By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – As Donte Moncrief moved on, Laquon Treadwell has moved outside.
Ole Miss will have to replace Moncrief, one of the top wide receivers at the NFL combine, but Rebels’ coach Hugh Freeze believes Treadwell is up to the challenge.
The No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the Class of 2013, Treadwell, of Crete, Ill., was named the SEC Freshman of the Year by league coaches after leading the team with 72 catches a year ago.
Most of that came from the slot, the inside receiver, where the responsibilities are very different.
“I’ve had to work on it. Inside is basically just get in the zone. Outside you’ve got to beat your man off the line, set him up and try to win the route,” Treadwell said.
Treadwell’s move outside left a void inside that Quincy Adeboyejo (6-3, 189), another rising sophomore, was eager to fill.
Moncrief isn’t the only wide receiver lost. Ja-Mes Logan and Jordan Holder, key contributors to the group, were seniors last year.
What’s left is a mix of younger players and veterans – rising senior Vince Sanders returns – and promising newcomers who will arrive in the summer.
Treadwell’s 6-foot-2, 224-pound frame will be give him a chance to win the route most of the time.
In terms of number of catches, Freeze doesn’t expect Treadwell’s production to change much. It’s the types of catches, like the downfield throws he’s hauled in this spring, where things are different.
Treadwell had five touchdown catches last year.
“His explosive plays will probably be more. He’s excited about playing outside. He’s been phenomenal in practice,” Freeze said. “I think he’s going to be a special player out there for us and a physical blocker, a big guy that can catch with people in tight coverage. I’m excited about that.”
As the Rebels targeted Moncrief on longer routes, Treadwell’s assignments often called for him to catch short passes then break contact or make defenders miss.
While Treadwell was third in the SEC with 5.5 receptions per game, Moncrief out-paced him by more than 300 yards.
“It doesn’t matter where you put him, but the fact that he’s outside now, we’ll get him singled up a lot more,” offensive coordinator Dan Werner said.
It doesn’t really matter to Adeboyejo where he lines up either. A four-star prospect from Dallas, Adeboyejo was just eager to get on the field.
He had higher expectations for a freshman season that included seven catches for 81 yards.
“It was a little rough at times,” he said. “I didn’t really have too many opportunities. There are some that I left out on the field, and I’m ready to come back at it and make a change on that.”