Ole Miss enters the 2013 season with sky-high expectations after the first season under Hugh Freeze. Quarterback Bo Wallace is tasked with fulfilling the team’s and fans’ expectations while also putting himself on the radar of NFL scouts. Wallace is on ESPN draft aficionado Mel Kiper’s list of top quarterback prospects checking in at No. 9 and the fifth ranked underclassman.
If Wallace has a season commensurate with the success the Rebels are anticipating, he could have a difficult decision to make next winter. Wallace is coming back from shoulder surgery he had shortly after the team’s BBVA Compass Bowl victory. In fact, he played the bulk of the 2012 season with the injury, but he still played admirably throwing for 2,994 yards and 22 touchdowns.
He started throwing again this month and Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger writes the team is pursuing an aggressive rehabilitation to get the team’s most valuable player 100% for the fall. Provided Wallace is fully healed, this season it is scary to think how much better he can be after being hindered for the final 11 games with his injury.
Wallace has the arm talent to develop into an early round NFL draft pick, and at 6-5, 210-pounds has the frame that talent evaluators love in a quarterback. He is far from a finished product, but his biggest improvement must come in reducing his interception total. After throwing 17 interceptions, seven in the final three games, it is rational to give Wallace the benefit of the doubt because his arm strength was dramatically compromised.
Nevertheless, his touchdown-to-interception ratio will have to improve, and it will this year with a better understanding of opposing defenses and maturation within the offense. As a result his reads will be faster and the ball will get out of his hand quickly reducing the time defenses have to break on the ball.
Wallace can conservatively throw for 3,300 yards with 30 touchdowns and drop his interceptions to 12 with a healthy shoulder and veteran offensive line protecting him. He also has a game-changing receiver in Donte Moncrief and the No. 1 wide receiver recruit, Laquon Treadwell to get the ball to, so he won’t be hurting for weapons.
The big question remains whether his junior season will be his final season in Oxford and if he will jump at the opportunity to be in the NFL. Let’s say the NFL draft advisory board views him as a third round pick; would that be high enough for him to forgo what could be a historic 2014? As was the case with Matt Barkley in this year’s NFL draft, it is best to cash in when your value is high rather than risk returning to school and seeing your draft stock and bank account suffer.
I don’t mean to suggest he plays for the lure of the big money, but he does want to play in the NFL and waiting another year could be hard to pass up as it was in the curious case of Jevan Snead. I think the hardest thing to pass up would be playing for the fans that love him at Ole Miss, and one more year to develop under Freeze is immense. These are the two overriding factors that have me believing he won’t be saying goodbye to Ole Miss before his senior year.
As a senior he can compete for a conference title, and if he does that he’ll rocket up draft boards so fast he’d get whiplash. That’s something Wallace would most definitely embrace, and it would be a nice reward for his patience.
Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty this could be the best Rebel offense in years with Wallace running the show and Ole Miss fans from Tupelo to Tunica hope they can say the same thing in 2014.