July 5, 2006
University, MS (CSTV U-WIRE) -- Next time you are at the gas station, go check out the back of the week-old milk carton sitting in the fridge. You'll likely find Brent Schaeffer's mug and the message: "Missing: Ole Miss' starting quarterback."
The 6-foot-2-inch, 195 lbs., signal caller was last seen slicing up the JUCO ranks and sporting an ear-to-ear grin after pledging his services to the Rebels.
If you know of his whereabouts, or if he'll be under center when Memphis comes to town, please contact the Ole Miss athletic department -- now.
Head coach Ed Orgeron has to be scratching his head after he confirmed last week on a Jackson radio station that Schaeffer's much anticipated arrival to Oxford will be delayed once again to the end of this month.
The former freshman phenom is back in Florida completing his junior college online coursework; he must finish six hours of correspondence courses before he can enroll at Ole Miss.
So now the topic that is on every Rebel fan's tongue is the fate of Schaeffer, and I don't blame them.
Though he is the type of athlete that means the difference between two or three wins, he needs to be here for the betterment of the team.
And I don't care if he's had the playbook for the past five months and even if he has daily conference calls with offensive coordinator Dan Werner.
For every day he is not in Oxford, that is one less day he has real-time involvement with the offense during the voluntary workouts of the summer. That is a big deal when the wide receivers, who are young anyway, need to develop a rapport with Schaeffer and get acclimated to his timing. He also needs to get a feel for the rebuilt offensive line.
After the past two years of inconsistency at quarterback, the Rebels need a leader at the position.
In both 2004 and 2005, the team couldn't rally behind one player, whether that player could win games or was asked not to lose them. Schaeffer is the guy the team is looking for.
And if for some reason Schaeffer doesn't make it, Seth Adams is second in line, as of now.
Despite the walk-on's good numbers at the Red-Blue game and plenty of reps in the spring, the downfall with Adams, who comes to Ole Miss via Hinds Community College after a stint at Delta State, may be his lack of ability to man a Southeastern Conference squad through a tough 12-game schedule.
Following Adams, the inexperience factor grows even more. Redshirt freshman Billy Tapp, ex-minor leaguer turned walk-on Cliff Davis and true freshman Michael Herrick round out the depth chart. Scary stuff if you're trying to navigate through the SEC and secure a bowl game.
But for all this concern over Schaeffer, Orgeron deserves some of the blame for the situation for counting his egg before it hatched.
It all started on Signing Day when the head coach, fresh off of inking some of the best in the nation, showed all of his cards.
"The key to our recruiting class was Brent Schaeffer," Orgeron said.
"He saw what we had to offer at Ole Miss. He is going to be our quarterback. There will be no quarterback controversy."
Well that settled that. But then he continued with "all junior college signees have to wait to graduate, and Brent is going to graduate in May," and the final gem -- "we plan on Brent being on campus in June with the rest of our signing class."
May turned into June, which turned into July. And so the Rebels sit...without their starting quarterback.
You really can't blame Orgeron though for hyping him up. It was well justified.
While splitting time at Tennessee with Erik Ainge, Schaeffer finished his injury-shortened season completing 18 of 37 passes for 302 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
He also had 66 yards rushing on 33 carries. Then, at The College of Sequoias this past fall, he put on a clinic. He threw for a little under 3,000 yards with 40 touchdowns and just six picks, while also rushing for 854 yards and 12 scores.
Also at the Signing Day press conference, Orgeron was asked if his newly minted starter would get a crash course when he gets on campus. "Yes," the coach said bluntly. If he only knew what would play out.
Schaeffer needs to get here and quick, because if he doesn't the 2006 season could turn out like week old milk -- sour.
(C) 2006 Daily Mississippian via CSTV U-WIRE