OLE MISS

May 2014 Archives

Freshman shortstop Errol Robinson made a great play moving to his right to start a 6-4-3 double play to help junior right-hander Chris Ellis get out of the first, limiting the damage to one run. 

Ole Miss answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning and that's all Ellis needed, as he tossed his second career complete game and the Rebels defeated Jacksonville State by a score of 12-2 in the second game of the NCAA Oxford Regional.

"I'm really proud of the way we came out," head coach Mike Bianco said. "One of the goals was to be locked into this moment and play this game. Chris was terrific. The complete game was something we needed with the shortened regional to save the bullpen. He gave us that today."

The Rebels plated all five runs in the first inning with two outs, as they went on score nine of their 12 runs with two outs. The two-out rally started with a 2-RBI double down the right-field line from junior first baseman Sikes Orvis. The first team All-SEC selection had a career day, going 3-for-4 with two runs, five RBI, a double and a home run.

"After the first inning, I was kind of disappointed that I gave up a run," Ellis said. "There's nothing bigger than when you go out there and give up a run in the early innings, and the offense puts up five runs right after that. There's really no better feeling than having guys like Sikes (Orvis) ripping an RBI double down the line."

After the first, Ellis faced three batters over the minimum through the seventh, while the offense extended the lead to 12-2 with two runs in the fourth, two in the sixth and three in the seventh. He gave up a run in the eighth but came back and worked a scoreless ninth to close out the win.

Ellis was efficient, throwing just 112 pitches, as he scattered eight hits with three walks and a career-high eight strikeouts.

"When you see 10,000 people out there and beer showers going everywhere, it's a little bit different than regular SEC weekends," Ellis said. "I was fired up. The defense helped me out like usual. The offense every time I have given up a run this season, they have gone and put up four or five runs right after that."

"It was his best fast ball-curve ball combination he's had in quite some time," Bianco said. "He showed good command with the fast ball. I'm proud of him. Once we started to roll there and got a lead, you knew that you would like your guy to finish if he can, that way you save the bullpen."

With the win, Ole Miss advances to the winners' bracket game against Washington, which is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday. The Huskies defeated Georgia Tech by a score of 8-0 in game one of the NCAA Oxford Regional. 

After the game, Bianco announced that sophomore left-hander Christian Trent (8-0, 2.44 ERA) would get the start for Ole Miss, while Washington is expected to counter with junior right-hander Jeff Brigham (7-3, 2.93 ERA).

"They're very good," said Bianco of Washington. "From all the information that we gathered and the stuff that we looked at all week, it's probably what we expected. It's a team that's certainly very well-coached and puts a lot of pressure on you. We will do some different things offensively. Their guy today, (Tyler) Davis, was tremendous and made it look really easy out there. You can see why they came in second in one of the best baseball conferences in the country."

More on Washington: Davis Is Divine: UW's 1st NCAA Tourney Shutout, writes Gregg Bell, UW Athletic Director of Writing


Behind the first shutout in the program's postseason history from junior right-hander Tyler Davis, Washington defeated Georgia Tech by a score of 8-0 in the opening game of the NCAA Oxford Regional. With the win, the Huskies move into the winner's bracket, where they will play the winner of Ole Miss-Jacksonville State at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Washington took a 1-0 lead in the first and extended the lead to 5-0 with four two-out RBI in the fourth, and it was all Davis from there. The Golden Spikes award semifinalist allowed just four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.

"He did exactly what we had hoped he would do," head coach Lindsay Meggs said. "Nobody got to see anybody out of the bullpen. It's not just that we didn't have to use anybody; no one saw our closer or our set-up guys. The first time they take the mound will be the first time they see them. That's important."

"We had a pretty good idea about what we wanted to do," Davis said. "We wanted to make sure that they put the ball in play and force them to get three hits in an inning. Not a lot of people are able to do that. As long we don't walk guys or hit guys, we're pretty confident."

Sophomore outfielder Braden Bishop was the star offensively, as he went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, two RBI and two stolen bases. He has also become a fan favorite among Ole Miss fans at the regional, throwing the ball back and forth with fans in between innings.

"Yesterday was an interesting experience with them chanting, 'Let's go Huskies," Bishop said. "I had fun with it. These people are amazing. The fans are unbelievable. It's a first-class school. We're excited to be here and play in front of those guys."

With the loss, Georgia Tech moves into the loser's bracket where it will play the loser of Ole Miss-Jacksonville State at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

"We didn't pitch too many guys today," Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall said. "I told the team this afternoon, 'We have plenty of pitchers to get through the tournament.' Now, we have to win the next game, or we're headed back to Atlanta. That's the challenge. We have to play our best baseball tomorrow morning."

Jacksonville State enters the regional riding a season-long six-game winning streak, having won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship by winning six straight elimination games in the tournament after losing their tournament opener.

"We hit .331 in the tournament and that was after going 2-for-31 in the first game," Jacksonville State head coach Jim Case said. "We got shut down pretty good in the first game. We came back and swung the bats extremely well. We might have played our best baseball that week of the whole year."

"They played a good schedule and have beaten a lot of people," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "You look at their numbers offensively, and they mirror ours. They are very similar in they have an explosive offensive and have a good mix of power and speed. They have 70-plus stolen bases and 38 home runs, which is similar to us. It's going to be a good challenge for Chris on Friday. They're not your typical No. 4 seed."

Over the seven tournament games, the Gamecocks batted .331 and held a team ERA of 2.14. Junior right-hander Zachary Fowler will get the start against Ole Miss on Friday. He has a team-high seven wins, posting a 7-7 record with a 3.58 ERA. 

"He's a guy who didn't have a lot of experience before this year on the mound," said Case of Fowler. "He played junior college and was a first baseman. He has a really nice arm. He's pitched well late in the season. He's had some stretches of brilliance, so hopefully tomorrow night he throws the way he can. If he does, we'll have a chance."

"It's their ace and the guy who's pitched in that game for them," Bianco said. "To me, we have to do what we do, especially being at home and especially being in a regional. We will lean on Chris (Ellis) to give us a great opportunity to win. Offensively, it's important that we do some things early to push the envelope and try to do some things offensively to get on the board."

Fowler started two games in the conference tournament, including a championship game victory over Tennessee Tech, where he allowed two runs on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 7.2 innings. Junior right-hander Travis Stout, who has 15 saves and a team-best 1.17 ERA, worked six perfect innings of relief over five tournament games.

"We had some guys that threw more than what's normal last week, and we had to," Case said. "If we don't, we're not going to advance. The question is how do they come back from that. We're OK. It's not ideal. It's not how you would set it up."

The Gamecocks, ranked No. 91 in the final official RPI rankings, have played three teams from the RPI top 50, all from the SEC, with a win against Mississippi State and a pair of losses to Alabama.

"There's a big difference in playing a team on a Tuesday night and playing a team in the first game of a regional," Case said. "We played that game for a reason, and then we played Alabama the next and played Alabama the next week. We wanted to do that in case we advanced to this tournament so that we would have experience against some very good teams."

But about that tournament JSU just won, writes Joe Medley from The Anniston Star

Washington makes its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2004, when Tim Lincecum was a freshman and the Huskies made the same trip to Oxford. It was also the first time Ole Miss hosted an NCAA regional.

The Huskies (39-15), picked to finish 10th out of 11 teams in the Pac-12, finished in second-place with a 21-9 conference record. With their record and conference standing, as well as a No. 18 RPI, they were one of five candidates for the final two hosting spots, but ended up on the road as a No. 2 seed.

"We were not picked in the beginning to do well in our league," UW head coach Lindsay Meggs said. "We have had to prove it and prove it again everywhere we have been, and this is no different. Based on some of the things people said about us in the beginning, I'm not so sure people really expect us to do really well in the postseason, and that is one of the reasons we weren't given a regional. That's all the more reason to keep that chip on our shoulder and try to shock the world. That's been our mindset from the beginning."

Junior right-hander Tyler Davis, the Huskies' regular Saturday starter and a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, gets the ball for Friday's regional opener against No. 3 seed Georgia Tech. He finished the regular season 10-2 with a 1.75 ERA.

"We feel like on the road in a different environment for us, it's important for us to get off on the right foot, and he gives us the best chance to throw strikes early and keep us in the game, and not use our bullpen on the first day as much as we might have to otherwise. (He) gives us the best chance to have some rested arms for the rest of the weekend," Meggs said.

Washington was ranked in the top 10 for much of the season, but lost each of its last two series, on the road at national No. 1 seed Oregon State and at home against UCLA. Meggs sees the postseason as a fresh start for his team, which has been ranked as high as a school-record fifth in Baseball America's poll this season.

"We're starting over," Meggs said. "Everybody is starting over. For some guys, it's good. For some guys, it's bad. For us, we have talked about all year long it's a 56-game season to prepare for this. Every weekend, you're auditioning and working on the things you want to be ready to do in the postseason, so it was almost a sense of relief to get it over with and get here and we expect to play our best baseball from here on out."

Huskies enjoying experience, Southern hospitality of 1st NCAA tournament in 10 years, writes Gregg Bell, UW Athletics Director of Writing

Picked to finish sixth in the SEC Western Division prior to the start of the season, Ole Miss has played with a chip on its shoulder, and it has paid off with a division title and selection as a regional host for the first time since 2009.

