Shay Hodge left Ole Miss second in career receptions and touchdowns and first in yards.
As he remains tuned in to what Ole Miss receivers are doing, he’s impressed with what he sees.
“I think we are very loaded. Coach (Hugh) Freeze is really stock-piling talent over there with (Laquon) Treadwell and other guys coming back. I’m very high on Quincy (Adeboyejo). He’s going to be one of the good ones to come through.”
That praise extends to the newcomers.
“Then we sign a guy like Markell Pack. I don’t know if Sammie Epps is going to play tight end or receiver. I’ve seen some film where he can play receiver. There are other guys I’m not mentioning, but overall I think the group is very talented, and they’re going to do big things.”
Hodge, living in Morton now, remains an advocate for Ole Miss and not just in word. He’s really impressed with Pack.
“I’m like a coach over here. I recruit on my own, just watching film. I’ve watched Markell. He’s nice. He’s got a nice body build at 6-2. He’s going to pack on some pounds and get a little bit bigger. I like his athleticism. I think he can come in and play right away, get some playing time or even a starting spot.
I think I’m good at talent evaluation in my opinion and can kind of tell who’s going to play early and who’s not because I went through it. I’m really high on Markell, his athleticism, his hands and what he can bring to the table.”
Pack, like all freshmen, face a new challenge to compete for playing time.
“Oh it’s very difficult. It takes a special human being to do that. What Treadwell was able to do, that’s very hard. You learn that everyone’s on the same playing field when you get there. Everyone’s talented. He’s going to have to learn a work ethic, because in high school you’re the best guy. You don’t really have to do much. You don’t have to be the first in line running.
“He’s going to have to find a guy that’s exemplary to follow.”
Hodge said he learned his work ethic from watching another freshman in his class, Dexter McCluster.
“Dexter had great work ethic. I came to college, and I really didn’t have a work ethic. I thought I was fast and big, a big-time guy. I got there and I was one of the slowest guys. I basically had to learn how to handle each situation when things weren’t going your way like in high school.
Learning the playbook will be a challenge too.
“Those plays were long! It was like a sentence in the huddle,” Hodge said.
The huddles are fewer these days, but there’s that rule change proposal on the table, and you don’t know exactly what that will mean for tempo offenses.
That’s probably not a thought Pack’s spending much time with right now as he faces the many challenges brought on by moving from high school to college.
He does, however, have a big fan in Hodge.
“I think he can come in and play right away.