Helping the Cause

Jim Broadway trotted out onto Hollingsworth Field Saturday night against Central Arkansas when the Rebels were punting for the first time. But where was Tyler Campbell?

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That was the question that reverberated throughout Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. After all, it's Campbell who could be up for All-American honors and is already on the Ray Guy Award Watch List as college football's best.

But there was Broadway doing the punting in the Rebels' 49-27 win. And doing quite a nice job of it, too.

The Roswell, Ga., native, who came to Ole Miss after punting at Miami (Ohio), punted three times, averaged 46.7 yards per punt, and had a long of 50 yards. Not bad at all for a guy who hadn't punted in a live college game since 2009.

"We had a coaching change, and I wasn't too happy with the environment," said Broadway of the Miami situation. "I was kind of out of my element out there. It ended up working out for me (to transfer to Ole Miss)."

But it took some time. The senior in his final college season to punt wasn't on the Rebel team until this past spring. However he kept in shape in the meantime.

"I would just go out there (to the intramural fields) and work on my own to make sure I still had it," he said, mentioning he lived near them, so it wasn't difficult to head there to get some punting in. "I always wanted to come back out and play."

There were some reasons he didn't before now. But that's all in the past.

"I transferred here after my redshirt freshman season at Miami (Ohio)," said Broadway, whose father, Jim Broadway, Sr., punted for Georgia during the Bulldogs' great run of three Southeastern Conference titles and a national championship in the early 1980s. "I spent a year or two catching up on my academics, and I had an injury that set me back a year. Finally I decided this year to come out and give it one last run."

And so he did just that. He talked to the new Rebel coaches and came back out to give it the old college try once more.

"I joined the team and spent one week here for spring camp, and I worked out with the team all summer and in fall camp," he said. "I just basically got into it at the end of spring camp."

But he'd done enough good things to allow the coaches to at least consider letting him punt this season and to potentially redshirt Campbell now for a fifth year in 2013. Then came last Saturday night and his debut, much to the surprise of many, and in a way to the surprise of Broadway.

Jim Broadway, Jr.
Chuck Rounsaville

"I found out like Wednesday of last week," he said of the possibility he might be called upon. "I wasn't really nervous actually. To be honest with you, all those punts, I really didn't hit them that great. I guess maybe it was adrenaline, and they carried a good ways. But I was just glad to be able to help the team in that situation."

The stats show he did well. Broadway said he was pleased – for a first effort, at least.

"I feel like I was decent stat-wise. Nobody is satisfied with what they have," Broadway said. "I want to continue to get better. I didn't feel like I hit any of those balls really clean. But the adrenaline came through, and I ended up getting decent kicks. Hopefully I can have an even better game this week."

This week it's UTEP. The Rebels can be 2-0 with a win and with the Texas Longhorns coming to Oxford the following Saturday. But the Miners are much better than the Bears they faced last week.

Broadway wants to do his part to continue to help Ole Miss win football games. He also hopes not to see the field too much. Why is that? Because he wants a potentially potent, fast-paced, up-tempo Rebel offense to score as many points as it can this season.

"I was shocked that we even punted three times, to be honest with you," he said of the season opener against UCA. "It was good to get those reps in. This week we're going against a team that they come after you. They're good on special teams."

So is Broadway, apparently. And if he keeps it up, Campbell can watch and wait until next season. And Broadway can help the Rebels' cause while making his dad proud.

"He's excited, really excited," said Jim Broadway, Jr, son of Jim, Sr., and Sherry. "Especially since we're playing at Georgia this year, he'll love that opportunity to come to that game and see all his buddies."

But that's down the road in November. For now, Broadway is hoping for more solid performances as the season moves on.

"I had enough reps in live games to be able to handle it," he said of the situation when called upon by the Rebel coaches last week. "Luckily I had the opportunity to step in when they needed me."

And to come through when they needed him as well.

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