By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The best college football player in Mississippi won’t be a part of next week’s spring drills, but Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is hoping that will allow other players to get better.
Quarterback Bo Wallace was a sophomore last year when he helped Ole Miss to a 7-6 record, a bowl victory – and won the Conerly Trophy, awarded to the state’s top player.
His recovery from off-season surgery is progressing well, Freeze said, but Wallace will not be a part of the action when Ole Miss begins spring practice this Sunday on St. Patrick’s Day.
With a little luck, no one will get hurt in the spring, and with a lot of work, a lot of people will get better, specifically rising sophomore Maikhail Miller, who stands to benefit most by the absence of Wallace.
Miller, the former Itawamba AHS standout, and senior Barry Brunetti will get most of the quarterback reps.
“Barry and Maikhail are both talented kids,” Freeze said. “There could be a time where you get dinged and the next guy is up. It will be very valuable to get Barry and Maikhail a lot of those reps. They will get plenty this spring.”
Practice is open to the public and begins on Sunday at 3. The Rebels will work mostly mornings until spring drills conclude with the annual intrasquad game, the Grove Bowl, on April 13. A complete practice schedule is posted at the football main page of OleMissSports.com.
Wallace completed 63.9 percent of his passes last year for 2,994 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also threw 17 interceptions. He attributed some of the pick-offs to a weak shoulder late in the season. He and Freeze attributed many others to his decisions under duress as he grew into the position.
Wallace also was the team’s second-leading rusher with 390 yards and led in rushing touchdowns with eight.
Miller appeared in two games last year but did not attempt a pass. He rushed six times for 19 yards.
Brunetti wants to play
Brunetti lost a competition for the starting job to Wallace but remained a factor in the offense, particularly as a runner. He completed 23-of-36 attempts for 196 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He rushed for 277 yards and three scores.
In December Brunetti expressed interest in taking over the Randall Mackey jack-of-all-trades role as a quarterback, running back and receiver.
“If they want to move me somewhere I’m willing to do it, wherever they want to put me to help the team,” he said. “I think I’m good with the ball in my hands.”
There had been no serious discussions about that move then, and Freeze said that isn’t on his spring to-do list.
“We may end up lining him up at quarterback like we did at the end of the year and do whatever we want to do with him there. I don’t know that we’ll ever move him. We’ll have to see how things go. That will be a fall camp deal. Right now he’s a quarterback that we’ll use in a lot of different ways. That’s what he is right now,” Freeze said.