"Everybody coming into this year, we knew we weren't projected as high as people said we could be," senior catcher Will Allen said. "We played with a chip on our shoulder the whole season, and that's had some success. It's a good group of guys and the way we mesh and play together. We have been pretty consistent all year."

Compared to previous years, the players notice a better approach and energy with this year's team.

"Last year, it was pretty tight," said junior right-hander Chris Ellis, who will get the start Friday. "A couple of days before the regional, you knew how it was. This year, it's been a lot better and it's a lot nicer and easier on us to play at home."

Ellis credited the leadership of senior co-captains Will Allen and Austin Anderson for the change, as the Rebels look to advance out of a regional for the first time since 2009. Allen said it's simply letting everybody do their own thing.

"The group of older guys that came back, the juniors and seniors that have been here, wanted to make sure everyone had their own thing," Allen said. "If you're relaxed, go out there and play relaxed. If you're one of those guys who gets pumped and intense, do that. We didn't want to force anything on anybody. Everybody has their own personality and own methods to doing everything. We're letting them do that.

"We wanted everyone to feel comfortable playing with everybody, and they have done a great job. You see Chris Ellis go out there, and he's a very relaxed, chill kind of person, but when he's out there, he's going about his business and he gets the job done."

With no classes and no midweek games, it's been a balancing act for coaches and players to prepare for the regional, from the bracket reveal on Monday, through the week of practice, to the regional opener on Friday.

"During the season, we get off-days and we're playing every other day, so we're not used to coming out here and practicing every day," Allen said. "Our coaching staff has done a great job helping us get the method behind everything. We're not out here for two-three hours every day. Sometimes, we just hit in the cage to stay sharp.

"Everybody's fired up and ready to go. In years past, we have been a little worn down and tired. Everybody is ready to go and excited for the opportunity."


Mike Smith has won everywhere he has been. The new Ole Miss softball head coach has compiled a career record of 748-224 (.770 winning percentage) in 16 years as a head coach at the NAIA and Division I level. He also has an NAIA Championship to his credit. Despite all that success, his focus remains on the process of building a program.

"The Ole Miss program will be similar to what I was trying to build at McNeese State," Smith said. "I'm going to do the best I can to mold these kids into quality individuals as well as quality softball players, and become ambassadors for the game and for the university and try to win an SEC Championship. We're going to focus on the process. We're not going to focus on the outcome. We're going to focus on creating a great culture and take it one step at time and doing the little things to be successful.

"It's about getting better every day. I try to preach one percent better and give me 100 percent for that day, and let the rest take care of itself. We're going to focus on the little things and focus on the process. When we do those things, we're going to be successful."

Another part of the process is to engage Rebel Nation and grow the program's fan base as other Southeastern Conference programs have done in recent years, which centers on community involvement and outreach.

"We're going to get involved in the community, and we're going to be out and about," Smith said. "We're going to have open practices, and I'm going to invite them to come watch and see what we're about. I want us to be out there supporting our student-athletes on campus. 

"We're going to be involved with the entire aspect of The University of Mississippi and Ole Miss athletics. Our softball team will be a part of Rebel Nation. With developing a fan base, wins and losses are part of that, but it's about getting people on board with your direction and what your plans are."

A program that has not advanced to the NCAA Tournament in its 18-year history, Ole Miss is coming off a 22-31 season, including a 3-21 mark in SEC play, but Smith knows the promise and potential of the program. He saw it from the opposing dugout when McNeese State played at Ole Miss during the 2012 season. He also knows it from conversations with his fellow SEC coaches.

"Ole Miss is rich in tradition, just athletics in general and the history of the university, and competes in the SEC," Smith said. "It's considered one of, if not the top conference in America. I have really good friends who are coaches in the SEC, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to coach against them. I respect them so much, and they have been mentors to me. Now, I'm going to be in the opposing dugout and coaches' box and coach against those people who I respect tremendously."

Among them are Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly, who has followed a similar career path to Smith, from an NAIA Championship at Pacific Lutheran, to continued success at Chattanooga, to six Women's College World Series appearances and two national runner-up finishes at his most recent stop with the Lady Vols.

Smith turned California Baptist into a softball powerhouse, having led the Lancers to eight consecutive NAIA World Series appearances and an NAIA national championship in 2009. 

From there, he left his San Diego roots for McNeese State in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to begin building his Division I coaching career, as he guided the Cowgirls to back-to-back Southland Conference regular season championships.

"I took a leap of faith and left a pretty good job in California to come to McNeese State and try to build a program and have success there and see what happens," Smith said. "I wanted to give myself an opportunity to do that. 

"Every step of the way, at the different jobs and the different responsibilities I have had, and the different people I have made contact with, and what my players have taught me over 16 years of coaching has prepared me and molded me for the opportunity to coach at Ole Miss and build this program into an SEC and national contender."

Chris Ellis, one of 21 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award honoring the nation's top player, will get the start for Friday's NCAA regional opener against Jacksonville State, head coach Mike Bianco said Tuesday.

Despite suffering his first loss of the season against Arkansas at the SEC Tournament, Ellis has turned in a quality start in each of his last seven outings. Ellis has formed a strong 1-2 punch on the mound with Christian Trent, as they have combined for a 17-1 record through the regular season and SEC Tournament. 

Ellis ranks eighth in the SEC in ERA (2.17), while Trent ranks 13th (2.44). Trent also ranks 10th in strikeouts (67) and third in fewest walks allowed (16).

Trent was scratched from an SEC Tournament start against Vanderbilt last Thursday due to arm stiffness but is healthy and scheduled to pitch in the regional this weekend.

"He was fine," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We didn't want to make a big deal of it. On short rest, we didn't want to push him and get him to a point where maybe he wasn't at his best this week. We wanted him to throw, but we weren't willing to push it at that point. When we got to Friday before the Arkansas game, he did his throwing and felt great. He would have started that Saturday and I would have put him on normal rest for this week. He threw a bullpen, felt great and is ready to go."

"I'm good," Trent said. "It was a little bit of fatigue but I threw a pen on Saturday and everything is great. There are no worries there. I'm ready to throw. There was no arm pain, just fatigue and after talking to coach (Bianco), obviously regional play is most important."

In Trent's place, Jeremy Massie got the spot start against Vanderbilt, his eighth start of the season, and worked 4.1 innings with one run on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts, as the Rebels went on to defeat the Commodores by a score of 7-2. Massie holds a 2.34 ERA over 53.1 innings this season, having split time as a starter and in the bullpen.

"It gives you flexibility, but you don't know how you're going to use him," Bianco said. "He's certainly one of our main guys out of the bullpen. Can he start? Sure. A lot of it will depend on the weekend and where you go to how you use him."

Before the SEC Tournament, Bianco talked about the team's pitching depth, particularly in the bullpen. That depth played itself out over the three games in Hoover, Alabama with five different relievers seeing action, including two appearances by Josh Laxer. Including Massie, seven different relievers have appeared in at least 15 games, and they hold a combined 2.32 ERA over 209.1 innings.

"The good thing about the SEC Tournament was we got just about everybody in, just short of a couple of guys that we were saving for the next day in (Evan) Anderson and (Matt) Denny, but all the other relievers got in, and everyone pitched well," Bianco said. "Over the past few weeks with no midweek games, it's been tough with guys like (Josh) Laxer and (Wyatt) Short, who have seemed to not pitch as much. Laxer got in twice, and although it was a little tougher for Short in his outing, at least he got out there.

"You want to win the tournament, but one of the biggest things is how it prepares you for this tournament. I was happy with how we used the pitching and how much everyone got in."

For the sixth time in program history, Ole Miss was selected to host an NCAA Baseball Regional. The Rebels (41-18) open regional play Friday with No. 4 seed Jacksonville State (36-25), with No. 2 seed Washington (39-15-1) and No. 3 seed Georgia Tech (36-25) in the other matchup. 

The Gamecocks have a top-100 RPI with a 1-2 record against SEC teams this season (win over Mississippi State, two losses to Alabama). The Huskies finished second in the Pac-12 conference and narrowly missed a regional hosting spot, while the Yellow Jackets finished ninth in the ACC and won the tournament championship this past week.

The Oxford Regional is paired with the Lafayette Regional, hosted by No. 6 national seed Louisiana-Lafayette (53-7), as well as No. 2 seed Mississippi State (37-22), No. 3 seed San Diego State (42-19) and No. 4 seed Jackson State (31-23).

 Head coach Mike Bianco

 Sophomore left-hander Christian Trent

Junior outfielder Auston Bousfield

BoG0-v6CcAA0D7C.jpg

Amid regional host and national seed discussion, 10th-ranked and second-seeded Ole Miss opens Southeastern Conference Tournament play Wednesday against seventh-seeded Arkansas. The Rebels are squarely on the national seed bubble after finishing the regular season 40-16 overall and 19-11 in SEC play.

Ole Miss will start junior right-hander Chris Ellis Wednesday against Arkansas, followed by sophomore left-hander Christian Trent on Thursday against third-seeded LSU or sixth-seeded Vanderbilt. 

Ellis enters Wednesday with a 9-0 record and 2.12 earned run average with 52 strikeouts and 28 walks in 89.0 innings. He has also posted six consecutive quality starts, including a win over Arkansas on May 2.

