Mr. Do-It-All

Anthony Alford played one year of football, his true freshman season, at Southern Mississippi near his hometown of Petal. Then he transferred to Ole Miss for the spring semester of 2013. Last season he had to sit out due to the transfer rule.

At Ole Miss, the 6-foot-1, 212-pounder is mainly in the defensive backfield, a safety who at this time is backing up Trae Elston.

But at USM he started five games at quarterback of the nine he played in for the Golden Eagles. So far this camp at Ole Miss, he’s taken a few snaps as an athletic, mobile player who can fill a role there.

“I think I can help as far as my athletic ability,” said Alford, in a role at quarterback like the now-graduated Barry Brunetti was recently. “With my quarterback background, I know what’s going on on that side of the ball. By playing both sides of the ball it helps me out a lot by playing quarterback.”

He mainly just enjoys being in position to play football again, no matter where on the field.

“I wouldn’t say I miss quarterback,” said Alford, who led the USM team with 664 passing yards, completing 57-of-127 passes with two touchdowns.

“I like the pressure, but I miss having the ball in my hand every play more than anything.”

Alford also rushed for 329 yards and six touchdowns for the Golden Eagles. He ran for a season-high 84 yards in the season opener against Nebraska and had a season-best two rushing touchdowns against Central Florida. He threw for a season-high 165 yards vs. UCF and a season-best two TDs against Memphis.

Even with his abilities there, his role as an Ole Miss quarterback will likely be limited to situational work. There’s the veteran Bo Wallace ahead of everybody, and guys like DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan who have been in the program for a year.

The athletic and talented Alford played minor league baseball with the Blue Jays organization this summer. When it was over, they wanted him to stay and play.

“My last day there the GM came down to talk to me,” Alford said. “He put some deals on the table that kind of made it difficult for me. But like I’ve said from day one, football is my first love. Even if I make $100 million in baseball down the road, I would still regret not giving football a shot.”

So Alford will see most of his work on the defensive side of the ball, currently as Elston’s backup with a shot at significant playing time. Then there’s not only the quarterback situation he finds himself in, he’s also returning punts on special teams, right now apparently behind Carlos Davis in that department.

He said playing other sports, like baseball, can help in doing all the things he finds himself being a part of on the football field.

“As far as like judging the ball, I’m pretty good judging the ball,” he said, talking about punt returns. “So that’s not an issue. It’s just actually catching it and knowing how to catch it. That was the part that was hard to adjust to. But I think I’ve got it down now.”

Alford said that while he didn’t go through the summer strength and conditioning program at Ole Miss, playing baseball helped him stay in good shape.

“We conditioned in baseball every day,” he said. “It wasn’t just like three days a week or four days a week conditioning. It was seven days a week. It wasn’t as intense (as football), but we still did it.”

Alford said it’s good to be back playing, and he believes this defense can be special.

“It’s a lot different,” he said of this August than last year this time when he knew he was not going to get in the games. “It gives me something to look forward to. It makes me work harder. I’m actually motivated more now than last year, instead of just going through the motions.

“I feel real confident (in the Rebel defense). Like Coach said, this is probably our first year having a true two deep in the secondary – husky, rover, free safety and the corner position. I’m real confident knowing if one person goes down we can bounce back and put someone else out there.”

So has he decided if his future after college is baseball or football?

"Not really,” Alford said, who was married two weeks ago. “I feel I haven’t truly given football a shot. I don’t truly know what I can do with football. I probably won’t (make that decision) until later.”

For now, it’s all about helping the Ole Miss Rebels of 2014 – on defense, offense, and special teams.

“I love him in a lot of ways,” said Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze. “He took some snaps (at QB on Monday), and I thought he looked explosive. He looked good in punt returns this morning. Defensively he’s getting better and better. I’m just glad we have him.”

OM Spirit Top Stories