I think we are going to score a lot of points once we get it down pat. The opposing defense better be in shape."

Due to the way he carries himself on and off the field, Donte has evolved into one of the team leaders, a role he also takes seriously.

"I take pride in being a good role model for my teammates. I always try to do things the right way and it makes me feel good when that rubs off on my teammates," he said. "Being chosen to go to SEC Media Days woke me up as to how much this coaching staff depends on me to do the right things and lead. I don't want to let them or my team down.

"I take my role on this team seriously."

Donte Moncrief: Not your typical sophomore.

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