Ole Miss linebacker Mike Marry joked last week at SEC media days that the fans he bumps into around town might be more excited about the start of the 2013 season than even the players.
Make no mistake: The Rebels' players can't wait to dive into Year No. 2 under Hugh Freeze.
But there's a buzz around the program right now, fueled by last season's 7-6 finish and top 10 recruiting class nationally, that will undoubtedly create some unrealistic expectations this season.
Freeze is as excited as anybody about the future. He just wants to make sure everybody is on board for the long haul.
"Regardless of what anybody's expectations are for Year 2, if we are going to get the program where we all say we want to go, the goal should be to maintain our level of enthusiasm, passion and positive attitude toward the program so we can continue to build and become relevant every year in recruiting," Freeze said. "The minute all you care about is the singular expectations that you decide, and it doesn't happen, frustration will set in.
"I'm asking everyone, players and everyone, to see this through long term, and let's keep that same enthusiasm in Year 2 of this journey with what are still a bunch of young kids."
Freeze said several freshmen in the Rebels' touted 2013 class won't have to wait long to see the field. He said guys like defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, receiver Laquon Treadwell, safety Tony Conner and offensive tackles Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson will start out with the second team during camp. And at tight end, with the knee injury to early enrollee Christian Morgan in the spring, it means incoming freshman Evan Engram will also have to jump right into the rotation.
"We only had 54 scholarship kids last year and are thin at some spots," Freeze said. "Are these kids ready to play? I don't know, but they're going to have to play. That's the position we're in."