The Right Path
Golson hit .325 with three home runs, 23 RBI and 16 steals as an outfielder for Pascagoula (Miss.) High School in 2011. He was a raw but “toolsy” player, projectable to scouts not because of what he was at the time, but what he could become.
So, the Boston Red Sox used an eighth-round draft pick on him in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. He had plenty of time (months, actually) to think about what he wanted to do, whether he preferred hot August afternoons on the practice fields to a low-A, minor-league bus.
The Red Sox flew him in for a visit. It was a mid-August Monday. An 11 p.m. CT deadline was approaching. Golson had a multiyear contract well above slot position for an eighth round pick on the table – a final, take-it-or-leave-it offer well north of $1 million.
He opted for college, to play both baseball and football.
“It got close for me to sign,” he said Saturday following Ole Miss’ 56-15 win over Louisiana-Lafayette, the third win for the Rebels in as many games this season. “I was actually in the room, looking at the numbers on the paper. Man, they were some long numbers, a lot of zeroes behind it.”
If his play on Saturday is any indication, he made the right choice.
Golson finished with two tackles and two interceptions, one of which went for 59 yards and a touchdown. He almost had a third, too, just before halftime with Louisiana-Lafayette threatening to score a touchdown.
“I told him this week that he was going to get a pick-six,” defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said of Golson. “I was very happy for him to be able to get that. I saw him jump it, and I knew he was going to take it away from the guy. He’s pretty fast. Kind of got us rallied up. At times we were kind of flat.”
“This was what I was supposed to be doing,” Golson said. “Education was a big thing. I knew this was where I wanted to be. I made a commitment to Ole Miss. I love Ole Miss.”
All in all, Golson, at least through three games, has become the shutdown corner many expected when he signed with Ole Miss as a four-star prospect.
“He had a solid day,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “This is the first year he decided he was going to really buy in. It’s not that he was bad the last couple years. There’s no question the way he comes to work every day and allows me to coach him that he’s just a different guy. When someone does that and has success on the field, it’s very rewarding to see good things happen because a kid really decides to buy in.”
Golson appeared in 22 games with 15 starts in the outfield for the Ole Miss baseball team in 2012. He hit .204 on the year, adding 13 runs scored, five RBI and five stolen bases.
He seemingly gave up baseball as a sophomore. But he’s often spoke of a possible return, even going so far as to say Saturday he anticipates joining the team in the spring. “Me and (baseball coach Mike) Bianco are on good terms,” he said.
He might not make it that far. Baseball season coincides with training for the NFL Draft. A future in football is a real possibility now. CBSSports.com currently projects Golson as a fourth-to-fifth round pick.
If he keeps playing the way he has through three games, that projection is sure to change.
For the better.
“Everybody asks me if I regret (turning down the Red Sox),” he said. “I haven’t regretted it since the day I turned it down. I’m glad I’m here.”
The Ole Miss defense is glad, too.
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