With 4.42 speed that translates from the gridiron to the baseball field, John Rhys Plumlee has captured the undivided attention of Rebel fans in just three games.
Ever since bursting onto the scene in Ole Miss’ narrow defeat versus California, John Rhys Plumlee has caught the attention of the Rebels fanbase. Plumlee followed up the Cal game with a string of impressive performances against Alabama, Vanderbilt and Missouri, further igniting the hype surrounding him.
The true freshman is the first Ole Miss quarterback to rush for 100 yards or more in three straight games, and he has rushed for more yards than any freshman quarterback in program history in just three games.
It’s no surprise that Plumlee has spurred so much excitement surrounding Ole Miss football. As a four-star recruit coming out of Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Plumlee’s dual-threat ability and 4.42 40-yard-dash time impressed more than just Ole Miss in the college football and baseball landscape.
Plumlee originally narrowed down his options to the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Georgia Bulldogs. And, following the appointment of Phil Longo — the former Ole Miss offensive coordinator — as the Tar Heels’ new offensive coordinator, Plumlee decided to commit to Georgia. Longo preferred Plumlee to play slot receiver or defensive back instead of quarterback if Plumlee joined his program.
So it was decided; Plumlee would commit to Georgia at the end of his senior year. However, as early signing period approached for high school seniors, Georgia told Plumlee he would be blue-shirted during the summer, meaning he would not be given a scholarship for football until the fall semester.
Plumlee began to question how much of a priority he would be in Georgia’s program, and he decided to reassess his options. At this time, Ole Miss’ new offensive coordinator, Rich Rodriguez, was hired and assured Plumlee that he would be classified as a quarterback and a priority in the Ole Miss program. Plumlee then made the decision to reopen his recruitment and commit to Ole Miss over Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida State.
“I think it was really neat that God closed the door there. Then Rich Rod comes in, and I fit his offense pretty well,” he said. “I think he closed doors and opened doors that were supposed to be closed and opened… I’m really thankful that God put me here.”
Plumlee’s excellence during Matt Corral’s recovery has been the story of the season for a team that hasn’t settled on one quarterback eight weeks into the season. Against Missouri, a healthy Matt Corral and Plumlee shared time in the backfield, with Plumlee being the chief runner and Corral the chief passer. The debate as to which quarterback should operate the Rich Rodriguez offense wages on, but Plumlee says the dynamic in the locker room is the same as it was before Corral’s injury.
“Sometimes as competitors, you get selfish, but we have a really cool quarterback room in the fact that we all are competitors, yet we all are in each other’s corner,” Plumlee said. “That’s really special I think. He’s supported me through it all, and I supported him when he’s in there and Grant (Tisdale) when he gets his shot in practice, he does a great job, too. We just try to have fun with it.”
As Plumlee continues to succeed with his feet, holding the lion’s share of the carries for Ole Miss since he took over as the starter, fans suggest Plumlee would be more effective as a running back or slot with Corral behind center.
“I think it’s a compliment… They see me as an athlete, and I think that’s really neat because I don’t think a lot of quarterbacks can run. I think I add that dynamic,” Plumlee said. “To them, I would say that sounds smart, but in my eyes, I want to be a quarterback.”
Plumlee has emerged and captured the hearts of the Ole Miss fans, showing dazzling speed that can translate from the gridiron to the baseball diamond, but it’s his raw leadership that has propelled No. 10 to his wonder kid status on campus. The true freshman said that no matter what happens, he plans to play both football and baseball for the Rebels this year.
“I don’t know what I would do if I just played football or just played baseball. I think I’d miss the other one too much,” Plumlee said. “On the football field and baseball field, I bring a lot of energy. That’s just kind of how I am. I like to have fun, I like to win. I think when guys are around you that want to win, everybody gets on the same boat.”