QB Coach Dave Rader said he's only had one quarterback race as tight and as competitive as the one involving Nathan Stanley, Jeremiah Masoli and Randall Mackey since he's been in coaching, which is somewhere around three deades.
"I've had some tight ones, but the one I remember most was at Tulsa when T.J. Rubley came back from knee surgery and Guss Ferrotte was a youngster. They went at it all summer and it was a really tough call," noted Rader. "That was in 1991 and T.J. won out. The next year, he started for the Rams and then Gus went on to be a All-Pro QB during his NFL career. They were very good, but I think our guys are really good too and I'm not blowing smoke."
What's the difference?
"There's three of them here, and I've never had that before," Rader noted.
Dave said there has been no talk, really, of a two-quarterback system.
"I think it is really hard in this conference to go through the season with one, but we have not discussed anything yet but finding one for now," he explained. "This is a very interesting situation because all three of our guys are doing very, very well."
Wide Receiver Melvin Harris has been injured a lot in his first two years at Ole Miss, but now he's healthy.
"Being injured, God was just putting me through a test. I got to learn and watch and now I feel more mentally tough," said Harris. "When I first got here, I wasn't as mentally tough as I should have been, but I have grown up. Now, I don't think about being hurt or anything else. I just think about doing my job and helping my team."
Melvin is playing with extreme confidence for two or three reasons.
"I'm a lot stronger now than I was when I got here. I have raised my bench by 100 pounds," Melvin noted. "Coach (Don) Decker is getting me right. Being stronger has meant a lot to my game. When I got here, I was easily pushed around and I had a poor mental image of myself. Now, that's not happening and I know I can take on someone who weighs 230. It's all in the head.
"I am much more confident. The summer workouts helped me with that. They were tough, but I thrived in them for the most part. I am determined that this is the year I need to step up for the team."
Junior CB Marcus Temple has faith in his coverage ability and in taking over for Marshay Green and Cassius Vaughn, last year's starters, without any drop in production.
"I've been playing well in fall camp and I am very confident. You build confidence by producing and by working hard. I have definitely worked hard to get where I am and that has resulted in some good production," Marcus, who has played a lot in his first two years but has never been a starter, said.
He's not about to rest on his laurels or the thought that right now he's number one.
"This game is humbling. You can be riding high one play and the next you are chasing down a receiver as he crosses the goal line," he smiled. "You can never let up. I won't let up.
"Besides, I'm not a finished product by any means. While my coverage has been very good - I'm in position to make a lot of plays - I have not finished as many plays as I would like. You can't finish them if you aren't in the right position, but it can be disappointing to be there and not finish."
OL Coach Mike Markuson has several good young linemen working their way through the program, but two brand new guys who have turned his head favorable have been Jared Duke and Patrick Junen.
"Duke is running second team right guard now and when he ties you up, it's hard to get around him. He's such a big, thick body," Markuson stated. "Right now, he's just learning the fundamentals, like most freshmen do. He's learning to rub off of people, how to step, and so on. But what he does well is engage with defenders and stays on them. He's still learning but I like his start.
"Patrick has been a very pleasant surprise. He's very smart, as Duke is, and I'm really glad he's here. He's a big body and he can move very well. Those two have me excited about my meeting room and the future, along with several more young guys who are on the cusp of getting it."
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