'Grayshirts' may fit football signees this fall

By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal

The practice of “oversigning” football recruits in the SEC was dealt a blow by league presidents last week, but it wasn’t abolished.
So the fate of recruits who have been asked to grayshirt – to enroll in January and go on scholarship at a later date while the numbers flesh out – will depend on the scholarship numbers at each university.
SEC presidents voted last Friday to allow only 25 signees per year, dropping the number from the 28 they agreed upon at the 2010 SEC meetings.
In the past, those three extra signees would have taken the place of signees who did not qualify academically or for some other reason – the Major League baseball draft, perhaps – failed to report.
If 25 signees did in fact report, the grayshirt player would enroll in January.
“It depends on what an institution has available,” said Greg Sankey, the SEC’s commissioner for NCAA compliance. “It will vary by program and by year.”
The change goes into affect Aug. 1 and will affect the 2012 signing class, Sankey said.
The old rules remain in effect for the current class, which for Ole Miss includes two possible grayshirts, quarterback Maikhail Miller of Itawamba AHS and receiver Collins Moore of Madison, Ala.
Before the Destin meetings began, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said he would “fight” to keep the number of signees at 28.
SEC coaches voted 12-0 to keep the number, but the presidents voted 12-0 to reduce it.
The 25 number can be misleading. If a coach has 20 seniors leave and loses two more players by attrition, he can still “oversign” by signing 25.
“Not a lot of homework has been done on the facts as to how many have signed and how many have enrolled in August over the last four years,” Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone said. “We intend to figure that out and see if this number is a good number or bad number.”
Nutt has singled out three players – defensive end Cameron Whigham, linebacker Mike Marry and offensive lineman Evan Swindall – has grayshirting success stories. All three are sophomores and all three are within the top two of the depth chart, Marry a starter.
Miller said he has not closely followed the oversigning discussions of SEC presidents and coaches.
He’s currently enrolled in summer school and working out at team facilities. He said Nutt first approached he and his family about the possibility of grayshirting in late November or early December.
At the time, the Rebels had two scholarship quarterbacks and were in the mix for two more, junior college transfer Zack Stoudt and West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti.
Veteran Nathan Stanley has since left the program, and Brunetti and Randall Mackey, a junior college transfer who redshirted in 2010, have an edge on Stoudt going into August camp.
“I really didn’t understand what it (grayshirt) was at first, but when coach Nutt got down to what it really is, he would tell me about it every time we walked to make sure I knew what it was all about,” Miller said.
Miller explored options after the grayshirt discussion, talking with Southern Mississippi and taking an official visit to Arkansas State.
“I was serious, but the facilities and all that, it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the SEC,” he said.
Miller visited several spring practices and Ole Miss and is focused on moving ahead with his college career.
“I think there are benefits,” he said. “My parents thought it would be a good thing. I still have a scholarship when it comes time to go to school, and you still have four years of eligibility. It’s not that bad at all.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or parrish.alford@journalinc.com.