Opportunity Knocked

ARLINGTON, Texas – Joshua Shene came to Ole Miss with a lot of hope. One of those hopes was to one day play against a team from his home state. Now in his last game as a Rebel, it's set to happen.

"I'm really excited," he said of the game against Oklahoma State on Jan. 2, 2010 in the 74th Cotton Bowl. "My best friend goes there right now. I've had several friends go there, and my parents have some friends who graduated from there. We've always talked about what if we get to play OSU in a bowl game, and since it's my last game in college, it's very fitting I get to play a team from my home state."

It isn't Oklahoma, as in the University of Oklahoma. Shene admits he leaned toward the crimson and cream growing up.

"Yeah, I usually liked OU," said the Oklahoma City native.

But now he has the chance to play the "other" team from his homestate. Once upon a time in a bowl game not that long ago, 10 years to be exact, another Ole Miss placekicker did make the game-winner against a team from the state of Oklahoma. The Rebels beat the Oklahoma Sooners 27-25 when Les Binkley nailed a 39-yard field goal in the Independence Bowl, the last college football game of the 20th century, as the new century began just minutes after his kick went through.

A decade later, Shene said beating another homestate team in the same manner would suit him just fine.

"I'd definitely love to do that," he said.

That he's in a position to do so is a story in itself. It was not until his final year of high school that Shene even positioned himself to do what he's done in college.

"It really was a dream come true," he said of being able to play at the Division I-A level. "I really didn't play football until my senior year of high school, and I didn't play until like the third or fourth game of the season. All I did was kick field goals and kickoffs. I didn't even get to kick extra points. Really not having that much high school experience and getting a full ride starting off in college and at an SEC school, it really was a dream come true."

Briefly, here is how the second-leading scorer in UM football history with 307 points currently got to Oxford.

"I went to Miami (Fla.), and won the combine there," Shene said. "I already had a walk-on offer from Arkansas. One of the linemen from my high school was going there. He actually decommitted and went to OSU.

"There was really nobody else in the picture until that combine, and then I got an offer from Arkansas State and a walk-on offer from OU. Then I got the offer from Ole Miss. Everything worked out perfectly. I'm really excited that I got to go here."

And really excited he gets the chance to close it out against a Sooner state team – the Cowboys.

"We've never played anybody from Oklahoma," Shene said. "We played Texas Tech here last year, and we had played Missouri (in the regular season). We've danced all around it, but never a team from Oklahoma. That's one thing that makes me excited for this game. I get to play a team from my home state."

He recalls the last time Ole Miss and Oklahoma State got together on the gridiron.

"It was my sophomore year. I graduated in 2006. I remember that game," he said of the Cotton Bowl of 2004, won by the Rebels 31-28. "I cheered for OSU except when they played OU. I wanted them to win at the time, but looking back I'm glad they didn't win."

Not only does Shene hope Ole Miss wins this time, he hopes it isn't his last time to tee it up on a football field.

"I always hope for that," he said of playing more football after his UM career his over. "If it happens, it happens. Right now I'm definitely looking forward to this game. That's my No. 1 priority, and when that's over, I'll try to continue to play. I'll see where that leads me."

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