June 23, 2006
University, MS (CSTV U-WIRE) -- The hottest battle in August could be the fight for the starting wide receiver jobs.
The position is the biggest question mark for Ole Miss after graduating Taye Biddle, Mike Espy and Mario Hill. Redshirt freshman Marshay Green ended up as the starter at flanker after spring drills, while sophomore Burnell Wallace is tops at split end.
For now Wallace is doing what he can to stay at the top of the depth chart.
"Well, [I'm] just catching the ball and trying to get my condition up and get ready for the opening of camp," Wallace said.
For Wallace, it's not just about the competition. He realizes it's going to take several players to contribute at wide receiver and has taken some of the younger guys under his wing.
"We got some new people in and we're just trying to watch film and get better," Wallace said. "It's not like I'm an old person, but I'm older than them, so I try to teach them what I know."
One of the younger guys who will push for playing time is new signee Allen Walker from Olive Branch.
At 6-foot, 2-inches and 205 lbs, Walker was considered one the top athletes in the country. Although Allen was projected by many at safety, Orgeron believes he can be a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball.
"Allen Walker was one of the top safeties in America," Orgeron said in February. "We went and watched him, [and] we liked him at receiver."
The most veteran wideout on the team is junior Carlos Suggs. He is the only receiver on the roster to catch a pass in a game, but that was for no yards.
Suggs flashed his ability in the Red-Blue game by hauling in a 56-yard touchdown reception. However, since then he has been hampered by a pulled groin.
"I haven't talked to him since right before he had surgery," Wallace said. "But he told me he expects to be back for camp, so hopefully he'll be back."
Senior Keith Houston will also fight for playing time after switching from tight end to receiver late in the season last year.
Part of Wallace's motivation to help the younger guys learn the offense better is to make his life easier at practice.
With Orgeron's fast-tempo practices, everyone is expected to know their job. If no one else knows what they are doing, Wallace can expect to become exhausted taking all the reps.
"We do need some more receivers," Wallace said.
"I'll go a lot of plays, and it's not an excuse, but I'll get tired. So we do need guys to come in and play."
Wallace admits there are still some things he needs to learn about the offense.
"I'm right about 80 percent to where I wanna be. I need to learn every position. I know what I'm supposed to do, but I need to learn every position so I know what's going on around me."
One thing Wallace noticed about the new offense is that the tight end has a bigger role.
"The tight end gets the ball all the time," Wallace said. "The wide receivers get the ball too, but the tight end gets the ball the most."
New offensive coordinator Dan Werner built a reputation of producing great tight ends at Miami, and Robert Lane showed enough last year to be the clear front runner at tight end going into camp. But in the wide-open receiver competition, Wallace has his preseason goals in mind.
"Stay at the top of the charts," Wallace said. "Teach these guys that just came in what's going on."
(C) 2006 Daily Mississippian via CSTV U-WIRE