By Parrish Alford
As the Camp Wilderness theme continues at Ole Miss, no player, unfortunately, fits the picture more than the player who can help the Rebels the most.
That would be Bo Wallace.
A solid high school career and a record-setting freshman season at East Mississippi Community College – one that included a national championship and 53 touchdown passes – tells us that Bo knows football.
While that is important it’s one element.
Another is a maturity that opens the door to leadership, and Hugh Freeze, – who coached Wallace at Arkansas State before Wallace signed with Ole Miss – tells a story of a young man who’s grown-up skills were a little lacking, even for what might be considered normal for an incoming college student.
“I would love to hear Bo’s description of our journey together,” said Freeze to a crowded print ballroom at SEC Media Days Thursday.
It sounded a bit like the journalism trick of trying not to ask questions to which you don’t already know the answers.
“It was a little rocky at Arkansas State. He was all boy,” Freeze said.
Wallace left Arkansas State, because he wasn’t about to unseat starter Ryan Alpin.
Freeze didn’t want to see him leave but with the benefit of hindsight says, “It obviously benefitted him greatly.”
Can he help?
The question now is can Wallace, who has had two minor off-field incidents in his short time at Ole Miss, benefit Freeze and the Rebels?
At 6-foot-5, he stands much taller in the pocket than Barry Brunetti. He’s not the same runner, but he’s not a stiff.
In a solid spring game performance with 240 passing yards and two touchdowns, plus another rushing touchdown, he appeared ahead of the competition. After the game, he talked more about his plans for the summer than he did his comfort in the offense.
“I want to establish myself as a leader, show these guys. When we’re running, I want to be the first one done, then be the last one to leave this facility in the summer, show these guys that I want the job and that they can follow me,” Wallace said then.
Wide receiver Donte Moncrief says he sees leadership skills in both quarterbacks. There have been no signals from Freeze at Media Days or anywhere else that one quarterback is ahead of the other.
“I think Barry has some strengths that maybe Bo does not have and vice versa,” Freeze said. “Which one is going to be best for our football team, I’m not quite sure yet.”
Beyond Jeff Scott, the Rebels are thin at running back, and Wallace in the passing game appears to be their best chance to involve playmakers at wide receiver, guys like Moncrief and Randall Mackey.
It may all be irrelevant if Freeze doesn’t have the right answer on Wallace’s maturity. He thinks he does.
“When I sit down and have discussions with him about life or football or whatever, he’s definitely a different kid. He’s matured.”
Parrish Alford (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at Djournal.com.