By Chase Parham/Special to the Journal
OXFORD – The highly publicized pursuit by Ole Miss of former University of Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli could be closing in on a successful conclusion.
The process took a significant step Friday morning, as Masoli began an official visit to see the Oxford campus. Masoli spent Friday with both academic and athletic personnel, according to sources. He can spend maximum of 48 hours on campus, per NCAA rules.
Masoli, who was dismissed from the Ducks’ program after two run-ins with police in the last six months and has one year of eligibility remaining, acknowledged the visit on his personal website (jeremiahmasoli.net). It was Masoli’s first public comment regarding a possible transfer destination.
“I’ve been invited to visit the Ole Miss campus this weekend and flew into Oxford Friday morning,” said Masoli, according to his website. “I’m excited to explore the opportunity to enroll in a graduate studies program and play football this fall.”
The one-time Heisman Trophy candidate applied to graduate school at Ole Miss earlier in the week, and while Masoli hasn’t officially been accepted, it’s may be merely a matter of reviewing all the proper documents before that’s accomplished.
Masoli would be eligible for competition under NCAA rules that say a player who has earned a bachelor’s degree and has remaining eligibility may transfer from one Football Bowl Subdivision school to another and be immediately eligible if the second school offers a specific graduate program that his original school doesn’t.
Masoli is pursuing enrollment in the parks and recreation management graduate program at Ole Miss. He completed a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Oregon.
Newly-hired assistant strength and conditioning coach Junior Soli – who played for Houston Nutt at Arkansas – reportedly picked Masoli up at the airport for his visit, according to sources. Soli’s hiring and Masoli’s recruitment are unrelated, however, Soli’s presence on the staff has likely been used as a positive selling point – due to both being Somoan.
ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that Oregon coach Chip Kelly had heard from six other head coaches asking about Masoli. But, since Ole Miss began recruiting Masoli, no other school has publicly expressed interest in the San Francisco native.
Nutt denied interest in Masoli last week, but communication picked up after quarterback Raymond Cotton announced he was leaving the Ole Miss program last Saturday. Cotton is transferring to South Alabama, leaving only two scholarship quarterbacks on the Rebels’ roster.
Sophomore Nathan Stanley enters the fall as the Ole Miss starter, and junior college transfer Randall Mackey joined the program during the summer. Mackey will likely also have different roles with the offense – including slot receiver and operating the “Wild Rebel” formation.
Masoli – a two-year starter with the Ducks – was the second team All-Pac-10 quarterback in 2009 and led Oregon to two bowl berths, including the Rose Bowl last season.