Hornsby's future at Ole Miss still in limbo

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said Wednesday that the status of signee Jamar Hornsby, who's had a history of legal trouble, remains in limbo.

"I'm still gathering facts. I don't know everything yet," said Nutt, whose Rebels begin spring practice on Friday. "There's still a court date out there."

Hornsby, who's attending East Mississippi Community College, was arrested earlier this month and charged with felony aggravated assault and petit larceny. A man said Hornsby assaulted him with brass knuckles at a McDonalds' drive-thru in Starkville, Miss.

Hornsby was already on probation after taking a plea in a misdemeanor credit card fraud case. He was kicked off the Florida team prior to the 2007 season after being arrested and charged with making 70 fraudulent credit card charges. The card belonged to the girlfriend of Hornsby's then-Florida teammate, Joe Haden. She had been killed in a motorcycle accident six months earlier.

Nutt said he wished Hornsby, a defensive back, had been on Ole Miss' campus the last few months like some of the signees who enrolled early.

"You've got those guys under your roof," Nutt said. "They're in your family. You've got your eyes on them 24-7 for the most part."

In other news, Nutt said the number of players the Rebels signed in February -- 38 -- was deceiving. Only 25 are allowed to be placed on scholarship this fall, but Nutt predicted that the numbers would work out just fine.

"You've got about seven guys which we knew for sure weren't going to make it academically," Nutt said. "But they love Ole Miss, and what we were doing was helping out the Mississippi junior colleges. We're going to place them in those schools. So, really, you're down to about 27.

"You've got to do the math right."

As it stands right now, Nutt said the Rebels are only two over the 25 limit.

"Just take my word for it. It's going good," said Nutt, adding that he would probably never sign as many as 38 in a class again. "We're in good shape."

Nutt said one of his biggest concerns entering the spring was the left side of the offensive line, especially with left tackle Michael Oher gone. Sophomore Bradley Sowell, used as a blocking tight end last season, will get first crack at left tackle, and sophomore Rishaw Johnson moves in at right guard.

"It's a concern, not because they don't want to, but because they haven't played ... and then the depth," Nutt said. "That's why it was important to get an Emmanuel McCray, Michael Brown, Bobby Massie, A.J. Hawkins and a Logan Clair. You had to have that group, because they're going to be involved in the depth."

With some people picking the Rebels in the top 10 for next season, Nutt said the coaches' antennas have been up all offseason.

He said his message to the team has been simple: "You're on the radar. This time last year, you were not. You could sneak into the Swamp, get a victory and get out. But you can't this year. You've got to work harder. You think you're working hard? You've got to work harder."

Defensive end Greg Hardy is in a walking boot and still recovering from his foot surgery, but Nutt said Hardy has been to all of the 5:30 a.m. runs with the rest of his teammates.

"He's made every meeting. I've been very proud of his attitude," Nutt said. "It's the best I've ever seen it."