"It definitely wouldn't hurt to win a couple of games," senior catcher Will Allen said. "Obviously, we're not going to go down there and not try to win. As long as we're playing baseball, we're going to do the best we can. If we play well and do what we can and make a run in the tournament that would definitely help. It's up in the air, and we'll see."

With a series win at Texas A&M, Ole Miss moved up two spots to No. 13 in this week's official RPI rankings. Fellow SEC national seed contenders Vanderbilt, which Ole Miss might face in an SEC Tournament matchup Thursday, and South Carolina are ranked Nos. 6 and 8, respectively.

"You can't control what they do or how they're playing, but as long as keep playing well, we'll make a run at a national seed," senior third baseman Austin Anderson said. "All we can do is play well and win. If you start looking at that, you get distracted from what we're trying to do. Although it would be great to be a national seed and host a Super Regional, as long we keep winning, it doesn't matter where we play, we'll make it to Omaha."

For Allen and Anderson, they have achieved two team goals for the first time in their four-year careers: win 40 games and claim an SEC Western Division Championship. Other goals, however, remain ahead of them, as they want to finish strong and leave their legacy, individually and as a team.

"It's something we have been focused on the whole year," said Allen of the national seed talk. "One of our goals is to host a Regional and host a Super Regional. You have to take it game-by-game and really focus on the task at hand. Right now, we have the SEC Tournament. It would be really cool win an SEC Championship. None of us here now have done that, so we would love to do that."


Rebels Rolling Entering Hoover

Ole Miss left Tuscaloosa with a 4-5 record in SEC play, having just been swept at Alabama and having lost two of three at South Carolina two weekends previously.

From there, the Rebels have gone 15-6 in SEC play, including four straight series wins to end the regular season. The 21-game stretch also included weekend sweeps of Auburn and Kentucky and just one series loss, at home against LSU.

"Last year, we had a pretty good year, but we seemed to be dying out at the end and lost two of three at LSU," Anderson said. "At Hoover, we won our first game and then lost the next two. It seems like the team is playing well and we have a lot of confidence going into the postseason."

The Rebels have also shown an ability to bounce back this season. Ole Miss is 10-5 after losses, including a 7-1 mark since the 4-5 start in SEC play. They look to continue the trend coming off a 9-6 loss at Texas A&M in the regular season finale.

"Throughout the year, we have lost some close games," Allen said. "It seems like the next game we bounce back. I don't know the record off the top of my head, but it seems like after the games we have lost and the next game we play, we get right back on track. That's huge. To not really go through too many peaks and valleys but just consistently play, we have been able to do that this year."


Allen Wins Regular-Season Batting Title

Will Allen won the SEC regular-season batting title, with a .359 average, edging Kentucky's A.J. Reed by percentage points. He surged to the league lead, going 6-for-12 for the weekend series at Texas A&M. He also ended the regular season ranked second in RBI (55), second in hits (80) and seventh in home runs.

Allen has started all 56 games, including 50 at catcher, after serving primarily as the DH as a junior. He credits two years of maturity and strength and conditioning to coach Ben Fleming, for his ability to maintain his weight and remain consistent throughout the season.

"We lift two times a week and try to maintain my weight," Allen said. "A couple of years ago, I lost quite a bit of weight. I am making sure I stay between 225-230 pounds. I do a lot of stretching on my own before practice. I'm more mature with taking care of myself and making it a priority."

Robinson, Woodman Lift Rebels Late

Freshmen Errol Robinson and J.B. Woodman have been on a tear since the start of the Kentucky series. Robinson has raised his average from .285 to .310, hitting at a .375 clip, while Woodman has raised his average from .280 to .336, hitting at a .435 clip.

Woodman earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors for his role in helping Ole Miss clinch the SEC West. He drove in the game-tying run in Thursday night's win at Texas A&M and then drove in the game-tying run and scored the game-winning run in Friday's win at Texas A&M.

"The freshmen have had a big impact," Anderson said. "Errol, JB and Colby (Bortles), and Wyatt Short out of the bullpen, have had great years. Even as an older guy, when you see a freshman player with that confidence, it makes it a lot easier for us to feed off of that. Our whole team feeds off one another."


Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (May 12-18)

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Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
May 12-18, 2014

Baseball
- Ole Miss claimed the Southeastern Conference Western Division title and the overall No. 2 seed at the SEC Tournament with a series win at Texas A&M this past weekend.
- The Rebels posted a 40-16 record in the regular season with a 19-11 mark in SEC play. It's the fifth 40-win series in the Bianco era and sixth in program history.
- Will Allen and Austin Anderson were named semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy by the NCBWS, presented annually to the organization's Player of the Year.
- Allen was also named one of 15 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award honoring the top collegiate catcher in the nation.
- Ole Miss will open SEC Tournament play Wednesday in game two of the day against the winner of the previous day's game between Arkansas and Texas A&M.

Track & Field
- The No. 18 nationally ranked Ole Miss men achieved their best finish in 30 years with a fifth-place showing at the SEC Outdoor Championships.
- Senior Ricky Robertson and junior Sam Kendricks stole the show with sensational SEC titles within a couple of minutes of each other Sunday in the high jump (7-3.25) and pole vault (18-6), respectively.
- Robertson earned the SEC Commissioner's Trophy for scoring the most points at the meet (23), as he placed first in the high jump, second in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump. It was the second time in his career to win the award (2012 indoors), and he's the second straight Rebel to win the outdoor award (Isiah Young last year).
- Kendricks set a Kentucky facility record with his winning pole vault of 18-6. He captured his first SEC outdoor title and second league crown overall.
- Freshmen Robert Domanic, Sean Tobin and Trevor Gilley all scored team points for Ole Miss, led by Domanic's runner-up finish in the 1,500 meters (3:49.02) and Tobin's third-place showing in the 5,000 meters (14:16.74).
- The Rebels scored 78 points, including a whopping 67 on Sunday's final day of competition. It was their second-highest point total at an SEC outdoor meet in program history.
- The NCAA East Preliminary is up next. The top 48 athletes in each individual event and top 24 relays from the East region will compete May 29-31 in Jacksonville, Florida, for the right to advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon, June 11-14.

Men's Tennis
- Nik Scholtz begins his quest for a national championship as the NCAA Singles Championship begins Wednesday. Scholtz is seeded 9-16 in singles for the third year in a row. In 2012, he reached the quarterfinals.
- Head Coach Billy Chadwick will be inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Hall of Fame on Wednesday night in Athens, Georgia. He becomes the second representative from Ole Miss to be inducted, joining 1995 NCAA doubles champion Mahesh Bhupathi, who entered the hall of fame in 2010.
- Senior Johan Backstrom was named to the Capital One Academic All-District At-Large Team for the second year in a row. The Uppsala, Sweden, native posted a 4.0 grade point average this spring and boasts a 3.92 cumulative GPA.
- Associate head coach Toby Hansson, who will take over as head coach after Chadwick's retirement, completed his first recruiting class last week, signing the top recruit from Croatia (Zvonimir Babic) and the top recruit from Egypt (Mazen Osama). They join Sweden's top recruit, Gustav Hansson, who signed in the fall.

Men's Golf
- Junior standout golfer Blake Morris competed in the NCAA Auburn Regional in Auburn, Alabama, over the weekend.
- Morris carded a three-round total of 235 and tied for 64th-place overall.
- This concludes the 2013-14 men's golf season.

Weeks after the Southeastern Conference announced each team would continue to play eight conference football games per season, the league announced a 12-year rotation of non-division opponents for SEC football schedules through 2025.

Ole Miss will continue to play six games against SEC Western Division opponents, as well as permanent SEC Eastern Division opponent Vanderbilt on a home and away basis beginning in 2014. 

Ole Miss will play Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State at home this season, and Arkansas, LSU and Texas A&M away, and that will alternate home and away through 2025.

Ole Miss will play each of the other six SEC East schools once at home and once away during the 12-year rotation, starting with a home game against Tennessee in 2014, followed by an away game at Florida in 2015.

2014 vs. Tennessee

2015 at Florida

2016 vs. Georgia

2017 at Kentucky

2018 vs. South Carolina

2019 at Missouri

2020 vs. Florida

2021 at Tennessee

2022 vs. Kentucky

2023 at Georgia

2024 vs. Missouri

2025 at South Carolina

(Permanent opponents in 2014: Home - Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State; Away - Arkansas, LSU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt. Sites will alternate home and away through 2025.)

Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork and Ole Miss Athletics Foundation executive director Keith Carter announced Monday that the Forward Together Campaign has reached $110 million in cash and pledges. The total campaign goal is $150 million. Below are three new videos of interest. Fans can also live video feed of the ongoing construction, as well as a photo gallery displaying the renovations and expansion of the Manning Center.

Forward Together: Trailer from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.

Forward Together: Arena Fly-Through from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.

Forward Together: We Are Ole Miss from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.

For more information about the Forward Together Campaign, and to receive information about how you can contribute, go to ForwardTogetherRebels.com or call the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7159.

Ole Miss clinched the SEC Western Championship and locked up the second overall seed in the SEC Tournament as the Rebels won two of three games at Texas A&M this past weekend. With the series win, Ole Miss finished the regular season 40-16 overall and 19-11 in SEC play and moved up two spots in week's official RPI rankings, from No. 15 to No. 13.

