What we all feared would be the case has finally become official. Nickolas Brassell, the athletically gifted receiver, cornerback, and return man for our Rebels, will not be a part of this football program this fall per a statement on the Ole Miss sports mothership. We have all heard for a while that Brassell was more than a long shot to maintain his academic eligibility to remain a part of the program for his sophomore year and beyond, something which was confirmed by head coach Hugh Freeze this morning. Freeze said that he and his staff did "all they could to help," which evidently was not enough.
His elite athleticism and big play ability will be sorely missed on a team which seems to be lacking in both. Brassell, as a true freshman, started six games at wide receiver and one at cornerback. He had 24 catches for 336 yards and two touchdowns on offense, 14 tackles and five pass breakups on defense, and saw action on return teams, even returning an 84-yard punt for a touchdown against Georgia.
There's a lesson to be learned in all of this, kids, and that is that no matter how gifted you are at football, you still have to pass your classes to play. We definitely tip our hats towards head coach Hugh Freeze for opting to make the right decision over the easy decision. If the players aren't going to buy in and maintain the discipline required to pass freshman liberal arts courses at Ole Miss with the assistance of a platoon of tutors and a facility entirely dedicated to the education of student athletes, then you probably don't so much deserve to play SEC football. In spite of his academic shortcomings, Brassell was easily the most athletic player this team had on either side of the ball, which is exactly why he saw such significant playing time as a true freshman. As a senior at South Panola High School - the de facto Ole Miss pipeline program in Mississippi - he was rated as one of the nation's top wide receiver prospects by both Rivals and Scout. With such tremendous upside, it's easy to see why the coaches were so reluctant to let him go.
Best of luck to you Nick wherever you wind up, so long as wherever that may be isn't another SEC school.