|Nickolas Brassell is on his way to rejoining the Ole Miss roster. (US Presswire)|
There weren't many bright spots for Ole Miss in its 2-10 dud of a 2011 season, but one of them was the play of true freshman wide receiver/cornerback Nickolas Brassell. An eye-popping athlete who finished second on the team in both catches (24) and receiving yards (336), Brassell also saw regular time at cornerback, starting one game and finishing with 14 tackles and five pass break-ups.
Unfortunately for Rebels fans hoping to see even bigger things from Brassell in his sophomore season, his efforts off-the-field didn't match those on it. He was forced to leave the team because of academics in May, landing at East Mississippi Community College, where he caught 36 passes for 472 yards while Hugh Freeze was leading the Rebels to their first bowl berth in three seasons.
After just that one JUCO season, though, Brassell is back on his way toward making Rebels fans happy again. The Clarion-Ledger reported Tuesday that Brassell posted a 4.0 GPA during summer semester at EMCC, has been readmitted to Ole Miss for the spring semester, and is on track to be eligible for the Rebels next fall.
“He came in and took care of what he had to do,” said Marcus Wood, EMCC's offensive coordinator. “It really says a lot about his resolve to handle a setback and bounce back the way he did ... That was his whole purpose -- to get eligible. He stayed true to what he needed to do.”
Brassell's return would give Freeze's already-potent offense yet another weapon to work with alongside breakout 2012 receiving star Donte Moncrief, Vince Sanders and Ja-Mes Logan, all of whom finished with 30 or more catches and 450 or more receiving yards. If Freeze decides Brassell is better used on defense, he could wind up there, too. (The Rebels secondary might be even more loaded than the receiving corps, though -- all four starters and the nickelback return.)
It's worth pointing out that Brassell isn't a lock to return to the field for Ole Miss in fall 2013 -- he must still remain academically eligible through spring and summer semesters in Oxford and stay out of other trouble. But after buckling down at EMCC, that return looks likely, and given his immense potential, it shapes up a huge boost to a program that already looks to be on its way up.