- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Barry Brunetti knew things would be different after he saw an email and from Ole Miss compliance director David Wells Monday morning.
“Once I saw that email, I knew it had something to do with the waiver,” the sophomore quarterback said.
What Brunetti didn’t know was whether he’d be excited or upset by the contents of that email.
Months earlier, the Memphis, Tenn., native transferred from West Virginia in order to be closer to his mother, who was dealing with complications from a 2002 car accident. He asked the NCAA to waive the routine year-in-residence requirement and allow him to play this fall.
In the email, Wells told Brunetti to call him. Shortly into the conversation, Brunetti got the news that the NCAA had in fact cleared him to play for the Rebels this fall.
“I was thankful when I heard that,” Brunetti said during a teleconference Monday afternoon.
Brunetti said he expected a decision to be made in mid-May and was “shocked” that the NCAA worked so fast.
The news not only comes as a blessing to Brunetti – and his mother – but it’s also comes as a relief. Brunetti tried to put the thought of not playing next season out of his mind during spring practice, but it was thrown in his face every time he watched other quarterbacks get more even reps than him.
Being the one with the unknown future, Brunetti wasn’t upset by not having even reps, but is thrilled that he’ll be on an even playing field this fall.
With senior Nathan Stanley leaving the program during the last week of spring practice, Ole Miss enters the offseason with three scholarship quarterbacks in Brunetti, junior Randall Mackey, who left spring with the edge in the quarterback race, and junior college transfer Zack Stoudt.
Now that Brunetti knows he’ll be playing this fall, his offseason intensity is expected to elevate.
“It gives me much more urgency and gives me better odds with (offensive coordinator) coach (David) Lee and coach (Houston) Nutt,” Brunetti said. “Now, they can know there are three legit scholarship quarterbacks, instead of two.”
Brunetti’s decision to transfer somewhere closer to home centered on his mother’s health and it appears as though she’s getting better. After her accident, she decided not to undergo surgery on her spine because she was afraid it might paralyze her, Brunetti said.
Her health declined when he got to West Virginia and Brunetti decided he needed to come home.
Brunetti said his mother is doing better and has started seeing a doctor weekly. While doctors said her health could continue to suffer without surgery, Brunetti’s mother hasn’t committed to getting it, but hasn’t completely ruled it out.
Outside of his family situation, Brunetti said his focus will be on getting ready for fall camp. After suffering through a sluggish start to the spring, Brunetti really came on in the last few weeks of practice and is more comfortable with Ole Miss’ offense.
Brunetti also expects his work ethic to improve even more now that he doesn't have to worry over whether he’ll have a chance to compete on the field this fall.
“It was three weeks of learning for me and trying to move fast at the same time,” he said. “I’ve got the whole summer to learn more and going into fall there should be no excuses. It’ll be full speed and my best effort.”
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