The Origin Of The Nasty Wide Out Belt
Oct. 31, 2017
By Brian Scott Rippee, OleMissSports.com
It’s the emblem of the heart of the Ole Miss offense. A moniker that represents the identity of the nation’s best receiving corps. A full-sized heavyweight wrestling belt that reads “NWO” with Nasty Wideouts Engraved below.
The idea came from wide receivers coach Jacob Peeler, who wanted a tangible way to motivate his players in a year of college football where props have become the new craze on the sidelines. The inspiration came from the New World Order wrestling stable headlined by Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in the late 90’s. Peeler grew up a wrestling fan and saw this as a nice mesh.
“I kind of put my own swing on it with the Nasty Wide Outs,” Peeler said. “I just wanted to have something that these guys can compete for every week. That way on the sidelines they can get it and it be just kind of our own little fraternity within the time. The guys have really bought into it and had fun with it.”
Given that Ole Miss is eighth nationally in passing offense at just over 330 yards per game, and the fact that A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge rank in the top 16 in the nation in touchdown receptions with six each, the competition to attain the coveted belt is fierce.
An equipment manager holds it on the sidelines, waiting for one of the receivers to make a play and come snag the belt in celebration. It has become the identity of the Ole Miss’ most dominant position group.
“We call ourselves the nasty wideouts so we break it down to ‘N-W-O’ EVERY TIME,” D.K. Metcalf said. “We know were are going to go out there and dominate. We have a mindset that we are going to win every rep.”
It can be based on game performance, practice consistency or a test Peeler gives them from time to time. Sometimes, the belt is wagered over something as simple as a paper football game or a video game. The idea is he wants them competing all the time.
“I went and thought about what it wanted to say with our slogan and everything,” Peeler said. “It is heavy. It is a legitimate belt. It is kind of the fun because those guys really have fun with it walking through the grove.”
This receiving corps is immensely talented and also very diverse. Between Brown, Lodge, Metcalf and Van Jefferson there are a lot of different things offensive coordinator Phil Longo can do with the football given their varying skill sets.
“I’m big and physical. A.J. is big and physical.,” Metcalf said. “Van is shifty and runs really nice routes. Lodge is a speed demon down the field. We have a lot of different talents in that receivers room.”
Their physical makeup is also different, which makes it even more difficult for opposing defense to try to match up with them.
“They are not all cookie cutter copies over each other,” Peeler said. “I think when you are looking at a receiving corps, that is why we moved A.J. inside and with Van being able to do both and D.K. and Lodge being on the perimeter, we finally found our perfect match. We can get mismatches all over the field. If they try to take away one person here, we have answers here.”
As physically gifted as they are, they also have an advantage mentally. There is a subtle confidence among this unit. One that grows with each record they break and 100-yard game they compile.
“We know we are the best wide receivers in the country.” Metcalf said. “We put in the work for it to show on Saturdays.”
With so many options to go to, the one of them more pressing questions going into the season was wondering whether there would be enough footballs to be distributed among them.
“When you have that even displacement of a balls, everyone is getting a touch of it,” Peeler said. “I think that builds more of that confidence that the ball may come to you on this play. It may not, but you always need to be ready for it.”
To Peeler, the most exciting part of the talent he is currently surrounded with is their age. Lodge is the lone junior with Brown and Jefferson being sophomores. Metcalf took a red shirt after a foot injury a year ago and is still a freshman. Peeler doesn’t think the group has come close to reaching their celing yet.
“We are still breaking some bad habits and some tendencies,” Peeler said.” They are eager. I will say that. They come to work every day. You don’t have to prod them too much. They come ready to work every day.”
The talent is undeniable, however. It shows every time one of them leaps into the air to make a grab.
“I have been fortunate enough in my career to work with some talented offenses and outstanding skill players,” Peeler said. “I would say this has a chance, being six games in, it is to the point where I feel like they are close. I don’t want to crown them yet but they are up there with some of the other guys I have had the opportunity to coach.”
They hold one another to a standard in practice. A drop by anyone results in 10 push ups for the group. They don’t take a knee at any point in practice. The coach one another up in practice on route running and the best ways to high point a ball.
“We hold each other accountable,” Metcalf said. “We know what is expected of us.”
It is quite the sight for Peeler to see underclassmen with the maturity this unit has shown. Seeing the guys go to each other for advice and holding each other accountable is what will take this group from good to great.
“When you start getting to the point where guys are coaching each other up,vthe sky becomes the limit,” Peeler said. “I always use that analogy but it really is. Their ceiling is so high. We aren’t even there yet.”
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