Time is Now

Sophomore wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo was short of breath as he approached the podium inside the team meeting room of the Manning Center Tuesday afternoon.

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Ole Miss had long wrapped its fifth practice of fall camp, but Adeboyejo hung back to get some extra work in. Following the departures of veterans Done Moncrief and Ja-Mes Logan, the time is now for Adeboyejo to step up.

And he knows it.

“I expect Quincy to have a breakout year,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “He gives us a threat there that can do things with the ball in his hand that are different there with what we’ve had. He’s quick-twitched and can run. He has to continue to improve his ball-catching. He still has too many that are not natural catches for him that he should make.”

The 6-foot-3, 189-pound Adeboyejo, working primarily on the outside, played in every game last season with two starts. However, his contributions were minimal. He finished the year with seven catches for 81 yards.

Moncrief declared for the NFL Draft shortly after the season, prompting Freeze and Co. to move sophomore Laquon Treadwell, a freshman All-American last season, from the slot to replace him. Adeboyejo was then moved to the position vacated by Treadwell, a transition he said hasn’t been all that difficult.

“I’d say it’s going pretty good,” he said. “I had a whole spring going through it. I’m getting accustomed to it. It’s kind of second nature now.

“Going outside to inside, I kind of know both of them. When I’m in there learning, I don’t just look at the slot. I try to look at all the routes just in case I do have to move outside. I’ll still know what I have to do.”

Ole Miss wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo.

Freeze, Treadwell and quarterback Bo Wallace have all raved of the potential of Adeboyejo. Treadwell, while decorated in his accomplishments and regarded by most one of the top wide receivers in the country, isn’t considered a burner.

The potential matchup problems with Adeboyejo, however, are limitless because of his combination of size and top-end speed.

“He’s one of our best at getting in and out of breaks or any kind of double-moves,” Freeze said. “He’s a strider, too, and if he gets into open field he’s a guy that’s tough to corral.”

His ability to open up the middle of the field and take the top off of coverage could play well with Wallace, whose arm strength is being billed as significantly stronger.

Wallace visited renowned throwing specialist Tom House in California in the summer in an effort to continue to improve his arm strength. House has worked with such quarterbacks as Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Carson Palmer.

“His arm’s a lot stronger,” Adeboyejo said. “Some balls we probably used to wait a little long. Now it’s really just getting there, zipping in there. We’ve got to get used to that, too. As we throw around with him a lot, it’s getting easier and easier getting used to his ball zipping in a little faster than it usually did.”

Just as his role is changing in the offense, so is his role in the locker room. Though only a sophomore, Adeboyejo is a veteran of his position group.

“If (Adeboyejo) gets into open field, he’s a guy that’s tough to corral.”

Outside of seniors Vince Sanders and Collins Moore, the wide receivers are relatively short on experienced veterans. And Moore is currently on the shelf for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

The Rebels have added three freshmen (Markell Pack, Dayall Harris and Sammie Epps) to the fold, as well as sophomore transfer Damore’ea Stringfellow, who played in 12 of 13 games for Washington as a freshman last season.

“They’re really good. They’re going to be really good,” Adeboyejo said of the newcomers. “Markell is pretty fast. A lot of people say he’s kind of like me; we both got dreads, so a lot of people say we look alike, run alike. I think Markell’s going to be really good.

“And Dayall, in the meeting room, he’s asking coach question after question. He’s really trying to learn it, and that’s a good thing coming in as a freshman trying to learn it off the bat.”

Stringfellow was suspended indefinitely in February following an incident with Washington quarterback Cyler Miles. He filed transfer papers with Ole Miss in June after a tightly-tested recruiting battle that also included Nebraska.

“Stringfellow, he’s got really great hands,” Adeboyejo said. “That’s what I notice about him. He’s good hands, natural hands. He runs pretty good routes, so I think he’s got a good upside, too.”

Ole Miss wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow.

Epps, a former four-star prospect, opened fall practices at tight end. He was moved to the slot behind Adeboyejo earlier this week.

“He’s really trying to learn it,” Adeboyejo said of Epps. “He’s staying after it and trying to get it. He’s actually coming along, and I think he’ll be pretty good. He’s a big, strong guy. He can cause a lot of mismatches.”

Adeboyejo can cause plenty of mismatches of his own, but the impetus is on him to produce. That’s what all the extra work after practice is for.

Because his time has come.

“Quincy is one of the hardest-working guys on offense. He wants to be great,” Ole Miss quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner said. “He has so much talent anyway, and he’s constantly working to improve his craft. That all equates to success. I expect him to burst on the scene this year.”

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