The quarterback situation at Ole Miss became more competitive this week, and it's possible that twists and turns at the position aren't complete.
Houston Nutt added pro-style passer Zack Stoudt to the fold, an accomplished quarterback at the junior college level.
Attention on Barry Brunetti and speculation about his future will increase on Dec. 28 following West Virginia's Champs Sports Bowl appearance against North Carolina State.
Brunetti's mother is ill, and he's confirmed he's leaving West Virginia to be closer to her. He was a prep star at Memphis University School.
Brunetti told the Commercial-Appeal last week that he had not decided on a destination. That doesn't mean he hasn't thought about it, and once the bowl game is complete, there will be about a month before the start of classes at Ole Miss. If it is to happen, there is paper work to be done, plans to be made.
It is possible the NCAA would grant Brunetti a hardship waiver and allow him to play immediately, wherever he goes, and not sit out mandated year for transfers.
Ole Miss is the closest BCS-level program to his home. It's possible that's less important to Brunetti, who could still play college football at the U of M within the city limits of Memphis.
If Brunetti transfers to Ole Miss and is granted a waiver, a spring-time quarterback competition that featured just two scholarship quarterbacks earlier this week will have four.
In the big picture it will also have former LSU signee Chris Garrett, though the Tupelo native will walk on and will sit out the 2011 season.
There are also a handful of current walk-ons, one of them Evan Ingram, who has been singled out by Nutt for his improvement. Ingram looked good in his scrimmage opportunities last August.
The question is what does all this mean for returnees Nathan Stanley and Randall Mackey.
The coach answer is competition makes everyone better. Indeed it does.
Though Stanley was never far from playing time in 2010, he didn't impress Nutt enough to gain meaningful snaps. He goes into spring as the team's most experienced quarterback, but it's not like he's had a year of starting or even backing up in key situations.
Mackey, like Stoudt, right now is little more than an accomplished junior college quarterback, though he does have the experience of having gone through the competition at Ole Miss last August and being in the program for a year as a redshirt.
Nutt likes a dual threat guy, and Mackey gives him that. He will play a pro style quarterback that he thinks he can win with, as he did with Jevan Snead for two years at Ole Miss.
If Stoudt or Stanley – or perhaps Brunetti – wins the job a move of Mackey to receiver would give the Rebels speed currently lacking at the position, and Mackey could still play quarterback as the Wild Rebel, a position that was de-emphasized during his redshirt year, as much or as little as Nutt preferred.
Whatever happens from here, competition under center increased this week, and that's not a bad thing. If Brunetti transfers and is granted a waiver it will increase more.