Fellow SEC national seed contenders Vanderbilt and South Carolina are Nos. 6 and 8, respectively. Other national seed contenders of note are Louisiana-Lafayette (7), Miami (FL) (12) and TCU (14).

As far as the RPI top 25 and top 50, there are a couple of Ole Miss opponents to watch entering conference tournament play this week. Kentucky and Alabama each fell three spots to Nos. 22 and 24, respectively. Arkansas and UCF each moved more solidly into the RPI top 50 to Nos. 41 and 46, respectively, while Georgia fell 10 spots to No. 55. 

The Rebels will open SEC Tournament play with either No. 7 seed Arkansas (No. 41 RPI) or No. 10 seed Texas A&M (No. 33) on Wednesday, followed by No. 3 seed LSU (No. 16), No. 6 seed Vanderbilt (No. 6) or No. 11 seed Tennessee (No. 45) on Thursday.

Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers had Ole Miss among his eight national seeds, while Baseball America's Aaron Fitt had Vanderbilt replacing Ole Miss as a national seed in last week's projections. After Ole Miss' series win over Texas A&M, Rogers still had the Rebels in as the eighth and final national seed with South Carolina and TCU, among other teams also in the mix for a national seed.

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Florida, LSU and South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss Rebels

40-16 Overall | 19-11 SEC (2nd)

RPI: 12

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 22

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 14-11

Record against RPI top 100: 21-14

Road Record: 15-7

Florida Gators

37-19 Overall | 21-9 SEC (1st)

RPI: 2

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 14-7

Record against RPI top 50: 22-13

Record against RPI top 100: 29-17

Road Record: 12-8

LSU Tigers

40-14-1 Overall | 17-11-1 SEC (3rd)

RPI: 16

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 45

Record against RPI top 25: 4-8

Record against RPI top 50: 12-12

Record against RPI top 100: 18-12-1

Road Record: 10-9

South Carolina Gamecocks

42-14 Overall | 18-12 SEC (t-4th)

RPI: 8

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 34

Record against RPI top 25: 8-7

Record against RPI top 50: 12-9

Record against RPI top 100: 23-12

Road Record: 8-9

Vanderbilt Commodores

40-16 Overall | 17-13 SEC (6th)

RPI: 6

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 4

Record against RPI top 25: 8-6

Record against RPI top 50: 18-14

Record against RPI top 100: 24-15

Road Record: 13-7

Chadwick's Top Moments: No. 3

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bramtrophy.jpgAs we dwindle down our list of top moments from the Coach Chadwick era, which will officially come to a close at the end of the NCAA Individual Championships next weekend, today's moment No. 3 represents the true epitome of a student-athlete.  

In 2009, two-time All-American Bram ten Berge was recognized by the Southeastern Conference for his excellence in the classroom.  Ten Berge was honored by being named the 2009 Boyd McWhorter Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year.  He was voted by all the Faculty Athletics Representatives from the SEC.  As part of the award, ten Berge received a $15,000 postgraduate scholarship.  He graduated with a 3.97 GPA, made the Chancellor's Honor Roll every semester, and was a four-time ITA Scholar-Athlete recipient.

Ten Berge not only took care of his business in the classroom, he took care of business on the court.  He ended the 2009 season ranked No. 3 in the nation in doubles while spending 14 weeks ranked No. 1.  As a team captain, ten Berge was an All-SEC first team selection and led the Rebels to the NCAA Elite Eight and a final ranking of No. 4.

We will conclude our top moments next week.  However, we will have a couple of bonus moments that have recently come to light.  Stay tuned next week to catch the remaining moments from the era of Coach Chadwick, as well as some exciting and noteworthy bonus moments.

Follow Ole Miss men's tennis on Twitter, @OleMissMTennis and on Facebook at OleMissMTennis.

Special assistance from Media Relations student assistant Wesley Boock.

With a series win over Georgia, Ole Miss remained in first place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division and can clinch the division with at least two wins at Texas A&M this weekend. However, for the second straight week, the Rebels dropped in this week's official RPI rankings, from No. 12 to No. 15.

Arkansas, which Ole Miss won two of three games against earlier this season, moved up four spots to No. 50, while Alabama, which swept the Rebels earlier this season moved more solidly into the RPI top 25 to No. 21.

Ole Miss finishes the regular season with a midweek contest at Arkansas State (No. 60), followed by a three-game series at Texas A&M (No. 35). UCF, which Ole Miss swept earlier this season, is another opponent to watch in the RPI rankings, as the Golden Knights dropped eight spots to No. 48.

Both Baseball America's Aaron Fitt and Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers had Ole Miss among their eight national seeds in last week's projections, and the Rebels remain in both the regional host and national seed discussion with one weekend left in the regular season.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Fitt's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: Is it a given that either Rice or TCU gets a national seed, and are they competing with each other for one? If so, how is that race shaping up? Is any other Lone Star program in the national seed conversation?

A: I'd hesitate to say it's a "given" that one of them will be a national seed, because there's still a lot of competition for those eight spots; there are three very strong ACC contenders and there will probably be three strong SEC contenders (Florida, Ole Miss, and the Vandy/South Carolina series winner), plus Oregon State and Louisiana-Lafayette and Indiana. Frogs and Owls must both continue to play at a high level; and I do believe they are probably both competing for one spot. Right now, I lean toward TCU because it plays in a better league and is 14-8 vs. the top 50, vs. Rice's 8-9. And no, I don't see another team from the state in the national seed mix. Houston has a great RPI, but being in third place in the AAC (three games back, too) really hurts.

Q: Hey Aaron, do you still see Ole Miss being a national seed if they win their series against A&M this week and is Florida still a national seed if they lose this week to Tennessee?

A: Yes on Ole Miss. Feel like Florida is probably safe even if it loses this weekend -- Gators had such a cushion to work with in the standings and in the RPI, and all those top 25 and top 50 wins are loud.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Rogers's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: Hey Kendall, big fan here. I was wondering who you think from the SEC will get a national seed draw. Do you think two could get one? Thanks.

A: I anticipate having Ole Miss and Florida still in as national seeds this week. I could see the SEC getting a third national seed, and right now, I would give that to Vanderbilt. I'd also keep an eye on South Carolina if the Gamecocks take that series from the Commodores this weekend. Right now I'd go with two national seeds, but three absolutely far from out of the question.

Q: Will a series win at Texas A&M secure at national seed spot for Ole Miss?

A: Would be pretty hard to deny at that point. Would mean OM finished the season exactly the way the committee would like to see it finish.

Q: What does Ole Miss have to do to host?

A: OM is hosting barring some 0-3 vs. A&M, and 0-2 in the SEC tournament type of deal ....

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss Rebels

37-15 Overall | 17-10 SEC (2nd)

RPI: 15

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 23

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 14-11

Record against RPI top 100: 18-13

Road Record: 12-6

Remaining Schedule: at Arkansas State (No. 60), 3 at Texas A&M (No. 35)

Alabama Crimson TIde

32-19 Overall | 14-12 SEC (7th)

RPI: 21

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 10

Record against RPI top 25: 8-9

Record against RPI top 50: 13-13

Record against RPI top 100: 19-17

Road Record: 10-10

Remaining Schedule: at Jacksonville State (No. 101), 3 vs. Mississippi State (No. 42)

Florida Gators

34-18 Overall | 19-8 SEC (1st)

RPI: 3

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 14-7

Record against RPI top 50: 23-12

Record against RPI top 100: 27-16

Road Record: 10-7

Remaining Schedule: South Florida (No. 143), 3 at Tennessee (No. 44)

LSU Tigers

36-14-1 Overall | 14-11-1 SEC (6th)

RPI: 20

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 48

Record against RPI top 25: 4-8

Record against RPI top 50: 14-12-1

Record against RPI top 100: 15-12-1

Road Record: 7-9

Remaining Schedule: Northwestern State (No. 133), 3 at Auburn (No. 68)

South Carolina Gamecocks

39-13 Overall | 16-11 SEC (t-3rd)

RPI: 12

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 34

Record against RPI top 25: 6-6

Record against RPI top 50: 14-10

Record against RPI top 100: 18-11

Road Record: 6-8

Remaining Schedule: The Citadel (No. 202), 3 at Vanderbilt (No. 7)

Vanderbilt Commodores

38-14 Overall | 16-11 SEC (t-3rd)

RPI: 7

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 11

Record against RPI top 25: 7-4

Record against RPI top 50: 17-12

Record against RPI top 100: 22-14

Road Record: 13-7

Remaining Schedule: Southeast Missouri State (No. 75), 3 vs. South Carolina (No. 12)

Chadwick's Top Moments: No. 4

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Britton_Devin052509q_GC.jpgIn 2009, history was made at Ole Miss and in the NCAA.  Not by a seasoned veteran or a fourth-year senior.  History was made by an 18-year-old true freshman - he beat those more experienced players and seniors.  And at the end of the day, checking in at moment No. 4, Ole Miss' freshman phenom Devin Britton was the last man standing.

