Patiently Waiting

When Anthony Alford transferred to Ole Miss from Southern Mississippi, he had high hopes he would be given a hardship waiver for immediate eligibility. He was denied, forcing him to take a redshirt this season. He has learned to accept his situation.

After one season at quarterback for Southern Mississippi, Anthony Alford decided he needed a change of scenery and chose Ole as his next destination.

He came to Ole Miss in January and went through spring training, learning the safety positions.

Due to some extenuating circumstances surrounding his departure from USM and transfer to Oxford, he had applied for a transfer waiver, meaning he would have immediate eligibility to play during the 2013 season if his request was granted.

"I waited all summer for a decision. I thought I had a good case," said Alford, who also signed a pro baseball contract with Toronto out of high school after being the 112th pick in the MLB draft and spent ten weeks this past summer playing professionally.

His request was denied in June, but he appealed. His appeal was denied just before August camp began.

His immediate fate was set - redshirt year.

"The first couple of games, I was down about it, but I know everything will work in the end," said Alford, who is quick with a smile and one of the more personable players on the team. "I wanted to play this year, but there are positives too. I can learn more about safety and the defensive system and I get an extra year of college."

When true freshmen come on board, they know a redshirt year is a distinct possibility. Transfers also know it is required unless there is a major reason that the transfer was a necessity, but with a transfer it's a little different feeling.

Anthony Alford
Chuck Rounsaville

Most have already tasted playing on the collegiate level. In Alford's case, he started five games at QB as a true freshman for the Golden Eagles, throwing for 664 yards and rushing for 329 more.

"The fact that I have played on the Division I level made me more anxious to get to play this year, but once I got here and started working at safety, I realized I was behind," he stated. "I still wanted to play, but as I said, I will be a better player next year because of my redshirt this year."

Alford wowed the coaching staff in spring. Not from a technical standpoint, necessarily, but from an athletic and aggression standpoint.

"He likes contact. Boy does he like it," DC and Safety Coach Dave Wommack said. "Anthony is so athletic. He and Tony (Conner) and Derrick Jones very well could be our most athletic guys on defense.

"Anthony is one of the strongest players on the team, pound-for-pound. He lifts with the linebackers and defensive line, not with the secondary. He's that strong. He can run, he's smart. He's got it all."

Wommack think Alford could play "just about any position" on the field.

"When we are facing a dual-threat quarterback that week, we put Anthony at quarterback on our scout team and he gives us a very realistic look. He could play wideout, running back, safety, linebacker, you name it," Wommack stated.

Alford is pleased with the progress he has made at safety thus far.

"I go to all the safety meetings each week to make sure I am up to speed and I work hard in practice. I feel I'm pretty caught up to where I need to be right now," he explained.

Alford came up as a quarterback in high school but he doesn't consider himself a "true" QB.

"I was put there because I was the best athlete on my high school team and I was able to throw the ball," he shrugged. "Going from QB to safety was not a hard transition. From playing quarterback, I knew some things safeties do, tips and things. That gave me a head start."

During his summer baseball stint, which is contractual, Alford did well, well enough that the organization urged him to stay for the whole season.

"I don't think they expected me to do so well," said Alford, who plays centerfield. "I'll go back next summer and do it again. It wasn't that hard for me because I have been going back and forth between football and baseball since I was little.

"My dream is to have a future in football, but I am not eliminating a future in baseball. That would be fun too."

Moving forward, what does Alford want to accomplish this year?

"I want to learn the system inside and out. I want to know all the DB positions by the time spring training rolls around," he closed. "If I can get that accomplished, I will just let my athleticism take over from there."

In the meantime, Anthony Alford is playing the waiting game.

But it's a role he accepts and is making the most of.

OM Spirit Top Stories