'I'm not going to let anybody else down'

Jeremiah Masoli faced the Ole Miss media for the first time Monday morning. He started things off himself.

"How is everybody?" asked the former Oregon quarterback who practiced with Ole Miss for the first time Sunday.

And then it was time for those seated to ask the newest addition to the Ole Miss football family some questions of their own.

Talk about the Sports Illustrated story that appeared last week. Was that your story?

"I'm just satisfied that my side of the story is out there for the public to view for themselves," the soft-spoken, humble Californian said before about 50 media members assembled. "Besides that, not everybody will have the chance to read it or even care about it, and that's just the truth about it. I'm just thankful to Sports Illustrated for doing that for me."

It was a comfortable 72 degrees inside the IPF team meeting room where other Rebel signal-callers before him, like Eli Manning of the New York Giants and Jevan Snead the past couple of seasons, had taken their turns answering questions and talking with reporters.

That wasn't the case Sunday. Masoli was on the practice fields with his teammates, sweating it out in the humid Mississippi August heat.

"It was hot out there," he said. "That is a complete understatement. I'm from San Francisco, and man, that humidity was getting to me. Besides that, I was a little rusty. But it felt good just to be in a helmet and with the team. It was great."

There has been a question the past several weeks that Masoli might end up at Ole Miss or some other school or who knows where actually. But that all cleared up in the past week when it became known he would wear the red and blue colors of Ole Miss this season.

"The last couple of months have been tough, but I've had opportunities from at least a half dozen D-I schools," said the quarterback who played in the Rose Bowl with the Ducks this calendar year. "I was just happy to have that opportunity and get this chance. I'm just really thankful to Ole Miss and the athletic director and the Chancellor for giving me my last chance. I understand that, and I'm determined to do everything with it."

So why Ole Miss?

"Coach (Houston) Nutt was the main reason I came here, first and foremost," Masoli said. "Just him as a person, that's what really caught my attention. I could hear the genuineness in his voice. Something about him made me feel comfortable."

Masoli works out with the Rebs Sunday

Masoli says he's familiar with Southeastern Conference football.

"The SEC's bigtime," he said. "Everybody across the nation knows as soon as you mention SEC that holds a lot. I watched some games and they were exciting. I'm completely excited to be in this conference and be on this field with these other teams."

Masoli wasn't just a quarterback during last spring drills at Oregon.

"Spring ball was interesting," he said. "I did play some receiver because at the time I was suspended for the season. I wasn't getting as many reps and we were hurting in our receiver corps. It was fun playing out there. Anytime you get to play a different position it's a fun time."

When the time came for him to no longer be a part of Ducks football, he took it upon himself to check the landscape and see where he might want to play his final year of eligibility, having already gotten an undergraduate degree from the campus in Eugene, Ore.

"I did my own research for most of the schools. Some did contact me," he said. "But it was mostly me doing my own research and seeing the availability of the quarterback position."

Now that he's found a new home at Ole Miss, he expects to do everything within his power to help the Rebels win.

"That's simple," he said of his own expectations. "I'm just another piece of the puzzle. Whatever the team needs me to do is what I'll do. That is my personal expectation as well as my team goal. Whatever they need for me to do to help win here is what I'm going to do."

Masoli says his new teammates have accepted him well and he's appreciative.

"It's been great," he said. "Footballs' football. Anytime you get a football player, you try to welcome them. These guys have been nothing but welcoming. It's been a great atmosphere in the locker room. You can really tell the team has a great bond with each other. I'm just glad to be a part of it."

Masoli at Oregon

Masoli says it's important to make sure to continually be conscious of his surroundings and who is around him.

"I'm just very aware of who I am with now, and that's really all I can do," he said. "I come from a great home and a great family. My parents instilled some great values in myself. I just look to live like that."

There is the matter of football, and that is much of the reason he is here, obviously. Masoli says he believes he can help the team and be a part of something special here.

"I'm a true dual-threat quarterback. I can run and pass," he said. "Just being in this offense will give me a great chance to showcase those talents."

He says as far as being a starter, that isn't his mindset right now.

"I'm not worried about that," he said. "I'm just taking it one day at a time. Yesterday was the first practice, and today is the second. I'm just trying to stay focused on what I need to do to help the team."

Masoli says he and the No. 1 Rebel signal-caller out of spring, Nathan Stanley, are getting along nicely.

"Me and Nate are cool. He's a real good guy. We've just been buddies. We haven't had too much conversation. He's a good person and it's not like there is any quarterback controversy or anything like that."

Masoli admitted Stanley has been helping him learn the system and guide him in the early stages of his time at Ole Miss.

Masoli likes the talent he sees from the Rebels.

"That D-Line is pretty vicious," he said smiling, drawing laughter. "There's great talent here that can get it done."

Masoli admits the past several months have been trying and certainly anything but normal.

"This whole year has just brought a lot of resiliency in me. I've tried to stay strong for my family. It was very tough for them. Being persecuted in the media was one of the toughest things for my family to handle. Just staying strong for them and reassuring them everything's going to be alright. And now I'm here."

Masoli understands there is the so-called microscope near and far as to his past and how he will handle things here. But he is ready to handle it and move from this day forward to greater accomplishments.

"That's always going to be there," he said of his past. "But it's not just about football for me. It's about being here and proving myself. Coach Nutt has given me another chance, and I'm not going to let anybody else down. I'm here to show who I am, the true Jeremiah Masoli, and how my parents raised me and where I come from."

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