If there's any place that knows how to throw a going-away party, it's New Orleans. In a city where even the funerals are carnivalesque celebrations, the likely NFL-bound duo of Laquon Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil made a spectacle of accomplishing what they set out to do when they committed to Ole Miss three years ago: make the Rebels nationally relevant again.
Of course, we don't technically know if it was indeed a going-away party. After combining for four touchdowns in Ole Miss' 48-20 Sugar Bowl beatdown of Oklahoma State, both juniors said they haven't made a decision on whether they'll declare for the 2016 draft. Tunsil, who shut down one of the country's best pass rushers and added a gleefully entertaining fat guy touchdown for good measure, said he expects to make a decision sometime next week. Treadwell, who set the school's single-season receptions record with the first of his three scoring grabs, said earlier this week that he plans to go home to Illinois and think things over.
Given the circumstances, however, it's almost impossible to believe that either will come back. It's not about a selfish dash for the cash, it's about making a sound decision to set themselves up financially for the rest of their lives. Both of these guys know how quickly football can be taken away -- Treadwell because of the gruesome leg injury that ended his 2014 season; Tunsil because of the NCAA investigation that cost him the first seven games this season.
Still, as Treadwell stood on stage during the trophy celebration, streamers and chants of "one more year" filtering down from above, you could tell that when he says he's torn over the decision, it's more than lip service.
In a three-year span that's seen Laquon catch 21 touchdowns, Friday night was the first time he's ever pulled off a hat trick. He was absolutely unstoppable, pulling in six grabs for 71 yards and blowing past All-Big 12 cornerback Kevin Peterson with ease.
And of course, Hugh Freeze had to give him one last shot at the trick play pass.
But the trick play of the night came from Tunsil, who took this lateral in for a touchdown on the final play of the first half.
Tunsil sat out the second half, which means that was probably his last ever play as a Rebel.
Friday night's game was the perfect summation of what these two guys have done during their time at Ole Miss: not only have they lived up to the impossibly lofty expectations, they've somehow managed to surpass them. Both Tunsil and Treadwell were rated as the top player at their respective position coming out of high school and both of them will be the top-rated player at their position heading into the draft. What they've done for this program in terms of garnering national respect and laying the groundwork for Freeze's rebuilding project can't be overstated.