In 2009, Britton became the first player in Ole Miss history to win the NCAA Singles Championship.  Not only did Britton set Ole Miss records, he set new national records in doing so.  Britton, who became the first American-born player in the past nine years to win the singles title, became the youngest player in NCAA history to win the singles championship.  Britton became only the third freshman to ever win the national title, and surpassed a 19-year-old John McEnroe of Stanford to become the youngest ever.  Britton defeated three seeded players throughout his national title run, including ending Ohio State senior Steven Moneke's 22-match win streak in the championship match.

Britton would receive a wildcard spot in the U.S. Open where he faced a player named Roger Federer in the opening round.  Not to be intimidated, Britton would break the No. 1 seed twice despite losing in straight sets (as did most players at that time).  Britton created a lot of buzz, but has since returned to Ole Miss to finish his degree and is assisting his former coach Billy Chadwick with the Rebel netters.

Next up, we'll recognize a prestigious award by a Rebel player for not only his play on the court, but also for his excellence in the classroom.  Stay tuned to check out the winner of the highest award for a student-athlete in the SEC.

Follow Ole Miss men's tennis on Twitter, @OleMissMTennis and on Facebook, OleMissMTennis.

Special assistance from Media Relation student Wesley Boock.

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (May 5-11)

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Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
May 5-11, 2014

Baseball
- Ole Miss maintained its lead in the SEC Western Division standings with a series win over Georgia this past weekend.
- Junior outfielder Auston Bousfield continues to lead the SEC in batting average and hits, and drove in both runs in Sunday's 2-1 win in 10 innings.
- Junior right-handed pitcher Chris Ellis improved to 8-0 on the year with the win over Georgia in the series opener Friday.
- With the series win, Ole Miss is now tied with Georgia in the all-time series 37-37.
- Ole Miss closes out the regular season at Arkansas State on Tuesday and at Texas A&M this weekend.

Men's Tennis
- The Rebels rallied to defeat No. 30 Northwestern 4-1 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Championships before falling in a tight match to No. 13 Notre Dame 4-2. The Rebels' season ends at 16-14 overall. They made their 21st consecutive NCAA appearance.   
- Freshman Ricardo Jorge went 3-0 in singles and doubles in the NCAAs, winning both his singles matches in straight sets, to put the Rebels on the board in both matches after they had dropped the doubles point.
- Senior Johan Backstrom rallied to clinch the win over Northwestern, the second time he has clinched a win in the NCAA Championships.
- With the Rebels' team season coming to a close, the 35-year career of head coach Billy Chadwick comes to an end with five overall SEC championships, 10 SEC West titles, three SEC Tournament championships, 23 NCAA appearances, one NCAA finals appearance, four NCAA Final Four appearances, nine NCAA quarterfinal appearances and 16 Sweet Sixteen appearances.
- Junior Nik Scholtz will compete in the NCAA Singles Championship beginning May 21 in Athens, Ga. He is seeded 9-16, marking the third straight year for the South African to be seeded.

Women's Tennis
- The Rebels came back to defeat No. 26 Texas Tech in an exciting 4-3 match to advance to the second round of the NCAA Championships before falling to No. 3 UCLA 4-0. The Rebels ended the season at 14-10 overall. They made their sixth straight NCAA appearance under head coach Mark Beyers.
- Junior Julia Jones rallied after dropping a close first set tiebreaker to win 6-2 in the third and clinch the opening win for the Rebels. The win improved the series lead against Texas Tech to 3-1. Jones finished the year with a team-leading 27-11 overall record, 16-7 in dual matches. She earned All-SEC second team honors after going 8-5 in the SEC. Jones also teamed with freshman Zalina Khairudinova for a 15-6 record in doubles.
- Junior Erin Stephens ended the year on an 11-match winning streak.
- Senior Caroline Rohde-Moe ended her four-year career with an 84-58 overall record. She earned All-SEC honors twice and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Mississippi.

Women's Golf
- Sophomore Abby Newton competed in the 2014 NCAA East Regional and finished 38th in the individual standings.
- The Katy, Texas, native saved her best round for the final day, firing a 2-under-par 70, giving her a three-day score of 220. The 70 was her first round under par this spring.
- She also nailed an eagle on opening day action Thursday, her first this season and the third for an Ole Miss player this spring.


After giving up a run in the first, Sam Smith and Jeremy Massie kept Georgia off the scoreboard for the rest of the game and Auston Bousfield delivered the big hit, as Ole Miss clinched the weekend series with a 2-1 win in 10 innings. It was the Rebels' seventh walk-off win and their first since April 4.

Smith posted his ninth quality start, his first since a stretch of eight quality starts from March 2 to April 19, as he gave up just one run on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts in seven innings, which is tied for his second-longest outing of his career. Over his last three innings, he allowed just one base runner.

"He was great," head coach Mike Bianco said. "Even in the first inning, where they scored a run, they were good pitches. They were balls that happened to find holes, and they happened to be running on one of them, which a guy goes from first to third, and he ends up giving up a run. The first couple of innings, he gave up some hits, but they were not necessarily bad pitches. He had better stuff and command today. 

"His last two or three innings were better than his first two or three innings. That's saying a lot. Usually that doesn't happen as much for him. Usually he gets a little tired. He caught his second wind somewhere around the fifth inning and really made some pitches."

From there, it was all Jeremy Massie, who worked three innings of scoreless relief. He allowed just one hit with no walks and four strikeouts, retiring the last seven batters he faced. It was his third-straight relief appearance, which also included four scoreless innings against Kentucky on April 27.

"He's very mature," said Bianco of the move to the bullpen. "He pitches with a lot of confidence. He does what he does well. Some people complicate it. Some people think that you have to do something if you're a starter or a reliever. It's a great lesson for our young guys to watch. Most of them usually start out as a deliver. He's been both. He's been terrific since we have moved him back to the bullpen."

"He's very important to us," Errol Robinson said. "Every time he gets in the game, he's doing something to get productive out, gets ground balls and a strikeout here and there. He's been so important to us.

With the win, Ole Miss improves to 37-15 overall and 17-10 in SEC play and finishes the regular season with a 25-7 record at home. The Rebels can clinch the SEC West with two wins at Texas A&M next weekend.


 

Georgia evened the series, as Robert Tyler tossed his first career complete-game shutout in a 2-0 win. Ole Miss was shutout for just the second time this season and held to three hits, which tied a season low.

"He was just terrific," said head coach Mike Bianco of Tyler. "Going in, we knew that he had a big-time fast ball, and today he threw an outstanding change-up. When you have that kind of fast ball and you're able to mix your off-speed in, it makes it really difficult. They didn't give us any opportunities. We didn't have many base runners on. 

"On the opposite end, you have to your hat, too, because they got some clutch base hits, base hits with runners in scoring position that won them the game. It's a tough one. He was really good, and we weren't good enough today."

Ole Miss had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs just once, back in the first inning, when Braxton Lee led off the inning with a double to left. The next batter, Auston Bousfield, attempted to lay down a bunt to advance Lee, but Tyler threw Lee out at third.

"It's a signal given to him that we want him to move the runner up," said Bianco of the play. "He has the option to bunt. He's so good with the bat. He can do either, and he felt he could get it down. We could be really critical about that, but we're critical because it didn't work. We have bunted so many times this year and have had success. It's not about that. Sometime you steal, and you get thrown out. Sometimes you bunt, and they get the lead runner."

"I put the bunt down, and Braxton was thrown out," Bousfield said. "I was trying just move him over with a sac bunt. The pitcher made a good play and threw him out. Good play by him."

Offensively, Georgia scored its two runs on a pair of 2-out RBI, one in the eighth and one in the ninth. Before the first 2-out RBI, the Bulldogs had been 1-for-10 with runners on base and 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, leaving seven runners on base.

Bousfield led off the ninth with a hit by pitch, just the second leadoff batter to reach base for the game, but Tyler retired the next three batters in order. He allowed just three with no walks, a hit by pitch and four strikeouts over nine innings.

"He has a great arm, 95-97 mph most of the game," said Bousfield, whose 21-game hit streak was snapped with a 0-for-3 game. "He was throwing a really change-up up there and flipping a curve ball in when he needed to. You have to tip your cap. That's a really good pitcher they threw out on the mound, and we really weren't able to do much with him."


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Here's the link to the full photo gallery

Indianapolis Colts Pick Wide Receiver Donte Moncrief in 3rd Round, writes Craig Kelley of Colts.com

Getting To Know Colts Draft Pick Donte Moncrief, writes Kevin Bowen of Colts.com

Colts Find More Help For Luck In NFL Draft, writes Michael Marot of The Associated Press

Colts' Draft Picks Bring Some Old-School Feel, writes Reggie Hayes of The News-Sentinel

Colts Draft: Big Body Up Front, Fleet Feet Outside, writes Stephen Holder of The Indianapolis Star

How Did The Colts Draft Grade Out With Jack Mewhort And Donte Moncrief, writes Kevin Bowen of Colts.com

Former Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 90th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was the 14th wide receiver selected in the draft. Here's his NFL.com draft profile.

"I am so excited to see our rich tradition of NFL Rebels continue with Donte," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "With this hard work and dedication, I expect him to join fellow Ole Miss greats Mike Wallace and Dexter McCluster as successful receivers at the next level. I appreciate the commitment and leadership Donte provided our program in helping lead us to back-to-back bowl wins, and I can't wait to watch him excel for the Colts." 

