Ole Miss had one of the more memorable wins from the first weekend, coming from behind to knock off Vanderbilt on the road in Thursday’s season opener.
Wide receiver Donte Moncrief is now in his third season with the Rebels. He was there before the arrival of Hugh Freeze, when the program was in dire straits, but he also has been a big part of the resurgence under the second-year coach, both on the field and in recruiting.
The much-anticipated 2013 recruiting class made its debut against the Commodores and played a major role in the victory. Moncrief, a preseason All-SEC selection, spent some time with ESPN.com to talk about the win, the play of the freshmen and the team’s expectations.
Q: How big was it for you guys to open the season with that win over Vanderbilt?
A: That was a big thing. That's momentum for the team. A lot of young players played a good game, and that's what we needed. We're just moving forward, and we're going to take every team like they're a championship team and play our best.
Q: What were the emotions like at the end of that game?
A: The emotions were high. We had a mindset that we weren't going to leave without a win. When we got down by 14, we just had to keep everybody together and make sure everybody kept their head high, so nobody got their head down. We just kept fighting, and we were in better shape, so we came out the win.
Q: I have to ask you about your counterpart, LaQuon Treadwell. How good was he, and did you see that coming before the game.
A: Yes sir. I had told him before -- he was my roommate in the hotel room -- and I just told him, 'You need to play like this is a high school game. These are high school players that came from high school, just like you did. Just come out there, play hard and give it all you got.' That's what he did. He had a great game.
Q: If you can sum up the freshman class as a whole, what kind of impact did they make?
A: All of the freshmen, they're not regular freshmen, those are some big-time guys that made big-time plays. That's what we needed. Coach Freeze did a good job of recruiting them, and those guys came in ready to play fresh off the jump. Quincy [Adeboyejo] is another LaQuon. He's just a faster version. He's smaller, but he can make big catches just like LaQuon. Robert [Nkemdiche] is a big, physical guy. He's very humble. He's going to make a lot of plays. It's good to have his first game under his belt.
Q: You had a solid freshman year at Ole Miss a couple years back. What was the biggest adjustment you had to make going from high school to college?
A: Back when I came here, a lot of people doubted me. I just took that to the head -- I fought harder, and I gave it everything I got. Every day I came out here, I was trying to get better watching the older guys. As I got better, they gave me a chance to play, and I took advantage of it. I told the (new guys) when they first got here that we're not trying to put you on a redshirt. I told them to learn the plays and get ready to play early. That's what they did.
Q: It's just one game, but how good can this Ole Miss team be this year?
A: I think we'll be really good. We're very young, but at the same, we're all together and we all have the same goals. Everybody is just trying to stay focused, stay healthy and get ready to do what we've got to do.