Stringfellow Accepts Challenge

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze challenged wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow during spring practices in April.

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He wanted more out the Rebel sophomore, who sat out all of last season due to NCAA rules after transferring from Washington, where he played in 12 of 13 games in 2013. Stringfellow struggled with consistency, and Freeze called him on it, going so far as to mention him by name when addressing the media.

“When I do that, it’s because the expectation should be more ‘cause you’re gifted,” Freeze said. “What kind of father or coach would I be to not challenge you on issues or on things that would keep you from being your best?

“It’s not in a demeaning way ever, it’s I want you to achieve everything that you can. I think there’s more, and here’s why I think you’re not there. I want to help you get there.”

Stringfellow has taken Freeze’s message to heart, if August practices are any indication.

No. 2 wide receiver Vince Sanders is gone, meaning Stringfellow, who collected 20 catches for 259 yards and a touchdown in his only season at Washington, is currently competing to start opposite preseason All-American Laquon Treadwell.

Ole Miss wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow

He has his work cut out for him. Also vying for the job are veterans Quincy Adeboyejo, Cody Core, Derrick Jones and Markell Pack, as well as decorated newcomers DaMarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson. There are only so many catches to go around.

“Spring was OK. I felt like I could have done a lot better. Fall camp, I’m ready for it. My hair’s on fire,” Stringfellow said. “I’ve been waiting for it for so long. I want to be the best I can be in blocking and catching and route-running. Everything that I do on the field, I want to be the best. If that’s consistency, I’m working on it.”

“I think he’s a big, strong, very difficult matchup in one-on-one,” Freeze said. “Very similar to Laquon in that if you want to get him in a one-on-one, the throw does not have to be perfect; he doesn’t have to be wide open. He’s just so big and physical that he can still make the catch.”

Freeze said Stringfellow made “four or five” such catches Monday, using all of his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame to take advantage of opposing cornerbacks. His size is what could give him a leg up in the weeks leading up to the Rebels’ season-opening game against UT-Martin Sept. 5.

“I always feel like I have something to prove,” he said. “Even if I do get a starting position, I’m still going to feel like I have something to prove, just because I’m never satisfied with my game. I always feel like there’s room for improvement.”

Stringfellow transferred to Ole Miss last June. “It sucked not being able to play and practice,” he said, “but I knew what I needed to get done and I knew my chapter was coming.”

His contributions a year ago consisted mostly of celebrating with his teammates on the sideline each game-day Saturday and getting an up-close scouting report of the talent he’s readying to face in the SEC in 2015.

Now there are no restrictions, nothing holding him back. His chapter starts now. Time to write.

“For his size, he has a lot of speed,” Adeboyejo said. “Some people, they don’t really see his speed, but it’s there. He can get over the top, and he’s a big guy. He blocks really well on the outside, he makes some big plays. He’s been consistent all camp.”

Ole Miss can only hope for more of the same.

“Ole Miss fits me perfectly. I love the guys I’m surrounded by, I love the coaches, I love the environment,” Stringfellow said. “If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I actually wish I would have come here straight out of high school just to be able to get around these guys a little bit earlier and to be able to play with these guys.

“This is going to be my year, my shot. I’m not going to let it get away. That’s my mindset. I feel like once my mind is set, there’s nothing that can stop me.”

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