Here's what ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay had to say after the pick was announced:

"Donte Moncrief has first-round ability, first-round talent," Kiper said. "He looks great physically. He didn't take over games. He didn't play to his measurables. He has the speed and explosiveness. He has to go out and maximize that ability. He has too much talent for a corner to neutralize him on ability. He had games where he flashed first-round ability. With those measurables, Donte Moncrief will go out and take over games on a regular basis."

"For all those guys who look at the analytics versus the tape, there's a place for both," McShay said. "The analytics are highly helpful when you're talking about overall ability. You can't take the number over what you see on the tape, but some people put more stock into Moncrief than others. This is about where he belongs. You look at his numbers. They're outrageous. Across the board, he was among the elite, if not the top performer, in everything he did at the combine. There's a lot of talent to work with."

Here's some reaction from Twitter after the pick was announced:

Ole Miss defeated Georgia by a score of 12-2 in Friday's series opener. All nine starters had at least one hit, as the Rebels pounded out 12 hits. It was their eighth game where they scored 10 or more runs this season. With the win, Ole Miss improves to 36-14 overall and 16-9 SEC play and extends his lead in the SEC Western Division standings to two games over Mississippi State (31-19, 14-11 SEC).

 
Chris Ellis improved to 8-0, as he allowed two runs -- both earned -- on 10 hits with two walks and two strikeouts. It was his sixth straight start where he allowed two or fewer earned runs.

Auston Bousfield extended his hit streak to 21 games with a 2-for-4 game. It is tied for the fifth-longest hit streak in Ole Miss history, and he is hitting at a .413 clip (38-for-92) over the hit streak.

John Reimer is the creator of Baseball Buddha, and he plans to attend Ole Miss-Georgia game on Saturday as part of his cross-country baseball road trip.

Baseball Buddha is a journey, a self-funded documentary of the spectator experience behind the love of baseball.  He travels by car and attends a different baseball game every day. The Ole Miss-Georgia game will be game 92 and day 100 on the road.

This journey, Reimer said, is his path to happiness, to enlightenment through baseball and the love of baseball, which started on February 14, the opening day for college baseball.

"I had become unhappy at my work, and my dad had triple bypass surgery last August," Reimer said. "I spent the first two or three nights with him, and the very first night, he was contemplating his life. We started talked about, 'What would you do if you could do anything?' I knew instantly what I would want to do. I wanted to ravel the country and see the country and go to a baseball game every day and then blog about the experience.

"I wanted to be happy. I wanted to start doing things that I wanted to do. I wanted to start living life with me dictating the terms. Everybody talks about doing things. There's a lot of talk, but then you have to act."

Through the use of social media, it is his goal to document the fan experience every day until the final pitch is thrown and the last out is played. It's not just the game itself, he said, but it's the fan experience with the game and searching and reporting the best stories of the common baseball fan. It's what certain parts of the country are like and finding out for himself.

 For Reimer, this is part of his second trip through the South, having visited Southern Miss and Alabama his first time through but he decided to come back through because of the fans and energy. That's what brings him to Ole Miss on Saturday. He will book end his visit to Swayze Field with a game at Mississippi State on Friday and the Memphis Redbirds on Sunday.

"I heard awesome things about and wanted to hit Mississippi State and Ole Miss," Reimer said. "When I was driving through Alabama on my first trip, I listened to an Ole Miss game because it was the only game on the radio and I could feel the energy from the broadcast. The fans are rabid down there. The energy is awesome."

For more information on John Reimer, his daily blog updates and ways to support him, visit www.baseballbuddha.com.

Chadwick's Top Moments: No. 5

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2009_SECChampions.jpgCounting down the top moments in coach Chadwick's career, we take a look at the 2009 Ole Miss tennis team's success along with a couple of individual milestones. 

Chadwick led the Rebels to their fifth overall Southeastern Conference Championship in 2009.  The Rebels won the title in convincing fashion, going undefeated in conference play for the second time in program history.  The Rebels dominated the nation's toughest conference in the regular season as well as the postseason.  Ole Miss finished the regular season 11-0, with wins over No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Tennessee, No. 7 Florida, No. 13 Kentucky, and No. 16 South Carolina.  The Rebels continued the streak into the SEC Tournament by going undefeated and winning the SEC Tournament Championship for the second consecutive season, leading to Kalle Norberg earning SEC Tournament MVP honors.  Norberg went 3-0 in singles and doubles during the tournament and also went 9-0 in the SEC in the regular season.  

With five overall SEC Championships, Chadwick trails only legendary football coach John Vaught for most SEC titles won at Ole Miss in any sport (6).

The Rebels also advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for the ninth time in program history.  The Rebels took down two host teams en route to the Elite Eight, including LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, respectively.  The Rebels would end the season losing to UCLA 4-3, finishing the season 27-3 and ranked No. 4 in the final polls.  This marked the seventh time in Ole Miss history for the Rebels to end the season ranked in the top five.

We will end this week with a moment that is arguably one of the greatest individual accomplishments in the history of Ole Miss sports.  Stay tuned to see who and what capped off one of the best seasons in men's tennis history.

Follow the Rebels on Twitter, @OleMissMTennis and on Facebook at OleMissMTennis.

Special assistance from Media Relations student Wesley Boock.

Ole Miss moved into first place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division with a series win over Arkansas this past weekend. However, the Rebels dropped eight spot to No. 12 in this week's official RPI rankings.

Two Ole Miss opponents -- UCF and Mississippi State -- moved more solidly into the RPI top 50 to Nos. 39 and 40, respectively. Auburn, which Ole Miss swept earlier this season, dropped 20 spots to No. 67. The Rebels' next opponent, Georgia, moved up 17 spots to No. 45.

Three other Ole Miss opponents to watch in the RPI rankings are Alabama, Arkansas and Arkansas. The Crimson Tide, which swept the Rebels earlier this season, dropped five spots to No. 25, while Arkansas and Arkansas State each moved up five spots to Nos. 54 and 55, respectively.

Both Baseball America's Aaron Fitt and Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers had Ole Miss among their eight national seeds in last week's projections, and the Rebels remains in both the regional host and national seed discussion with two weekends left in the regular season.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Fitt's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: What are your thoughts on Ole Miss' and do you agree that if they win their last two series that they will be a national seed?

A: I think that's a very good, balanced club -- one of the most dangerous offensive teams out there, and solid enough on the mound to be quite dangerous. Yes, if they win their last two series, they'll be a national seed.

Q: Yet another week of interesting SEC developments. Vandy looks poised for the hosting bubble and about ready to get into serious national seed conversation. South Carolina appears to be headed in the other direction and perhaps LSU. Besides the obvious choice of Florida as a national seed, who from the SEC seems most likely to get a 2nd national seed. UM or Vandy? LSU, Bama, or USC-E still have a reasonable/possible path?

A: I still think a lot remains to be settled over these last three weeks, but I'm leaning toward Ole Miss as a second national seed from the SEC. Vandy, LSU and South Carolina are all still alive in that race, I think, but Alabama is falling back. It's still a pretty fluid picture; a lot can change depending on how these teams finish.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Rogers's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: Safe to say Ole Miss is a lock as a regional host?

A: The Rebels would have to do something pretty bad the rest of the way (last two weekends) to lose a host site. This is one of those years where I think Mike Bianco really needed to get a host, and he's going to get it barring a surprise.

Q: Will Ole Miss still be projected as a national seed after this weekend?

A: I would say so ... but let me look at everything tomorrow. But right now, I would say yes.

Q: If the season ended today, who are your 4 or 5 SEC hosts? And, any predictions on who hosts from the league when these last two weeks (plus SECT) play out? Do you think we'll see a traveling 1 seed from the SEC this year? Please not VU to Liberty. I'd hate that more than getting stuck with Louisville again.

A: I still like LSU as my fourth SEC host with Florida, South Carolina and Ole Miss as the others. I also think Vanderbilt and Alabama are heavily in the mix. Vandy still has South Carolina, and that could go a long way into determining who gets a host site in the league. That's still a wide open race outside of Ole Miss and Florida at this point, who both look to be in very good shape ... Don't see an SEC team traveling as a No. 1.

Q: If you had to pick a team from the SEC not named Florida to make it to Omaha, who would it be?

A: South Carolina. If the Gamecocks are healthy in the postseason, and that's still a big if, they'll be in Omaha, IMO. My other team after that is Ole Miss. Ole Miss is extremely balanced this year, and that offense has a chance to put up some big numbers in the NCAA postseason.

