By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
Brandon Bolden will be at SEC Media Days this week, and so will many of the running backs who made the coaches preseason All-SEC team ahead of him.
Jeff Demps, of Florida, made the second team, Auburn’s Onterio McCalebb, the third team, both with lesser numbers than Bolden, the fifth-leading rusher in the SEC last season at 81.3 yards a game.
In fact, Bolden had better rushing and scoring numbers than four of the six selections. The coaches chose three teams with two running backs each time but couldn’t find a place for a guy who is the third-leading returning rusher. And that doesn’t take into account Bolden’s versatility as a receiver.
The word “snub” will no doubt be used several times as questions for Bolden are framed in various ways. It’s an accurate portrayal.
My guess is Bolden will downplay his absence from the team and talk about the importance of improvement in the bottom line – the Rebels’ 4-8 record.
If Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt can take his less experienced team and go out and win more games against a more difficult schedule, the spotlight will find Bolden, a senior from Baton Rouge, who will play a large part in whatever the Rebels achieve.
Recognition at the end of the season is more important, Bolden will say, because it means you’ve done something. He will be correct.
Snubs happen, and they tend to happen to the downtrodden, which is how Ole Miss will begin the coming season.
The Rebels will in all likelihood be picked last in the Western Division when the poll of SEC writers and broadcasters is released on Friday. Polls this time of year are about what you did last year and what level of experience you have returning. The Rebels score poorly in both categories.
When it’s his turn, Nutt will talk about being close in some games last year, about the passion of the Ole Miss fans and what it will take for his team to get over the hump in 2011.
After his opening statement he’ll be asked about oversigning and about what has been referred to as the “Masoli Rule,” the SEC’s decision in June to require that graduate students transferring into the conference have at least two years of eligibility remaining in their sport. Jeremiah Masoli’s transfer to Ole Miss last summer, after being kicked off the team at Oregon, made national headlines. Had the rule been in place already, Masoli could not have joined the Rebels.
Also making the trip
Offensive tackle Bradley Sowell and defensive end Kentrell Lockett, two Ole Miss players who have not lacked preseason attention, will join Nutt and Bolden in Hoover.
Sowell made the coaches’ All-SEC first team and has been named to the Outland and Lombardi watch lists, awards that focus on the nation’s top linemen.
One of the best thing’s about Lockett’s sixth year of eligibility is another trip to SEC Media Days. He’s entertaining regardless of topic. The coaches respected Lockett’s productivity in 2009 enough to place him on their 2011 preseason second team, even though he missed nine games in 2010.
The media’s All-SEC team will be released Friday along with its poll. Maybe Bolden will have better luck there.
He deserves a spot, and it’s a big deal right now when talk and preseason awards are all we have of college football.
That will change soon.
Parrish Alford (email@example.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily about Ole Miss athletics at NEMS360.com.