By Parrish Alford
HOOVER, Ala. – So nagging had become the shoulder for Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace that he wondered if he’d ever be fully healthy and winced when certain plays were called.
Wallace first injured his shoulder the fourth game of his college career when the Rebels were playing at Tulane in 2012.
The hit knocked him out of the game. It didn’t knock him out of the season, but it remained an issue throughout. Later that year Wallace was pulled from the LSU game at the end because Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, with the Rebels trailing, didn’t think he had the strength to throw it downfield.
Surgery in January of 2013 fixed the problem but kept Wallace out of the strength and conditioning program. Consequently his endurance suffered at the end of last season.
“Last year I was like, ‘Damn, I’ll never be the same again,’” Wallace said Thursday.
Wallace’s weakened shoulder caused him to doubt his ability to get the ball to his top target, Donte Moncrief.
“We’d call something deep, and I was like, ‘Man, if Donte doesn’t beat them off the line, I’m not going to be able to throw it out there.”
A year and a half after surgery – and following a May visit to shoulder specialist Tom House – Wallace proclaims himself 100 percent fit. And he says he has no fears of re-injuring the shoulder.
He’s feeling better, he’s more confident, and his teammates notice the difference.
“Laquon’s (Treadwell) yelling at the running backs, ‘We don’t even need a running back this year. Y’all go home.’ It’s fun to know that you feel it, but they’re also seeing it.”
While depth builds at most positions, Freeze did get some disappointing off-season news when he learned in May that backup Huskie Chief Brown would be lost for the season with an Achilles injury.
Still, the secondary is one of the Rebels’ deepest positions. They return an All-American in Cody Prewitt and a junior in Trae Elston at the safeties, plus Senquez Golson and Mike Hilton at the corners. Sophomore Derrick Jones, at 6-foot-2, gives Ole Miss a bigger, athletic corner to match up against taller wide receivers, and junior college transfer corner Tee Shepard is expected to make a quick contribution.
“The potential is unlimited. I finally feel like we’re a good, experienced secondary,” Prewitt said. “We’re used to playing with each other, and whenever we’re practicing, we make a lot fewer mistakes.”
Ranking the coaches
Freeze says his daughter Ragan, 15, keeps a ranking of the SEC coaches. He didn’t provide the complete poll but says he isn’t included on the list. LSU coach Les Miles is the leader.
“In her book No. 1 is coach Miles. Down in Baton Rouge he spent about 10 minutes with her, and last year, when they came to our place, she was out there talking to him without me,” Freeze said. “I would be her No. 1 I hope. That’s my girl. She lives and dies with this football now.”
Freeze said Ragan is often at mid-field scoping out the opposing coach at Ole Miss home games.
“Her little heart beats 100 miles an hour when you win, and he’s crushed when we lose. The families of our coaches, they probably have it harder than we do. I’m thrilled that I’m still someone she wants to be around.”
Freeze is upbeat about the academic progress of Shepard and believes he’ll be able to report near the start of camp. … Transfer OL Christian Morris is healing well from his Achilles injury, but Freeze sounded less hopeful that Morris will be granted an NCAA waiver that would allow him to play this season. The waiver request process is on-going. … Senior wide receiver Collins Moore recently sustained a knee injury that is expected to keep him out of action for four to six weeks. … The only freshman awaiting academic clearance is Tyrone, Ga., DL Chris Williams. The paper work is in, and Freeze is just waiting on a ruling. … As for off-season arrests, Serderius Bryant and Denzel Nkemdiche, announced as suspended prior to spring practice, have made continual progress in the terms presented to them to come off suspension. Freeze never used “suspended” to describe Channing Ward or Senquez Golson. “We’re confident that Senquez’s and Channing’s will be cleared up,” he said. At present only Nkemdiche is expected to miss the Aug. 28 opener against Boise State in Atlanta