A mother's perspective

Wilma McCray saw her 6' 5", 285 pound son commit to the University of Mississippi last February, but this past weekend was the first time she had a chance to visit the Ole Miss campus. What was her first impression?

"Beautiful is the first word that comes to mind," added Wilma. "I had heard a lot of great things about their campus, but this was my first time to actually see it. I can honestly say that it exceeded my expectations. I have never seen a campus like Ole Miss". It is picturesque."

What was Mrs. McCray focusing on before she arrived on the visit with her son, Emmanuel McCray?

"I had never been to Oxford so I wanted to see what the college atmosphere was like. It looked like your ideal college town.. It is a very safe and friendly environment. I also wanted to get a feel for the coaches, and I was very impressed with how concerned they were about Emmanuel getting his education and degree. One of my concerns for Emmanuel is making the academic transition from high school to college, and they did a great job outlining what would be expected out of Emmanuel and how they will help him achieve his academic goals. We met with one of their guidance counselors and the head athletic tutor. It is just a huge adjustment coming out of high school, academically, so they really put my fears to rest. We also met with the lady that is the head of the academic affairs, and I was very/very impressed with their programs. They monitor their players day by day. They have a tutor for each class they take. They require them to be at study hall every day. Football is very hectic and you must maintain a certain GPA, so my main focus as a parent was on academics. And like I said, they put all of my fears to rest. It was a very resourceful trip for me."

What did the coaches say to Mrs. McCray when she arrived?

"Well, they were just glad to have me and Emmanuel up there together. They told me that their primary focus was to get him his degree. I think it was the recruiting coordinator that went over the academic issues with me. But he went into great detail about preparing Emmanuel to get eligible so he can meet the NCAA academic guidelines. That really impressed me that they are so focused on academics at Ole Miss. I did not get a chance to talk to Coach Nutt because he was speaking to the media after the game, but I was really impressed with how cordial their staff was and how youthful they are. That is important because they can relate to the kids. The campus is just so beautiful and it is historically a great school. There is not a negative thing that I can say about Ole Miss. There were only a couple of things that I needed to see, and after seeing them, I am very comfortable sending my kid to Ole Miss. I am going to leave the decision to Emmanuel because it is his decision, but I would be very comfortable with Ole Miss if he continues to want to go there."

Emmanuel and his mother also got a chance to speak with McCray's position coach and the Ole Miss assistant that is responsible for his recruitment.

"I talked to several of the coaches at the table, but I spoke to Coach (Derrick) Nix a lot. He told me that he really liked Emmanuel because not only of his athletic ability but his character. That really stuck out to me that they liked his character. That is important to me. And then Coach Markuson came over there and spoke to me and Emmanuel. We had a great conversation."

Does Wilma feel better about her son's commitment to Ole Miss now that she has seen the campus and met the coaches?

"Yes, I do not have any weird feelings about the university at all. It is a bit of a drive, but it is a great place."

McCray has now been offered by USM, MSU, and Ole Miss. Mrs. McCray has had a chance to visit all three campuses.

"We went to USM's Jr Day in the Spring and went over to MSU this summer. All of their academics are pretty much on the same path. Distance wise, USM is a little closer than Ole Miss and MSU but distance is not a major issue. USM is centrally located in Hattiesburg. I do not know if that is good or not, but all three are great schools. They all have a safe environment and have good academic plans for their student athletes."

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