By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – A former junior college quarterback, a transfer from East Mississippi Community College who put up incredible numbers at the two-year level, is on the roster at Ole Miss this spring with the chance to do great things within the new up-tempo offense of coach Hugh Freeze.
If you’re thinking Bo Wallace, you’re not wrong. But the more correct answer is Randall Mackey.
A Katrina refugee who became a high school All-American in Bastrop, La., way up north about a half hour from the Arkansas state line, Mackey’s ability has never been questioned, even if his judgment has.
Mackey led the nation in passing yards (3,122) and was second in passing touchdowns (32) as an EMCC sophomore in 2009. He was a first-team All-American.
Upon the arrival of Jeremiah Masoli in the summer of 2010, Mackey went through a competition, of sorts, but late in camp was asked to redshirt by former coach Houston Nutt.
Last year he was poised to win the job until a late-August arrest made Barry Brunetti the starter by default and stunted Mackey’s development. He would later win the job, only to lose it with his second suspension as he missed the last two games.
Brunetti showed a spark in those games and has had a solid spring. He’s the QB leader, if not by much, according to Freeze.
Wallace – who set juco season records for passing yards (4,604), total yards (4,810) and touchdown passes (53) – is second, but Mackey had been a distant third.
So when Mackey was moved to receiver earlier this week, he said he saw it coming – which may open future doors for him as a TV analyst.
The fact is, Mackey is a gifted runner, an immensely talented athlete with one last chance to do something big in college football – provided he remains academically eligible.
The offense is designed to utilize athletes in open space, and Mackey as a slot receiver is a prime candidate to take a short pass and make something happen. His having played quarterback opens a world of possibilities for creative play-calling.
Emergency QB option
The move won’t adversely affect depth. In an emergency situation a Mackey-friendly package can be installed to move him back to quarterback.
Freeze is trying to thaw an offense that last year approached the end zone like it was a nuclear landfill. He needs all the weapons he can get.
Mackey’s willingness to use his gifts at another position – or positions – is good for him individually and the team collectively.
He has nothing to lose and quite a bit to gain.
Parrish Alford (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at Djournal.com.