By Parrish Alford / NEMS Daily Journal
Former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will play football for Ole Miss this season.
The legally troubled star, dismissed from the Ducks in June after his second run-in with the law in six months, made the announcement on the Sports Illustrated website, SI.com.
SI.com writer Andy Staples posted a story breaking the news on Sunday afternoon, and Rebels coach Houston Nutt later confirmed Masoli’s decision to the Daily Journal.
Masoli posted a statement on his website, www.jeremiahmasoli.net: “I am very excited about this opportunity and very thankful Ole Miss is giving me this chance. I really want to thank Coach Nutt for believing in me.”
Masoli still must be admitted to graduate school and receive from the NCAA a one-year waiver of the residency requirement.
Not long after the SI.com report appeared on Sunday, Ole Miss defensive end Kentrell Lockett – one of Masoli’s hosts on his weekend visit to Oxford – posted a Twitter message that said, “Shoutout to the newest member of the squad J. Masoli.”
Masoli will join the team as a walk-on, because there is not a scholarship available.
“Scholarship or not, they’re going to get some criticism for taking me,” Masoli told Staples. “Without the scholarship, I think it deflects some of that criticism.”
The anticipated criticism comes from a burglary charge in January that caused him to be suspended for the 2010 season by Oregon coach Chip Kelly and from being cited in June for possession of marijuana and for driving with a suspended license.
Masoli’s website says that Masoli “professed his innocence” to the burglary charge privately but pleaded guilty to avoid jail time.
Earlier in July, Nutt passed on the chance to pursue Masoli, but that changed on July 24 when redshirt freshman quarterback Raymond Cotton announced he was leaving the program. That left the Rebels with only two scholarship quarterbacks, third-year sophomore Nathan Stanley, who appeared in only five games as Jevan Snead’s backup last year, mostly mop-up duty, and junior college transfer Randall Mackey, who had just arrived in June.
Nutt’s stance on Masoli changed with his needs, and now Masoli, named to first- and second- All-Pac 10 teams last year, brings a measure of experience to an offense that lacks it at many positions.
He will not be named starter in advance, as was Brent Schaeffer, a high-profile transfer under former coach Ed Orgeron in 2006. Nutt said he will have a competition. He praised Stanley and Mackey for supportive attitudes as the process with Masoli unfolded.
Masoli (5-foot-11, 220 pounds) was 20-6 as a two-year starter for the Ducks, throwing for 3,891 yards and 28 touchdowns, rushing for 1,386 yards and 23 more touchdowns.
He threw five interceptions in 2008, six interceptions in 2009.
Offensive styles have been different through the years, but Ole Miss has not had a starting quarterback throw fewer than seven interceptions in a season since Josh Nelson threw six in 1995.
“I am excited to get another chance,” Masoli told SI.com. “I am so grateful and thankful.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org