Almost Football Time

Football, tennis, and baseball as the 4th of July weekend moves on.

Usually this time of year we're waiting for football season. We are again, but this time with a top ten twist.

Few times over the last 40 years have Ole Miss fans celebrated a 4th of July with as much hope as this one. Talk all weekend at the lake, in the Grove, on the beach, in the backyard will be about the Rebels and the projections.

Those who know me or have read me through the years know I say football season begins July 5, when the celebrating of the rite of summer of is over. With the extended weekend this time around, make that the 6th.

But really football season no longer starts and ends. It's all year long with recruiting and spring football and the preseason prognostications. And the unmatched interest. We've seen that this year.

Ticket sales continue to climb with projections of at least 45,000 season packs being sold before the first home game Sept. 19 when Southeastern Louisiana comes to town. It will be the Lions football team's second straight fall to visit Oxford.

But first for a game. Last year they practiced at Ole Miss when tropical weather forced them north in September.

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The July 4th weekend always means Wimbledon is on TV. While I casually watch and listen, I did hear and see the highlights of Devin Britton's singles and doubles Friday. There was even a mention of Ole Miss on the NBC broadcast when Devin was still playing the Junior Friday.

This time of year we try to keep up with what's going on individually with Rebels and former Rebels. Like Devin across the pond and Eli on Ben's excellent story he wrote Friday with the great Rebel turned Giant. (What's the report I've heard lately of the Giants making him the highest paid player in the NFL? Glad he's an Oxford resident now and a Rebel.)

Devin could be headed that way. But the road is tough. Andy Roddick, just a few years ago the next great American tennis player, has struggled to win Grand Slam events and his chance to get only his second individual one comes Sunday at Wimbledon.

As far back as January when he arrived, I wrote some had predicted Devin as having Andy Roddick potential. Certainly it appears that and the years ahead will reveal if the Mississippian and Ole Miss Rebel will be able to achieve that or surpass it.

I'd hoped Devin would give us one more year. As I tweeted this week, "Devin, we hardly knew ye." But Devin the professional will give us many more years as an Ole Miss Rebel. The pub Ole Miss and the tennis program here will get here because of his future success has just begun.

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Baseball recruiting is in full swing as July 1 is the first day coaches can contact rising seniors again. Phones were ringing in kids' homes coast to coast Wednesday morning and since.

One home in Bradenton, Fla., that has had its share of those is the residence (and cell phone) of Casey Mulholland, a super talented right-handed pitcher/outfielder whose list of potential schools is a mile long, extending the state of Florida, up the east coast and into the SEC. One of those calls actually came from me.

Mulholland told me and other reporters who called early last week he wanted to have his list of schools down to five by July 1. I felt good by what he said that Ole Miss was one of the five. Still do. But make a list of baseball schools in the South and you'll see what the kid has to work through.

That's probably the reason when I talked to him later in the week he said he was going to take at least a couple more weeks to sift through it all, maybe even three weeks.

Mulholland visited Ole Miss for the back two games of the Georgia series, and he saw the Rebels and their program and fans at their best.

So we wait on Mulholland's decision as to his top five. Maybe the Rebels will be one of those and ultimately the top choice when it's all said and done. A lot of schools appear to be thinking that same way.


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