April 14, 2008

Wild Rebel makes impression on local star

Ole Miss didn't have a lot to say a lot to Montez Phillips on Saturday during the Oxford (Lafayette County), Miss., wide receiver's visit to campus.

The Rebels' staff simply made sure he had a seat inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for Saturday's annual Grove Bowl game and instructed him to watch No. 22 for the Blue team.

Phillips did just that, and when he watched Ole Miss wide receiver Dexter McCluster catch eight passes, take a couple of handoffs from quarterback Jevan Snead and then line up as the quarterback in the Wild Rebel formation, Phillips just might have gotten a glimpse of his future.

"I talked to (Ole Miss offensive coordinator Kent Austin)," Phillips said. "He told me that the way they are using (McCluster) is the way I would be used if I go there."

Phillips, a 6-foot-3, 190-pounder who rushed 132 times for 834 yards and 7 touchdowns while completing 68 of 136 passes for 958 yards and 9 touchdowns for the Commodores last season, has offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi. While he had once listed Mississippi State as a favorite for his signature, Phillips said Saturday's unofficial visit to Ole Miss changed that.

"It's still down the middle," Phillips said. "I like the Wild Rebel formation. That's basically the way I'm used at Lafayette."

Phillips has already been on an unofficial visit to Mississippi State, and he said Starkville was "fun. It had a great atmosphere."

However, Phillips said Sunday night he will "probably" end up at Ole Miss. "I kind of want to stay home where my friends and family can see me and I kind of want to get out of Oxford. It's a little bit of both."

One advantage Ole Miss has is Phillips' appreciation for the Rebels' new staff. He got a chance to visit with new Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt and he liked the change of atmosphere in Oxford.

"He seems cool to me," Phillips said. "They're all laid back, just like the staff at State."

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