Rebels, Masoli get to work

OXFORD – Jeremiah Masoli jumped right into the quarterback mix Sunday afternoon in his first practice at Ole Miss.
A crowd of roughly 200 fans turned out in upper 90s temperatures to watch the Rebels on the first day of August camp.
Masoli, the former Oregon quarterback, wore a red “no-contact” jersey along with Nathan Stanley and Randall Mackey, with whom he is competing for the job.
There was no real contact for anyone Sunday in a shorts-and-helmets workout.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt praised the play of all three quarterbacks on a day when the defense, which returns six starters, played with more speed and confidence.
“Our offense started out good, but once we got to good-on-good, you could see the speed of the game catching up with us,” Nutt said. “It was a good first day, not that many balls on the ground with new centers, but we have a long way to go.”
Masoli joined the Rebels as a walk-on last week, filing a need that was created when redshirt freshman Raymond Cotton announced abruptly in late July that he was transferring.
Cotton finished spring second to Stanley.
Masoli’s addition drew a lot of attention. He was 20-6 as a two-year starter at Oregon but was kicked off the team in June after his second scrape with the law since leading the Ducks to the Rose Bowl in January.
On Sunday, Masoli worked as the No. 2 quarterback in team drills, taking snaps after Stanley and ahead of Mackey, an athletic junior college transfer who is expected to play other positions as well, presumably wide receiver.
Prior to team drills, Masoli and Mackey worked on option plays in seven-on-seven drills.
“That’s something that comes natural for both of them, making reads and pitching,” Nutt said.
In the team drills, passing success was erratic, but Masoli had the day’s best throws, one to Lionel Breaux that he threw over linebackers and in front of defensive backs, another downfield to Korvic Neat.
“He stepped right in and had presence in the huddle when he didn’t even know the plays and was just reading them off his wrist,” Nutt said. “Coming off the field we (coaches) said, ‘We did the right thing for our team.’ If we’d have had only two quarterbacks, we’d have been very nervous.”
Nutt said Stanley picked up where he left off in the spring with his command of the offense and that Mackey, who played quarterback exclusively on the first day, was more accurate than he expected.
In other news:
n Players will address the media for the first time beginning at 9 a.m., today at the campus media day.
n Redshirt freshman Darius “Tig” Barksdale was dismissed from the team Saturday. Nutt said he wished him well but left open the possibility that Barksdale could return to the program if he successfully deals with what the school calls “personal issues.”
n Running back Jeff Scott was the first freshman singled out by the coach. Scott had a nice run in team drills and worked returning punts too. Nutt also mentioned freshmen defensive linemen Carlos Thompson and Carlton Martin and running back Nick Parker.
n Nothing changed over the weekend on the status of a handful of freshmen, including wide receivers Vincent Sanders and Quadarias Mireless, who have yet to be certified academically.

Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or parrish.alford@djournal.com

Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal