By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Hugh Freeze has already labeled Nick Brassell an “NFL corner.”
Freeze, the Ole Miss football coach, hopes Brassell can become an All-SEC one before he gets there.
A dynamic athlete who played offense, defense and special teams as a freshman for former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt in 2011, Brassell did not make the grades to remain at Ole Miss and spent the 2012 fall semester playing for East Mississippi Community College.
He re-signed with Ole Miss – a part of Freeze’s nationally acclaimed top 10 signing class – and enrolled in January.
But Brassell’s mere presence in class doesn’t constitute an easy path to the field. Had he stayed at EMCC long enough to graduate, he would have returned to Ole Miss with a clean slate. Because he returned after one semester, he inherits the academic standing he had in the spring of 2012.
“We have a great concern for how he is going about his business, and to this point I couldn’t be more pleased in the difference I’ve seen in him last spring and this spring and his attention to the things required of him,” Freeze said.
chance to play in spring
If Brassell, a high school All-American at South Panola, continues to attend class and shows a good-faith effort with his grades he’ll be allowed to go through spring practice which begins on March 17.
The Rebels will practice mornings three days a week in the spring.
“If he starts missing stuff we’ll say, ‘Just forget it.’ We anticipate him going through the spring,” Freeze said.
Last spring – Freeze’s first on-field action with the Rebels – Brassell practiced very little, missing most of the workouts to focus on academics. He practiced enough for Freeze to believe he has a future on Sundays.
“He’s special. He’s an NFL corner,” Freeze said.
So important is Brassell to Ole Miss that Derek Cowherd, the school’s head of athletics academic support, is overseeing his progress this semester.
Having played as a sophomore at EMCC Brassell is a junior in football eligibility. The NCAA requires that athletes complete 40 percent toward a degree and maintain a minimum 1.9 grade point average as they begin their junior seasons.
Freeze says he should be able to determine at the end of this semester whether Brassell will be eligible in the fall.
“If he pulls off a good semester I’ll start to feel a lot better,” Freeze said. “He still has a long way to go.”