And starting in 2010, the Hamblins will again become involved in one of the SEC's premier matchups. However, this time, it will be watched while dressed in Rebel red and blue.
Junior college catcher Miles Hamblin, younger brother of Danny, committed to Ole Miss recently and will be an incoming junior next season. The plus-hitting Hamblin visited Oxford within the past month and chose the Rebels over TCU and Nebraska.
"All those schools were good, but Ole Miss was at a different level," Hamblin said. "It is how college baseball is supposed to be played. I wanted to go somewhere that I knew we would win."
Hamblin, who hits from the left side, expects to be an immediate contributor, with his best shot at entering the lineup coming because of his offense. As a freshman at Howard College, the 6-3, 200-pounder hit .412 with 11 home runs, 17 doubles and 56 RBI. The season was good enough to receive an invitation to the Texas Junior College All-Star game.
"It was a great opportunity to compete against a lot of good players," Hamblin said. "It showed me how I measure up, and I left the event with some confidence.
"I'm seeing the ball really well, and I think I can play right away at Ole Miss. That is important since I am a transfer."
Having Danny as a resource was a major help to Miles. The older Hamblin spent his college career in the SEC, so many of the positives and negatives came first-hand. Danny parlayed his time in Fayetteville into a 10th round selection of the Oakland Athletics in the 2007 First Year Player Draft.
"My brother was a huge resource to bounce things off of and also to tell me things I hadn't even thought about yet," Miles said. "He and my dad had both been to Oxford for games when Arkansas played them, and the crowd is very involved. Tough place for visitors."
Miles has yet to take in a baseball game, but he checked out the campus with player host Evan Button.
"The players were really nice and welcoming," he said. "Evan is a super guy and someone that was easy to connect with. Everything about Oxford made the decision easier."
Hamblin was a pitcher/third baseman before converting to catcher less than two years ago. The mix of good glove work and a live arm made the move a simple one. Hamblin's throws have a lot of pop, but they are too straight to make a living off the mound.
"Straight gets you nowhere when pitching, but it works well behind the plate though," Hamblin said.
And with Brett Basham and Kyle Henson exhausting their eligibility before he arrives, there is an opportunity to step right in.
Hamblin and highly-touted freshman Taylor Hightower are the early favorites in 2010.
"Competition is everywhere, but I wouldn't want to go somewhere that it is handed to you," Hamblin said. "Competing makes the team better, and I am ready to face that challenge."
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