Junior Lionel Breaux isn't your typical collegiate wide receiver.
Most are boisterous, rarely lacking confidence for one of the more high profile positions on any football roster. But Breaux doesn't care for the limelight.
In fact, while his role is sure to expand, his focus is only in the best interest of his team.
"I just go out there and compete," Breaux said. "I'm not really looking forward to being ‘the man,' but being basically the top player I can be. I'll do anything to help the team."
Considering who Breaux is replacing in departed senior Mike Wallace, a silent-type is quite the change.
Admittedly so, Wallace loved the attention. He exuded self-assurance and always craved the big play. It's certainly understandable, as Wallace possessed rare sub-4.3 speed, allowing him to outrun almost any coverage standing in his way.
Breaux, who has great speed of his own, has heard the comparisons before. But unlike many others, the junior sees them as useless.
"Everybody's been talking about who's faster, me or Mike (Wallace)," he said. "It really doesn't matter to me."
While Breaux doesn't hold equal straight-line speed, WR coach Ron Dickerson believes the junior is stronger in other areas than Wallace.
"There aren't too many people in the country you can compare to Mike Wallace," he said. "They do play the same position, but the thing Breaux does a little better than Mike is he comes in and out of breaks really good. He has great body control. What he doesn't have is that 4.2 speed. The thing he can do is play the ball really, really well. He's patient in his running his routes.
"In my room, it's really unique, because I ask guys to watch what the others are doing and try to copy it. I think everybody tried to copy Mike's speed, but you can't. The Lord gives you that. But Mike knew that some of his weaknesses were coming in and out of breaks and making catches, where that's really strong for Lionel. I think that's where they compare, but also differ."
Last season, Breaux made a name for himself as a valuable member of the Rebel special teams and also in a reserve role at wide receiver.
Starting five of 13 games, the junior totaled 178 yards on 12 catches, but also returned two kicks for 44 yards. Perhaps his biggest play, however, was in a fake punt against Florida.
With the game scoreless and Ole Miss facing 4th-and-1 in its second possession in the first quarter, Breaux scampered 15 yards for a critical first down. The Rebels would later score on the drive, jumping ahead early in a thrilling 31-30 victory in Gainesville.
"Coach (James) Shibest gave me an opportunity to contribute and make a big play for the team," Breaux said of his contributions on special teams a year ago. "I just took my role and was happy. I was proud of myself and proud of the special teams."
Dickerson said it's Breaux's unselfishness that makes him such a valued member of the Rebel roster.
"Lionel wears a lot of hats," said Dickerson. "He's a great player on special teams and a great team player. He's known that he's had to develop and has worked really hard. Lionel's one of those guys who, if you tell him to do something, he goes out there and does it. He tries to perfect it. That's where he is right now.
"He's the mad hatter. That's what he is. You wish you had 105 of those guys, who you can tell to cover kicks, but I need you to block the corner. Or I need you to run a go route. He looks at you and says ‘Yes Sir' and goes out and does it. No cry, no nothing. I think his capacity is going to be the same this season."
Now having waited his turn, the New Orleans, La. native is being given more opportunities as an everyday receiver this spring.
According to Breaux, he needs "to improve his route-running," but Dickerson is undoubting in the junior's abilities.
"Lionel's perfecting his game. He'll be a big factor in our offense," he said. "He's kinda that Steve Largent type. I really hope some of my younger guys, when they come in, take after what he does. Because he's really a leader in the things he does as an Ole Miss Rebel."
Tip Of A Hat
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