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss Rebels

35-14 Overall | 15-9 SEC (2nd)

RPI: 12

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 22

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 10-9

Record against RPI top 100: 16-12

Road Record: 12-6

Alabama Crimson TIde

30-18 Overall | 13-11 SEC (t-6th)

RPI: 25

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 16

Record against RPI top 25: 7-8

Record against RPI top 50: 11-10

Record against RPI top 100: 18-16

Road Record: 9-9

Florida Gators

33-15 Overall | 18-6 SEC (1st)

RPI: 2

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 13-5

Record against RPI top 50: 20-8

Record against RPI top 100: 26-12

Road Record: 10-7

LSU Tigers

33-11 Overall | 13-10-1 SEC (5th)

RPI: 17

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 44

Record against RPI top 25: 3-7

Record against RPI top 50: 11-10-1

Record against RPI top 100: 14-11-1

Road Record: 7-9

South Carolina Gamecocks

35-13 Overall | 13-11 SEC (t-6th)

RPI: 11

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 30

Record against RPI top 25: 6-6

Record against RPI top 50: 13-8

Record against RPI top 100: 18-11

Road Record: 6-8

Vanderbilt Commodores

36-12 Overall | 14-10 SEC (t-3rd)

RPI: 5

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 19

Record against RPI top 25: 5-2

Record against RPI top 50: 14-8

Record against RPI top 100: 18-12

Road Record: 11-6

Remaining Schedule For Ole Miss:

May 9-11 vs. Georgia (45)

May 13 at Arkansas State (55)

May 15-17 at Texas A&M (32)

Chadwick's Top Moments: No. 6

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2008secchamps.jpgWe begin this week jumping a couple years into 2008 for moment No. 6.  The Rebels enjoyed a multitude of team and individual accomplishments during the 2008 season.  The Rebels began their postseason success by winning the program's second Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship.  The Rebels defeated No. 12 Florida 4-1 to take home the nation's toughest conference title.  The win was highlighted by senior Erling Tveit's performance in which he took down the nation's No. 2 ranked player in straight sets to clinch it for the Rebs.  Jonas Berg was named tournament MVP after going 4-0 in singles and doubles.  

The Rebels continued their hot play, advancing to the Elite Eight for the eighth time in program history.  The Rebels took care of business in the ninth Oxford Regional, taking down Marist 4-0 and Vanderbilt 4-1 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  There, the Rebels beat North Carolina 4-2 before falling to Georgia in the NCAA Quarterfinals.  The Rebels finished the season ranked No. 6 in the country.  This marked the 13th time in the past 15 years under head coach Billy Chadwick that the Rebel netters ended a season ranked in the top 10 nationally.

In addition to an outstanding team season overall, the Rebels would also have several individuals who saw great personal success.  The Rebels made up half of the semifinal field of the NCAA Doubles Championship.  Erling Tveit and Jonas Berg teamed together while Bram ten Berge and Matthias Wellermann formed another tandem.  Tveit and Berg finished as the runner-up while ten Berge and Wellermann fell in the semifinals.  All four players earned All-America honors which tied for most in the country by a single team.

On Wednesday, we will begin our top five with a bang.  Stay tuned and check out which Rebel achieved the greatest individual milestone one can reach in all of college tennis.

Follow the Rebels on Twitter, @OleMissMTennis and on Facebook at OleMissMTennis.

Special assistance by Media Relations student, Wesley Boock.

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
April 28-May 4, 2014

Baseball
- Ole Miss moved into first place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division with a series win over Arkansas this past weekend.
- The Rebels have now won five SEC series and nine series overall this season, with two weekends left in the regular season.
- Auston Bousfield leads the SEC in hits (77) and average (.368) after the weekend, and is in the top four in runs scored and steals.
- Will Allen is second in the SEC in average (.359) and RBI (51), and is in the top three in home runs (7).

Track & Field
- Ole Miss showed Saturday it belongs among the best track & field teams in the country with a strong performance at the five-team LSU Invitational, its final tune up for the May 15-18 SEC Championships.
- The 16th-ranked Rebel men finished third in the team standings with 110 points behind No. 2 Texas A&M (166) and No. 10 LSU (143). No. 1 Florida was fourth (104), followed by Miami (28). On the women's side, No. 7 LSU took the title at home with 158 points, followed by No. 3 Texas A&M (135), No. 2 Florida (100), Miami (84) and Ole Miss (73).
- The Ole Miss men and women finished the day with numerous personal and seasonal bests, and a total of six event victories.
- Junior Phillip Young had an outstanding day in three different events. He won the triple jump with a big mark of 52-10.25 that ranks him fourth in the NCAA this year and sixth in school history. He also placed third in the long jump (24-6.25) and anchored the Rebels' 4x400-meter relay squad that finished runner-up in a season-best 3:08.38.
- Freshman Robert Domanic was the top collegiate finisher in the 1,500 meters with a personal-best 3:44.78 that ranks him third-best in school history and top 50 in the NCAA this year. Ole Miss finished 1-2-3 in the 800 meters, led by freshman Sean Tobin in 1:48.79. Junior newcomers Dameon Morgan and Holland Sherrer clocked lifetime bests of 1:49.50 and 1:49.54, respectively.
- On the women's side, freshmen Mary Alex England and Saga Barzowski captured event titles in the 5,000 meters and 3,000-meter steeplechase, respectively.

Men's Tennis
- The Rebels earned their 21st consecutive and 23rd overall NCAA appearance. They will head to South Bend, Ind., May 10-11 for the first and second rounds. The Rebels will face Northwestern in the first round Saturday at 10 a.m. CT. The winner of that match will meet the winner of the match between Notre Dame/Wisconsin-Green Bay, Sunday at 1 p.m. for the right to advance to the sweet 16.
- Ole Miss is 2-0 all-time against Northwestern. In their last meeting (2007), the Rebels defeated the Wildcats 5-2 in Evanston, Ill. This will be the first meeting in the NCAA Championships.
- This marks the second time for the Rebels to begin NCAA play in South Bend.  The last time they did so (1995), the Rebels advanced to the championship match in Athens, Ga., site of this year's sweet 16.
- Junior Nik Scholtz earned the SEC's automatic bid to the NCAA Singles Championship, and is seeded Nos. 9-16. It marks the third consecutive year for him to be seeded. The NCAA Singles Championship begins May 21, following the conclusion of the team championships.

Women's Tennis
- The Rebels earned their sixth consecutive, and 17th overall, NCAA bid. They will head to Los Angeles to take on Texas Tech in the first round, Friday at 12 p.m. CT. The winner of that match will meet the winner of UCLA/Sacramento State in the second round Saturday at 5 p.m. CT.
- The Lady Raiders and Rebels have met three times, with Ole Miss leading the series 2-1. Last season, Texas Tech hosted Ole Miss in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Championships, but the two did not meet.
- Ole Miss is one of 40 teams in Division I tennis to have both its men's and women's tennis teams in the NCAA Championships. This is the sixth consecutive year both Rebel teams have made it in the same year.

Women's Golf
- Sophomore Abby Newton was selected to compete as an individual in the 2014 NCAA East Regional in Tallahassee, Fla., May 8-10. Newton was one of 18 individuals selected to compete.
- This marks the seventh consecutive year Ole Miss will be represented at the NCAA Championships.

Softball
- Ole Miss concluded its season last weekend in Knoxville, Tenn., against the then-No. 8 Tennessee Lady Vols.
- Ole Miss jumped out to early leads in games one and two against the Lady Vols, but could not close out the Lady Vols in either game. The Rebels dropped the series and season finale Sunday, allowing just two runs and one hit in innings 2-6 after giving up three runs in the bottom of the first.
- The 2014 Rebels (22-31, 3-21 SEC) set team program records in hits (396), RBI (217), walks (150), and tied the program record with five saves. It's the third straight year Ole Miss has increased its season hit total.
- Individually, junior Allison Brown and senior RT Cantillo each logged 11-game hitting streaks, which tie the school's third longest streak. Cantillo, who was drafted in the fifth round of the National Pro Fastpitch College Draft by the Chicago Bandits, finished the 2014 season with the second best single-season batting average in program history (.424), the fourth most hits (61), tied the fifth most runs scored (35), tied the fourth most walks (30), tied the 10th best slugging percentage (.556) and logged the third best on-base percentage (.522). Brown's 12 doubles in 2014 are tied for the sixth most in single-season history behind the 17 she hit as a sophomore in 2013. Senior Londen Ladner tied the single season record for the ninth most home runs (seven) and also tied the mark for the seventh most RBIs (34).
- Ole Miss is graduating six seniors in Cantillo, Shelby Jo Fenter, Carly Hummel, Ladner, Natalie Nimmo and Marina Parra.

Toughness has been a mantra for Ole Miss baseball from day one, and it shined through once again Saturday, as the Rebels erased an early 4-0 deficit to clinch the weekend series against Arkansas.

Arkansas strung together six straight singles to take a 4-0 lead in the first, but Ole Miss answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. From there, Christian Trent and the bullpen put up eight straight zeroes, as the Rebels came back to win by a score of 7-4.

"We were being aggressive and getting some good swings off," said Will Allen, who went 3-for-4 for the game. "That's huge after their four-run first to come back and put three runs up. It put us in a good position for the rest of the game. It took some of that momentum that they had, and we took it into our dugout and kept it for the most part of the game."

After the first inning, Trent worked a perfect second, fourth and fifth innings, as he allowed just three base runners the rest of the game. He left in the sixth, having allowed four runs -- all earned -- on nine hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

"In the first inning, when you look at what they did offensively, they square up some ball, but a couple of balls found holes," assistant coach Carl Lafferty said. "The thing that I was proud of Christian about is, to really mature in this league and be a quality starter, you're going to have innings like that, where it doesn't go your way. The difference for guys who are really elite in this league, they are the ones who can come up and do what Christian did and put up four more zeroes and keep us in the game and allow our offense to answer, which it has done all year."

