When Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell hauled in a 58-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chad Kelley to put the Rebels up 23-3 against Texas A&M last Saturday, you probably didn’t think much about it.
It was a play you’ve seen a ton of times. Sure, it was Treadwell’s fifth touchdown grab of the year, but so what?
Let’s flashback to not even a year ago.
Treadwell caught a screen pass at the 20-yard line late in the fourth quarter against Auburn with Ole Miss trailing 35-31 on Nov. 1, 2014. Treadwell did what he does best; he used his physicality to make his way inside the 5-yard line and looked as though he was about to give the Rebels’ a lead with a minute and a half to go.
We all know the story from there.
Treadwell was tackled from behind by Tigers linebacker Kris Frost and the star wideout’s leg was trapped under him and snapped. Treadwell fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Auburn, and the win was all but sealed for the Tigers.
This past spring, Treadwell was already back on his feet running around, and he went full-steam ahead into 2015 looking better than ever.
“I first-hand witnessed how hard he worked to come back, so it’s not as surprising that he’s doing as well as he is,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said of Treadwell’s resurgence on the SEC teleconference Wednesday.
Touchdown catches have become a bit of the norm for Treadwell this season. He’s racked up 756 yards on 54 receptions to go along with his five scores. Throw in a 68-yard touchdown pass Treadwell threw on a trick play against Memphis, and it’s easy to see Treadwell has come back very strong.
So that begs the question, is Treadwell better following an injury that could have just as easily ended the hopes of what is sure to be a successful NFL career?
Freeze certainly thinks so, and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, who got to see Treadwell’s skill set on display last weekend, agrees.
“I told him that after the game,” Sumlin said Wednesday on the SEC teleconference. “I told him that I’m glad I won’t have to see him anymore. I think he’s one of the better players in the country. He’s strong, he’s physical. He separated on the big play, big touchdown. He’s a heck of a football player… He’s gonna have a successful career at the next level.”
Treadwell has certainly impressed many who have seen him play, but to Freeze, it’s not the physical nature that has made the difference this year. It’s the growth between the ears that comes heading into your third year in the SEC.
“I don’t know if it’s because of anything as much physically as it is that he’s matured mentally,” Freeze said. “We talk about tempo a lot here, but after the ball is snapped, the pace at what you play the actual play, there was some where you may grade yourself a six or seven in his case. This year, that maturity he’s had and determination to be better, the pace at which he’s played during plays, there’s a lot of nines and 10s. That comes with maturity.”
There’s no doubt Treadwell returned to form following that devastating injury. He’s projected by many to be the No. 1 wide receiver taken in the 2016 NFL Draft if he decides to leave school early.
But first things first.
Treadwell has a date this Saturday against Auburn — the same team that put his football future in question. It’s the day before the one-year anniversary of last year’s game. There’s no doubt he’s motivated to play Auburn.
But what’s really amazing is that he’s back and about to play his ninth game of the season, all less than a year removed from that horrific injury.