Happy Thursday, everybody, and welcome to the Ole Miss Wake-Up Call, your weekday morning destination for all things Ole Miss sports.
We’re leading with baseball today, and for good reason.
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) October 12, 2016
Baseball America ranked the 2016 Ole Miss signing class No. 1 on Wednesday, and well, that’s just awesome, especially at a school that truly loves its baseball team. From OleMissSports.com:
All 18 members of the recruiting class, including five selected in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, decided to continue their careers at Ole Miss. The class consists of 15 freshmen and three junior college transfers, including four freshmen hailing from Oxford.
The accolades of the incoming class are second to none. Eight earned All-America accolades last year (seven high school All-Americans and one junior college All-American), while seven were top-500 draft prospects by Baseball America. The Rebels brought in five freshmen who were ranked among the top-100 high school baseball players nationwide, more than any other school in the country.
Baseball recruiting is tricky. Unlike other sports, the best recruits often choose to turn professional straight out of high school. Ole Miss has lost great recruits to the draft in year’s past, and with this stellar class, there was the threat it could happen again this year.
“Throughout the spring, there were several guys we were really worried about,” Ole Miss recruiting coordinator Carl Lafferty told Baseball America. “As it got closer and closer, there was a little more anxiety. You can do as much as you want to prepare, but it’s all about draft day. When the first day ended, we felt a lot better; when the second day ended, that was when we were like, ‘OK, we’ve got a really good shot.’”
“If you would have told us last year at this time that they would all show up, I don’t think anybody would have believed you,” head coach Mike Bianco said to Baseball America. “I don’t know if I would have believed you five minutes before the draft. But one of the things that we’ve always believed in is signing kids that are going to show up. I think that starts with kids and families — moms and dads — that value education. They want to do this first in their baseball life. They want to experience college and college baseball and baseball in the Southeastern Conference and then start their professional career.”
There isn’t a college fan base that deserves this kind of baseball excitement more than Ole Miss.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming …
Bracing for another Allen
Arkansas piled up 605 total yards in its 53-52 win over Ole Miss last year, and 442 of those came from the passing effort of a scrappy quarterback named Brandon Allen. Now, the Razorbacks have a different Allen — Brandon’s little brother, Austin. But Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack doesn’t see much difference in the two quarterbacks. Wommack has been watching film of the younger Allen’s 400-yard effort in a loss to Alabama last weekend.
“I saw a good offense,” Wommack told the Ole Miss Spirit. “I saw Alabama knocking their quarterback (Austin Allen) around and him still throwing for 400 yards. He put it on the money, even under pressure. Alabama did a great job stopping their run game and pressuring him, but he made great throws regardless, and he has done that all year.
“Allen did that against Texas A&M, too, and they also roughed him up, but he kept popping up, making great throw after great throw. I am very impressed with him. He looks a lot like his brother, Brandon, who took it to us last year.”
And so you know Wommack is spending as much time as he can with Zedrick Woods, Jalen Julius, Jaylon Jones and other members of the Ole Miss secondary trying to get them ready for the coming air assault.
Speaking of which, remember a few years ago when Bret Bielema took the reins at Arkansas, how he promised a team that would play smash-mouth Big Ten football with a “we’re stronger than you and we’re going to prove it” as their offensive strategy? Whatever happened to that?
Austin Allen has piled up 1,632 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and is averaging 272 yards per game. The 400 yards against Alabama were the furthest thing from the smash-mouth football to which Bielema once aspired.
“I expect them to be more balanced in our game,” Wommack said. “Everyone has problems running against Alabama, but you never know. They threw the ball all over us last year, for over 400 yards, but they also kept things balanced, which didn’t allow us to hone in on much. It was a difficult game, to say the least, a year ago.”
Hugh Freeze was asked on the SEC Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday whether he watches the infamous Arkansas fourth-and-25. His answer sounded about like mine.
“I don’t voluntarily go watch it,” Freeze said. “It still would make my stomach turn. It was a crucial play in that game that ultimately cost us going to Atlanta. It was a smart play by Hunter Henry. Their kids finished the game, and we didn’t finish that play. If it comes on, it’s not a pleasant sight.”
“It hurt,” quarterback Chad Kelly told ESPN. “More than probably just a regular loss or even getting blown out because for about five to 10 seconds, we thought we had the game won. But that’s why it makes this game so great. Watching the Texas A&M-Tennessee game, the past two weeks for Tennessee — it’s a game of inches, and you just never know. You’ve got to play until the last second.”
You probably shouldn’t watch this, but I feel obligated to post for the full effect. Feel free to keep scrolling right on by.
It’s a matter of time for Treadwell
GM Rick Spielman says that when their numbers are called, the #Vikings rookies will be ready.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 12, 2016
The Minnesota Vikings are five games into the season and their first-round draft pick has barely seen the playing field, but Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman told Vikings.com that Treadwell’s time is coming, spinning the lack of playing time for the team’s rookies as a positive for undefeated Minnesota.
“It shows that if you have the flexibility to have time to develop those guys, that when their number does come up, they’re truly ready to go. To see this draft class and the development of where they were in Week 1 to where they are today, I don’t think our coaches or I have any doubt that when these guys’ numbers get called, they’ll be ready.
“It’s amazing how a four-week period can change a guy,” Spielman added. “How all of a sudden they’re not thinking as they’re out there playing — they’re just playing naturally. And how much more comfortable they feel in this environment, in the locker room and in the schemes.”
It’s hard to argue with the GM of the NFL’s last remaining undefeated team. Spielman, who orchestrated the trade for quarterback Sam Bradford in the preseason after Teddy Bridgewater was lost to a knee injury, looks masterful here in mid-October.
But that only lessens the disappointment of Ole Miss and Vikings fans who can’t wait to see Treadwell doing Treadwell things in Minnesota.
The best receiver in Ole Miss history was inactive for part of this season, and he still hasn’t caught his first pass. Treadwell did field an onside kick on Sunday against the Houston Texans. The Vikings didn’t draft Treadwell in the first round to sit on the bench the entire season. We’ll be seeing more of him soon.
Cam Akers is watching the NCAA investigation
If the NCAA’s investigation of Ole Miss hasn’t concluded before National Signing Day, it will probably cost the Rebels a chance at one of the best high school running backs in the country.
“Ole Miss is home,” 5-star running back Cam Akers told 247 Sports. “I feel like based on what I saw and what they’ve told me, they can use a running back. They need a running back very dearly. I’ve paid attention to a couple of their games. It’s home. The NCAA thing, nobody knows what’s going to happen with those, so that’s a big question mark, but it’s definitely still home.”
Akers, who accepted his jersey to play in the U.S. Army All-American team on Wednesday, appears to be deciding between Ohio State, Florida State, Ole Miss and LSU.
Here’s a look at Akers’ midseason highlights. I think you’ll agree with Akers … Ole Miss could use him dearly.
Tweets you’ll like
.@BarrettSallee says 3-2 Ole Miss is a top 10 team
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) October 12, 2016
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) October 12, 2016