"They were hitting everything I was throwing," said Trent of the first inning. "I gave up a couple of hits that were bad pitches, but really, they came out swinging. I was throwing pretty decent pitches, and they were just hitting them. I had to finish the game like I did and not let them score any more runs."

Ole Miss took the lead in the fourth behind five straight singles, including bunt singles by Errol Robinson, Preston Overbey and Braxton Lee. J.B. Woodman delivered the big hit of the inning with an RBI single up the middle, and heads-up base running allowed Robinson to score a second run on the play.

The Rebels added another run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Austion Bousfield, and then Sikes Orvis hit a solo shot in the fifth, his team-leading 12th home run of the season, to extend the lead to 7-4. On the mound, Scott Weathersby, Wyatt Short and Josh Laxer closed things out, as they combined to allow three hits with one walk and three strikeouts in four scoreless innings of relief.

"It's been a mantra this whole year," Lafferty said. "They don't flinch. They keep doing what they're doing and stick with the game plan. It's like, 'Let's just play.' We feel like we can score runs, we feel like we have a pitching staff that can hold them down. It was early in the ball game, but for the offense to come back and answer back in the bottom of the first, that's huge, especially for Christian and the rest of the pitching staff. We never feel like we are out of a game, and certainly that was the case today."

With the win, Ole Miss maintains sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division with a 15-8 SEC record, 1.5 games ahead of LSU (13-9-1) and 2 games ahead of Alabama (13-10). Florida remains in first place in the SEC overall standings with a 17-6 SEC record.

"We urged our team that you can't scoreboard watch," Lafferty said. "You can't worry about what other teams are doing and who's playing and who's losing. You have to control your own destiny. We don't know if tomorrow is going to be the game that wins us the Southeastern Conference, so the focus is the same."


 

In the preseason, Mike Bianco said Aaron Greenwood could be their best guy out of the bullpen, the guy who can come in at any point and finish the game, similar to Jake Morgan and Scott Bittle from past Ole Miss teams. 

Greenwood did just that, as he earned his second save of the season with three perfect innings of relief to close out to a 3-2 win in the series opener Friday night against Arkansas.

"If you remember back before the season started, when we talked about who the closer was, we said we didn't really have one right now, but Greenwood can be that guy who can come into this type of game and get you nine outs," Bianco said. "He can come in and not be just the ninth-inning guy. We laughed, Aaron and I, that we didn't know it was going to take until May 2 for that to happen."

Greenwood had posted a scoreless innings streak of 19-plus innings, capped by a career-long 4.2 scoreless innings in an 8-5 win over Auburn before he suffered an abdominal injury. In his first outing back, this past Sunday, he allowed two runs -- one earned -- on three hits in 2.1 innings of relief in a 9-6 win over Kentucky.

After Friday's dominant performance, he said he's feeling back to his old self.

"I'm really close (to 100 percent)," Greenwood said. "Last weekend was a little shaky. I performed well thankfully. This weekend, it felt great to be back out there. I keep getting better every single day."

Ole Miss took a 3-0 lead with a run in the third and two in the fourth before Arkansas had its first of two rallies, in the fifth. The Razorbacks cut the lead to 3-2 with a two-out, 2-RBI triple from Tyler Spoon. After a hit by pitch and walk to load the bases for Arkansas, Chris Ellis got out of it with a groundout to third.

Arkansas threatened again with an error and walk to lead off the sixth. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, Ellis got a strikeout and shallow fly out to right to strand two more runners.

Ellis, who recorded his fourth straight quality start, allowed two runs -- both earned -- on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts, as he stranded seven Arkansas runners on base. It was fifth straight start to allow two earned runs or fewer.

"My command was not exactly there, but I worked out of it and made pitches when I needed to," Ellis said. "We got hits when we needed to, and certainly Greenwood came in and dominated in the last three innings."

From there, it was all Greenwood. He worked a perfect seventh, eight and ninth, retiring all nine Arkansas batters in order, including four strikeouts. Josh Laxer and Wyatt Short warmed up in the bullpen, but Bianco stayed with Greenwood for the ninth, and he delivered.

"We had those guys ready," Bianco said. "We got them warmed up. When (Greenwood) went in for the seventh, we weren't sure if he could get to the ninth. When he threw at Kentucky, he hadn't pitched, and he got really tired. We weren't sure. We had those guys up and ready to go, but with the way he pitched in seventh and eighth and it looked the ball had a lot of zip on it and it looked like he had all four pitches, he had to do it."

"After the eighth, Coach B came up to me and said, 'You feel good enough to finish?' I said, 'For sure. Yes sir,'" Greenwood said. "(Out there the ninth), it's great because you're out there in front of all these fans -- 9,000 tonight -- and your adrenaline starts pumping. You can tell I was a little wild for a little bit, but I calmed myself back down and made some pitches."


 

Chadwick's Top Moments: No. 8

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chadwick500.jpgSwitching gears to 2006, we recognize a duo of major accomplishments from Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick.  On March 22 of the 2006 season, Chadwick notched his 500th career win as a head coach, defeating Memphis in Oxford 7-0.  The 500th win includes 107 victories as the women's head coach in which Chadwick was in charge from 1979-1986.

Additionally, in the summer of 2006, Chadwick was recognized for his impact on the game of tennis as a coach and player, as well as his consistency and longevity of success.  In July of 2006, Chadwick was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, becoming only the eighth tennis inductee.  Chadwick added this award to his list of accomplishments, including two-time SEC Coach of the Year.  

In 2006, the Rebels enjoyed yet another successful season.  The Rebs earned their fifth straight SEC West title by defeating Mississippi State 4-3, along with the program's 11th trip to the "Sweet Sixteen."  Ole Miss hosted a regional for the sixth time in seven years, and defeated No. 17 Florida State 4-2 in the Oxford regional sending the Rebels to Palo Alto, California, where they would fall to No. 3 Texas.  At the conclusion of the 2006 season, Chadwick and the Rebels boasted a 24-1 record against SEC West opponents since the league split in 2002.

The Rebels would finish the season 22-6 (8-3 SEC), the eighth 20-win season in program history, and ranked No. 13 in the final national rankings.  The Rebels were paced by All-Americans Erling Tveit and Eric Claesson.

Next week, we near the top five moments of the countdown as we close in on Billy Chadwick's legendary run as Rebel head coach.  Stay tuned to see the latest and greatest from Chadwick and the Ole Miss tennis program.

Follow the Rebels on Twitter, @OleMissMTennis and on Facebook at OleMissMTennis.

Special assistance from Media Relations student assistant Wesley Boock.
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Above are two completed image outside and inside the Manning Center. Inside the full gallery are images from some of the construction centered around the Manning Center, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, and the new basketball arena at the University of Mississippi. Older images are from the 2012-2013 season. Construction images are from July 1, 2013 to today, and the completed images come from the 2013-2014 season. Currently, construction is underway for the new parking garage and new basketball arena. To learn more about concepts and ways to get involved, please visit http://forwardtogetherrebels.com/site


Here's the link to the full photo gallery

Here's what two NFL Draft analysts had to say about former Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief one week from the start of the 2014 NFL Draft, set for May 8-10.

ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper, who previously slotted Moncrief to the Indianapolis Colts with 59th overall pick in his "Grade A" draft and previously projected him to the San Diego Chargers with the 57th overall pick in his "Mock Draft 4.0" mentioned Moncrief as one of the 24 biggest "freaks" in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Here's what Kiper had to say about Moncrief:

His route running needs work, but there's nothing more Moncrief can show as an athlete after running 4.40 and leaping 39.5 inches in the vertical, and he put up those numbers as a 6-2 wide receiver weighing in at 221 pounds. It's hard not to bet high on that workout.

For ESPN Insider subscribers, here's the link to the full article, "Biggest 'freaks' in 2014 NFL draft"

Kiper and fellow ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Todd McShay played general manager and went through a three-round mock draft Thursday night. Kiper selected Moncrief for the Minnesota Vikings with a third-round pick (72nd overall).

Here's what Kiper had to say about the pick: 

At this point, the Vikings have addressed a need at QB (Bortles) and in coverage (Joyner), and Moncrief is one of the best athletes in the entire draft, with legit 4.4 speed and great leaping ability in a 6-2, 220-pound frame.

For ESPN Insider subscribers, here's the link to the full article, "Head-to-head: Three-round mock"

NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock held a two-hour conference call Thursday with reporters. Mayock will unveil his first -- and only -- mock draft in a one-hour special, "Mayock's 2014 Mock Draft, on Wednesday, May 7 at 8 p.m. CT on NFL Network.

Here's what Mayock had to say about Moncrief:

Moncrief is a guy who drops the ball too much and double-catches it a little too much. When I see a wide receiver with drops and double-catches, I get nervous. He has to convince team that he can be a consistent catcher of the football. He's a little bit straight-line fast. He has to learn how to run routes. 

I have him late third round. The West Coast teams will like him because he can be a big, possession-type receiver who can run the slant and throw it into his body. Any of those type of teams that focus on West Coast offense would make a ton of sense for him. I'm hoping that his best football is ahead of him, and he can continue to develop the craft of playing wide receiver.

Here's the link to the full Mike Mayock Draft Conference Call


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