Both were standout high school quarterbacks in Tennessee in 2009, but they each took a roundabout way to end up at Ole Miss where they are battling for the starting quarterback job.
Wallace, originally from Pulaski, Tenn., signed with Arkansas State out of high school in 2010. His coach there was none other than current Rebels coach Hugh Freeze. Wallace rode the bench as a redshirt in 2010 before deciding to go a different direction after a somewhat bumpy year under Freeze.
“That (year) had some rocky points in it, but I don't think it ever got to the point where we didn't care for one another or share the same aspirations,” Freeze said. “His leaving was his choice, and I understood it. We didn't want him to.”
Wallace transferred to East Mississippi Community College, a place where he would flourish as a quarterback. He led his team to an NJCAA championship and set records in passing yards (4,604) and touchdown passes (53). After receiving multiple offers after his record-setting year, Wallace decided to reunite with Freeze at Ole Miss.
“It obviously benefitted him greatly,” Freeze said. “He had numerous offers after the remarkable year he had. I think he also matured as a person.”
Brunetti took a winding road as well. Originally a highly sought-after prospect out of Memphis, he turned down offers from Tennessee , Mississippi State, Penn State and others to go play in West Virginia's spread offense. After one year as the backup for the Mountaineers in 2010, he transferred to Ole Miss to be closer to his mother who had been injured in a car wreck in Memphis. He was awarded a waiver for immediate eligibility by the NCAA and saw limited action for the Rebels in 2011, completing 19 of 35 passes for 144 yards and rushing for 110 yards on 33 carries.
After going through long journeys to make it to Ole Miss, Wallace and Brunetti now enter the 2012 season deadlocked as co-starters. Fall camp is where they will get to show off how they are different.
Wallace is the classic, 6-foot-5, pro-style quarterback with a strong and accurate arm. Brunetti is undersized at 6-foot, but is a dual-threat who also has more FBS experience than Wallace. Not even Freeze is sure how to handicap the race yet.
“I think Barry has some talents, some strengths that maybe Bo doesn't have and vice versa,” he said. “Which one is going to be best for our football team? I'm not quite sure yet. They're both going to be in the mix.”
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