Preparing for Next

ATLANTA, Ga. - If Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has it his way, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl won't be his final football game.


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Wallace said Sunday his training for a potential professional career will begin in earnest following the game, a nationally-televised Dec. 31 tilt against No. 6 TCU. He’ll move to Los Angeles a week later to train with former major league pitcher and throwing specialist Tom House.

Wallace previously worked with House last off-season to gain strength in his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder.

“There's a plan to either stay in L.A. the whole time, or to do some of my training in L.A. and some combine work in Tampa,” Wallace said. “We have a plan in place. I'm going to start with House because he's a guy who's worked for me. I don't want to go somewhere to a guy who contradicts what he's doing.

“Just to better my mechanics. At the start of the year, I felt like mechanically I was really good. But as the season wears on it's just natural to lose some on your mechanics. So I'll go back out there with him. He's a guy that I trust, having seen the improvement he made with me.”

House is known for his work with pitchers and quarterbacks, with his focus on improving mechanics to prevent further injury.

The idea to visit House last summer came from Ole Miss co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner, who learned of House through HBO's “Real Sports.” Werner said a number of drills Wallace learned under House paid dividends this season, especially as it relates to keeping Wallace on the field for all 12 regular season games.

“It's enabled him to go through the whole season,” Werner said. “Last season he came back early and he wasn't bad, but he wasn't full strength. (The shoulder) kept getting worse. All the drills he gave him helped keep him on the field, and our strength coaches have done an unbelievable job keeping him at a high level the whole season.”

With one game left, Wallace has completed 219 of 358 passes for 3,085 yards, 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He's also rushed for 213 yards and five touchdowns, and he'll leave Ole Miss with the school record for total offensive yards. Wallace heads into the Peach Bowl with 10,427 total yards, besting the previous record held by Eli Manning, who amassed 10,090 yards in his Ole Miss career.

“The throwing mechanics we haven't messed with much,” Werner said. “He hasn't changed a whole lot. The big thing I've worked on is the feet. If you want to throw quicker, you have to get your feet ready. You can't throw off-balance. If you do, bad things are going to happen. We work with his feet every day. We have a lot of different passes with play-action or what have you to where you might have to fake a different run and get your feet set a different way, and it has to happen as quickly as possible in timing the route.”

Most NFL Draft-centric websites currently project Wallace as a sixth round selection to undrafted. CBSSports.com, for example, lists the 6-foot-4, 217-pound Wallace as the No. 11 quarterback and its No. 228 overall player. Oregon's Marcus Mariota is rated No. 1 ahead of Jameis Winston of Florida State and Brett Hundley of UCLA.

Wallace isn't all that worried about draft projections and the difficult path he faces to improve his stock over the coming months. He's been doubted before.

“I've always been confident in myself and had the dream to do this,” Wallace said. “I feel like it's going to be just like it was in high school and junior college, people telling me I can't play at this level and that level. It's going to be just like when people were telling me I couldn't play in the SEC. It's going to be up to me to go prove that. People saying I can't play in the NFL, it's up to me to go prove them wrong.

“When I get backed into a corner, I'm going to fight my way out of it. When people tell me something can't be done, I definitely take it to heart. It puts a chip on my shoulder.”

Right now, though, his focus is on the Peach Bowl. Ole Miss capped a 9-3 regular season with a 31-17 win over in-state rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl Thanksgiving weekend. The Rebels are looking to carry that momentum into the Georgia Dome and on into 2015.

“I've thought about trying to win this game, trying to get another win to elevate this program so they can start in the top-5 next year and have a chance to do something really special,” Wallace said.

A week from now, Wallace will have time to reflect - on his 24 or 25 wins as a starter, three bowl trips and place in SEC history for passing yards, where he sits in the top-10.

Ole Miss has been good to Bo Wallace. Actually, the experience exceeded his expectations.

“No doubt it did,” he said. “Coming here off a 2-10 year, I came here because it was my chance to play right away. I didn't want to sit another year. Honestly, even if I wouldn't have gotten an offer here, I felt like (Ole Miss head coach Hugh) Freeze was going to turn this thing around. When he was named the head coach, I knew Ole Miss was in good hands.

“I'm just thankful he gave me an opportunity to come here.”


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